CLEVELAND — Dennis Kucinich’s profession in elected life ended the way in which it started 54 years earlier – with a loss.
Like so many different elements of his time within the public enviornment, Kucinich’s third-place finish in the seven-candidate Cleveland mayoral primary election defied typical knowledge. Each recognized survey on this sparsely polled contest confirmed Kucinich atop the sector.
And of the often dependable insiders I spoke with throughout this marketing campaign, just one, longtime Cleveland-area pollster Bob Dykes, spent the previous two weeks predicting Kucinich was in bother and would possibly end third within the main, failing to qualify for the Nov. 2 runoff election.
Now, at age 75, Kucinich has misplaced three straight elections – the 2012 Democratic primary for Congress to Rep. Marcy Kaptur; the 2018 Democratic primary for governor; and his bid to return the mayor’s workplace he gained in 1977. It could be sheer fantasy to think about him making a severe bid for top workplace sooner or later.
There was nothing ambiguous in regards to the outcomes of Tuesday’s mayoral main. Kucinich’s once-impenetrable base amongst working class whites has both died off or left city. And the overwhelming favourite to be town’s subsequent and second youngest mayor is 34-year-old Justin Bibb (Kucinich was 31).
It’s not that Cleveland Metropolis Council President Kevin Kelley, the second-place finisher within the main, can’t win the runoff. However that will require Bibb and his far superior marketing campaign group squandering an unlimited political benefit. And if Kelley supporters depend on impartial expenditures to smear Bibb, there’s an opportunity it is going to backfire spectacularly, wrecking reputations within the course of.
In the meantime, Kucinich’s defeat got here greater than a half-century after a slender loss in a 1967 race for Metropolis Council within the Tremont space. Within the a long time that adopted, Kucinich proved himself essentially the most resilient Cleveland political determine of his time, maybe essentially the most resilient within the metropolis’s historical past.
In 1979, when he misplaced the mayor’s workplace to George Voinovich, Kucinich was a spent drive. There was little or no debate about any risk of a future in politics. At age 33, Dennis Kucinich was achieved.
Till he wasn’t.
After a short return to Metropolis Council, Kucinich just about disappeared for a decade. He embraced a spiritualism that softened his combative nature. And in 1994, he gained election to the Ohio Senate. Two years later, he was elected to Congress, a seat he gained eight instances till gerrymandering made his re-election in 2012 virtually unattainable.
Kucinich twice ran for president with no discernible path to victory. He’s typically one of many smartest guys within the room, however over time, lots of his views took on a weird high quality. And his incapability to understand that his relationship with voters had waned over time turned a severe shortcoming.
Not as soon as was Kucinich’s status tainted by a whiff of scandal. Few longtime officeholders could make that declare. However his 2021 marketing campaign for mayor was at all times based mostly on a false premise – that turning again time 44 years was a good suggestion.
However extra essential than the politics is that this: Kucinich has a very good coronary heart. There’s a aspect to him most have by no means seen.
About six years in the past, a mutual pal and distinguished Democratic operative was recognized with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). The lady was useful to a fantastic many Democrats in excessive workplace through the years, however few bothered to go to as her physique wasted away.
Kucinich spent hours at her bedside, comforting her with tales, holding her hand in prayer. She died in 2017.
Protests from Kucinich however, historical past is not going to be form to his two years as mayor. And different politicians of his period had been extra profitable, notably George Voinovich, Lou Stokes and maybe Mike White. By way of political energy, Stokes, White, George Forbes and Stephanie Tubbs Jones wielded way more.
Kucinich emerged as a significant participant in Cleveland politics in 1971, only a few years faraway from a childhood of abject poverty. Each the politics and the poverty at the moment are behind him.
Final weekend, I requested him how he’d react to an sudden loss within the mayoral main.
“I’ll be simply superb. I’ve a fantastic life.”
Brent Larkin was The Plain Supplier’s editorial director from 1991 till his retirement in 2009.
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