Dennis Kucinich: End of a progessive icon's era?

Kucinich became a city councilman in Cleveland at the age of 23, mayor at 31, and ex-mayor at the age of 33. In the second phase of his career, he was elected to represent Cleveland in Congress in 1996, and when he ran for president in 2003-2004 he became a national figure, his anti-war stance making him an unlikely cult hero among progressives.

He revived his presidential ambitions in 2007-2008, but, as in the previous race, made little dent in the polls or in the primaries.

Although extremely serious, Kucinich also knew how to have fun. While running for president in 2007, Kucinich and his much younger wife Elizabeth paid a visit to Tampa and made a journey to Skipper's Smokehouse, where WMNF was doing a Led Zeppelin tribute show.

In addition to being a liberal icon on MSNBC, Kucinich was an occasional guest on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show. Kucinich distinguished himself from many of his fellow Democrats in 2007 by saying that he would gladly appear on the conservative cable network, but a boycott led by the Congressional Black Caucus prevented a planned debate from being broadcast.

In his comments to the media last night, Kucinich blasted Kaptur for running a negative campaign. "That's not who I am," the Cleveland Plain-Dealer reported. "Our politics have to be lifted up. They don't belong in the gutter."

Kucinich returned to Washington D.C. today, where he will remain in office until the end of the year — unless he opts to run for that seat in Washington, as there are questions about whether he could remain in office representing one seat while running for another.

  • The Tampa Tribune's William March, this reporter, and Dennis Kucinich at Mise en Place in 2007

Cleveland area Congressman and former Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich lost badly in his primary election Tuesday night to fellow liberal Marcy Kaptur.

Because of redistricting, Kucinich ran in a district that was stretched more than 100 miles from his base in Cleveland west to Toledo, a district that encompassed 47 percent of Kaptur's current district. The race matched up two Democratic progressives, and Kaptur was always considered the favorite.

This may not be the end of the road for the 65-year-old, who has spoken of possibly moving to Washington State to run in a Democratic-leaning district. If he opts to do that, he'll need to act quickly, as he would have to establish residency there by mid-April.

After learning months ago that his district was going to be radically reconfigured, Kucinich traveled to Washington. Kaptur seized upon his visit as an example of the former boy mayor showing more love for national and international issues than for his local district.

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