SHORELINE — Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich flipped vegan pancakes, talked foreign policy and let Democrats know Sunday which race he won’t be entering next year: the presidency.
About that other contest he’s rumored to be considering – where he vies for Congress from a ZIP code in this state – he hasn’t decided.
“I’m not here as a candidate, I want to make that clear,” he told 100 people at a fundraiser for Democrats in the 32nd Legislative District that spans south Snohomish and north King counties.
Kucinich, 64, is contemplating his political future because Ohio is losing two House seats in redistricting following the 2010 census. He expects that the state’s Republican-controlled Legislature will abolish his district and his seat when boundaries are redrawn.
Supporters in Washington, Maine and other states are courting him in hopes of becoming his new political base. He said he’s humbled by the outreach.
“I’m hopeful to continue serving in the United States Congress. I just haven’t made any decisions about where that might be,” he said.
Those attending pressed Kucinich for a time frame, which drew a smile from the man who ran for president in 2004 and 2008.
“Obviously I have to make a decision before the 2012 election and before that, before the filing deadline, and before that I have to make a decision exactly where I’d run, and I haven’t made any of those decisions yet,” he said, inciting a few snickers.
“Am I thinking about it? Next question,” he said as the crowd laughed.
Kucinich is attracted to Washington for political and personal reasons.
This state is gaining a new seat in Congress with its borders to be determined this fall when redistricting is done. That new district could be a possibility for him.
So too could the 1st Congressional District, which includes Shoreline. U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wa., holds the job now, but if Gov. Chris Gregoire does not seek a third term, he’s likely to run for the job and vacate his federal post.
On the personal side, Kucinich frequents the state for private time. He said he likes hiking at Mount Rainier and areas in the Puyallup River Valley, among other places.
The rumored possibility of his candidacy is stirring a lot of chatter among the rank-and-file and leadership of the Democratic Party.
Kucinich said in an interview he doesn’t want to fuel the speculation, but his weekend schedule in Washington certainly did. It looked like the itinerary of a candidate with stops at political fundraisers, meetings with college students and a speech at the Green Festival in Seattle.
At the breakfast, Bill Van Horn, 79, of Lake Forest Park, said he wanted Kucinich to run.
“This is an opportunity to have a very progressive Democrat lead us,” Van Horn said. “A person who has a very important message should be able to represent our district.”
Scott Ballinger of Woodway said the fuss surrounding Kucinich is good because it helps “trumpet the fact that Washington Democrats are liberal Democrats”
But he wouldn’t welcome him as a candidate.
“I think there’s kind of a carpetbagger aspect to him coming,” he said. “And I’m not sure Kucinich is good for the 1st Congressional District.”
State Democratic Party chairman Dwight Pelz has expressed similar concerns in publicly opposing a Kucinich bid. He’s also said the Ohioan’s politics put him too far left to win in a suburban district, which is what the 1st and 10th will almost certainly be after redistricting.
Edmonds Councilwoman Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said it’s not for the party to decide the viability of a Kucinich candidacy.
“I think it’s up to the voters to make that decision,” she said.
Dorothy King of Edmonds, who turned 89 on Sunday, wants the progressive congressman to keep serving from his longtime home state.
“I think he has good ideas and makes good speeches,” she said. “I don’t think he should do it. If he’s going to move, he should move to some other place in Ohio.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; firstname.lastname@example.org