Kucinich woos Washington state ahead of 2012

Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, speaks during a Bioeconomy Conference Forum on the campus of Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, Monday, Nov. 5, 2007.
Dennis Kucinich

Updated Aug. 6

Democratic Rep. Dennis Kucinich, a longtime Ohio politician once known as Cleveland's "boy mayor," may be searching for a new congressional district to call home in Washington State.

The congressman caused a stir Thursday when he passionately addressed hundreds at the Washington State Labor Council's annual convention.

"He gave a rousing speech," Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, told Hotsheet. Johnson was one of the over 400 people present in the SeaTac convention hall Thursday for Kucinich's remarks. "It was a pretty overwhelming response."

Kucinich, whose Ohio district is likely to disappear come 2012, spoke at the convention as part of his recent flirtation with a potential campaign in Washington for the upcoming election. He has reportedly been eyeing a seat in the western state, though he refuses to confirm any such ambition.

Washington will gain a congressional seat next November, thanks to the result of the 2010 Census -- making it political territory decidedly more fertile than Kucinich's own. This, combined with its liberal voting record, makes it an appealing target for the Ohio congressman, who is refusing to stand down.

"My district appears to be on the block, so I am looking at options, and I am not limiting those options to Ohio," Kucinich told The New York Times in May.

Since then, his frequent appearances in the historically blue state have been met with a relatively enthusiastic response.

He has argued passionately against topics ranging from federal spending cuts to "the very notion of war," and spoken fondly of what he calls the "progressive spirit" that has drawn him to Washington.

But not everyone supports his decision to run.

"Washingtonians are not going to be receptive to a sitting congressman from Ohio filing for office in our state," said Dwight Pelz, chairman of the Washington Democratic Party, to The New York Times.

Pelz also said that voters would likely not match the Ohio congressman's liberal political agenda, and would instead prefer a more moderate approach.

An independent poll of Washington voters performed by publicpolicypolling.com in May found that only 12 percent think Kucinich should run for office there, while 39 percent think he should not -- though the majority, 53 percent, were not "familiar" with the congressman.

But until Kucinich, who continues to deny any official campaign plans, officially decides where he would run, nothing is for certain. The two districts currently being eyed by Kucinich are the 1st and the new 10th -- the lines for which have yet to be drawn, and according to Johnson, on which everything relies.

In the meantime, Johnson maintains his support for the travelling politician. "His message is resonating well out here in the labor community," he said. "And if he did decide to run, we would welcome him."

Correction: An earlier version of this post contained an incorrect first name for Washington State Labor Council President Jeff Johnson.