Ohio: Kucinich Hopes Penn Is Mightier Than the Sword

Posted February 5, 2008 at 5:01pm

Hoping to avoid becoming a “Dead Man Walking,” Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D) has persuaded actor/director Sean Penn to headline a fundraiser in Cleveland on Feb. 17.

According to the campaign Web site, tickets for the “We Love Dennis” fundraiser cost $1,000 for a special reception with Penn, and either $25 or $100 for the general reception, which includes a “personal photo” with the actor.

Kucinich is trying to raise money for his Congressional re-election campaign after dropping out of the presidential race in mid-January. He is facing his first competitive primary challenge in years on March 4 against four Democratic candidates: Cleveland City Councilman Joe Cimperman, North Olmstead Mayor Tom O’Grady, anti-war activist Rosemary Palmer and 2006 candidate Barbara Ferris.

Cimperman is considered the leading challenger, having raised more than $226,000 in the last couple of weeks of 2007 and ending the year with $204,800 in cash on hand. According to federal election records, Kucinich raised $46,000 for his re-election campaign this cycle and had $13,400 in cash on hand at the end of last year.

Kucinich’s campaign sent an e-mail to supporters earlier this week asking for donations.

“One month from now is the Ohio primary and I’m running for re-election to the House of Representatives,” Kucinich wrote. “I’m also being outspent 5 to 1. Corporate interests are converging on Cleveland in an effort to try to knock me out of Congress.”

Penn, famous for his roles in movies including “Dead Man Walking” and “Mystic River,” is no stranger to politics. According to online federal election records, Penn has donated to Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and to both Kucinich’s presidential and Congressional re-election campaigns.

Because of the district’s Democratic makeup, the West Cleveland seat will likely stay in the Democratic column. The leading Republican candidate is former state Rep. Jim Trakas.
— Shira Toeplitz