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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

August 4, 2011 at 2:28 PM

Kucinich gets hero's welcome at union confab

Posted by Jim Brunner

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich says he still hasn't made up his mind on whether he'll run for a congressional seat here in 2012.

But he's back in the state today, and got a terrific platform to endear himself to a key Democratic constituency.

Kucinich spoke this morning at the Washington State Labor Council's annual convention in SeaTac, where was greeted outside the convention hall by dozens of union members in yellow shirts that read "Dennis!"

Addressing hundreds of union delegates inside a hotel ballroom, Kucinich gave a fiery speech that had the crowd repeatedly rising to its feet and joining him in chants of "We are union!"

Kucinich trashed what has been going on in Washington D.C., from the debt ceiling deal (which he opposed) to calls for big cuts in federal spending on health care and education.

He mocked the notion that the federal budget had to be balanced by deep spending cuts, calling instead for more federal investment in universal health care and education.

Kucinich said the first question he gets asked in Washington D.C. about such ideas is "how are you going to pay for it."

"They never ask that question when it comes to war. They never ask that question when it comes to bailing out Wall Street. They never ask that question when it came to the Bush tax cuts - a trillion dollars to the top, most of it to the top 1 percent. They never ask that question. They only ask it when it comes to meeting the social economic needs of our community."

While Kucinich made no mention of his own political plans, he did highlight some of his local connections. He proudly noted his marching with "the Teamsters and the turtles" during the 1999 WTO ministerial conference in Seattle.

And he boasted of his defense of the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against Boeing for locating a production line in South Carolina to punish Washington unions for strikes.

"When they attacked the Boeing workers by moving the plant to South Carolina, they attacked all workers everywhere," Kucinich said, drawing an extended ovation from the machinists contingent at the convention.

Outside the ballroom, Kucinich was thronged by admirers who wanted to shake his hand and have photos snapped with him.

"I've followed Dennis for years. He's a voice of moral authority in the politics we have at this time," said Peter Goodman, an organizer for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Allied Workers, who was wearing one of the Kucinich tee shirts.

Although some Democratic party leaders, including state chairman Dwight Pelz, have warned Kucinich against running for office here, Goodman, and other union workers at the SeaTac convention said said they'd be willing to give Kucinich a serious look.

For someone even considering a run for office as a Democrat, this was a prime-time opportunity. In addition to this morning's speech, Kucinich will be speaking again at a lunch of union leaders Friday.

Meanwhile, several declared candidates for the 1st Congressional District, which Kucinich is thought to be eying, have been invited to give short speeches bunched together on the final day of the convention on Saturday.

Does any of this mean that Kucinich is closer to running for a congressional seat in Washington state? He said he's made no decision and declined to even say he was leaning one way or the other.

But Kucinich said we'll continue to see him.

"I like coming here," he said in an interview. "It's friendly and I feel at home. I keep getting invitations. Now the invitations are starting to come in several a week."

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It is always breathtaking watching labor destroy their own livelihoods.That Cleveland economy is really humming ,right? NOT! This guy may be more...  Posted on August 5, 2011 at 11:13 AM by motnam. Jump to comment
Kucinch is welcomed in Washington state. I too would love a chance to vote for him.  Posted on August 4, 2011 at 8:59 PM by frank ly. Jump to comment
If you check out the past comments on the Plain Dealer (the Cleveland city newspaper), you'll find that many are in favor of Kucinich moving...  Posted on August 4, 2011 at 6:45 PM by ghph. Jump to comment