has embraced his rocky political career with a certain perseverance
-- "If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try, try, try
again," Kucinich has said.
He has done
just that. The 57-year-old Ohio congressman has recovered from
several near-death political
setbacks, but has continued to pursue his goals.
Born in Cleveland
in 1946, Kucinich is the oldest of Frank and Virginia Kucinich's
seven children, and endured a difficult childhood.
"I come from the streets of Cleveland, from a family that
lived in 21 different places by the time I was 17, including a
couple of cars. And I'm telling you, it'll be from the streets
of Cleveland to Pennsylvania Avenue for a worker's White House
and a people's president," Kucinich said in a speech to the
Urban League National Convention in Pittsburgh on July 28, 2003.
home when he was 17 years old, renting a $50-a-month walk-up apartment,
enrolling at Cleveland State University and working at the copy
desk at The Plain Dealer. He attended Cleveland State from 1967-70,
but earned his bachelor's degree in speech communications from
Case Western Reserve University in 1973. The following year he
earned a master's degree in speech communications from Case Western.
At the age
of 31, Kucinich became the youngest mayor of a major American
city. But two years into his tenure, Cleveland became the first
city to go into default since the Great Depression, prompting
some members of the media to dub him "Dennis the Menace."
economy received plenty of unwelcome attention, and Kucinich was
at the center of it. It was opening day at Cleveland Municipal
Stadium in April 1978 when Kucinich stood on the mound to toss
out the first pitch, wearing a bulletproof vest. Fans shouted
"Kill the bum" from the stands, and boos from the crowd
of 75,000 were heard.
a recall by only 236 votes, but he lost his reelection to Republican
George Voinovich the following year in 1979.
rise back into politics in the 1990s came after a string of disappointments.
Following his defeat in the mayoral election, his second marriage
ended, he almost lost his house and he couldn't find work in Cleveland.
Eventually, he moved to California where he wrote a still unpublished
autobiography. Later, he returned to Cleveland and found his way
back into politics, winning
a seat in 1994 in the Ohio Senate.
success in the '90s, however, was based on one of the very things
that caused his attempted recall. When Kucinich was mayor, local
banks threatened to call in a $15 million loan if he didn't sell
the city's municipal electrical system. He refused. Though at
the time, it led the city into default -- and subsequently the
recall that he barely survived and later a landslide defeat --
the move proved paramount to his later success.
In the 1990s
Cleveland officials credited Kucinich with Cleveland's low electricity
rates. His campaign symbol was a light bulb with the slogan "Because
he was right." He won a seat in the state Senate in 1994,
and two years later, in the U.S. House with the slogan, "Light
Though Kucinich's presidential campaign hasn't received as much
media attention as other candidates, he has enjoyed the support
of long-time friend Ralph Nader, the leader of the group Public
is for real," said Nader. "He's very consistent in his
public philosophy that the government exists to serve the people
first, not the corporations. He's been very steadfast under that
pursuit under enormous pressure."
a fourth term congressman and chairman of the Congressional Progressive
Caucus, has promoted a national health care system, preservation
of social security, increased unemployment insurance benefits
and cost-based rates for electricity, natural gas and home heating
to his political posts as Cleveland City Council member, mayor,
state senator and U.S. congressman, Kucinich has held a number
of nonpolitical jobs. He has worked as a court clerk, radio talk
show host, lecturer, media consultant, reporter, copyreader and
twice divorced, and has a 21-year-old daughter.
-- By Sheryl Silverman, Online NewsHour