CLEVELAND — In his political lifespan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich traveled the globe to meet world leaders, crisscrossed the country to run for president and even flirted with running for re-election in Washington state.
But a much less glamorous locale will determine the Ohio Democrat’s fate next month: Toledo.
As the snow whips past his hybrid SUV on the two-hour drive from his home in Cleveland to Toledo on Saturday morning, it’s hard to imagine why anyone wants this job. But two Members — Kucinich and fellow Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur — want to represent the redrawn 9th district, which stretches 120 miles along Lake Erie’s shoreline.
The new district’s numbers aren’t in Kucinich’s favor, but that’s never stopped the two-time failed presidential candidate from running before. Yet even the west Cleveland Congressman admits he’s not sure who will win the March 6 primary.
“This is a contest, and I think one must be optimistic but at the same time cautious about the outcome,” Kucinich said in an interview. “I don’t know how this is going to turn out.”
Republicans redrew Ohio’s Congressional map last year after the Buckeye State lost two seats because of lagging population growth. The makeup of the new district favors Kaptur because she currently represents more of it — a fact that worries some of Kucinich’s famous friends.
“I’ve supported him ever since he was mayor of Cleveland,” Larry Flynt, a longtime Kucinich backer and former Ohio resident, told Roll Call. “I hope he does [win], but you have to call them as you see them, and it doesn’t look too good for him.”
So Kucinich drives to Toledo to try to save his political career on this blizzardy Saturday morning. He rises early to clean off several inches of snow from his car — the kind of weather that would paralyze Washington, D.C., but that Cleveland barely notices.