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Originally published May 3, 2011 at 8:43 PM | Page modified May 15, 2011 at 11:21 AM

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Kucinich weighs run for Congress in Washington state

With his Ohio seat in jeopardy due to redistricting, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich is fanning rumors of a possible 2012 run in Washington state.

Seattle Times political reporter

quotes "ROFL and what about the Bush family that moved from Massachusetts to Texas, to... Read more
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With his Ohio seat in jeopardy due to redistricting, Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich is fanning rumors of a possible 2012 run in Washington state.

Kucinich, a two-time presidential candidate, has made a series of public appearances here recently, roaming 2,000 miles from the West Cleveland district he's represented since 1997.

On Sunday, Kucinich led a May Day march in Seattle for immigrants' rights. Over the weekend, he spoke to audiences in Tacoma and Bainbridge Island. And in February, he addressed a big union rally in Olympia.

As unlikely as it seems, speculation among Democrats has Kucinich eyeing a couple of possible 2012 openings here. He could try for the state's yet-to-be drawn new 10th Congressional District or seek Democratic U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee's 1st District seat if Inslee, as expected, runs for governor.

Asked about the rumors, Kucinich's office released a statement confirming he is exploring a move.

After people learned that Kucinich's district might be eliminated or redrawn by the Ohio Legislature's Republican majority, Kucinich "received requests from people in 20 states, including Washington, encouraging him to move and run in their area," said the statement from press secretary Nathan White."Congressman Kucinich appreciates the interest expressed in his public service. As he has repeatedly said, he fully intends to remain in Congress; he just doesn't know in what district he will run," the statement said.

Kucinich, a former Cleveland mayor, has a base of support in Washington, which gave him some of his strongest backing in his underdog 2004 and 2008 presidential runs. He also has a stranger connection, having famously claimed to have spotted a giant triangular UFO in 1982 while staying at actress Shirley MacLaine's house near Graham, Pierce County.

Kucinich would be legally qualified to run for Congress in Washington as long as he moved here and registered to vote before the filing period in spring 2012, according to Secretary of State Sam Reed's office.

But that doesn't mean he'd have a good shot at winning. Kucinich would have to contend with the carpetbagger label and to explain how he'd represent local interests.

"Is this about serving a district in Congress or is this about Dennis Kucinich?" said state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz.

Even some admirers are not necessarily keen on a Kucinich campaign.

Linda Gabriel, vice chairwoman of the 23rd Legislative District Democrats, came out to hear Kucinich speak Saturday on Bainbridge Island. "I've always admired his being very outspoken, but I can't say he'd be a good fit," said Gabriel, who worries that a Kucinich candidacy could backfire by getting a Republican elected.

Still, Todd Iverson, a longshoreman who helped organize the Kucinich appearance in Tacoma, said the Ohio congressman "speaks for working families as well as anybody in Congress."

"He has as good a base as anybody else out here when you are looking 18 months out from an election," Iverson said.

Jim Brunner: 206-515-5628 or jbrunner@seattletimes.com

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