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  A Possible Last Hurrah for a Liberal Lion of Ohio
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Last EditedCraverguy  Mar 06, 2012 12:23am
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AuthorSabrina Tavernise
MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateTuesday, March 6, 2012 06:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionTOLEDO, Ohio — Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a liberal icon who tried twice to win the Democratic nomination for president, was fighting for his political life in a mostly empty meeting hall in central Toledo.

Mr. Kucinich, who started in politics more than 40 years ago in Cleveland, has fallen victim to redistricting, a redrawing of the electoral map that sliced two Congressional seats out of Ohio — one of them his.

Toledo is new territory for Mr. Kucinich, and he was trying to talk to Hispanic voters here, a potentially important constituency. About 20 came to hear him speak on Friday, along with a University of Toledo student wearing a Ron Paul pin, though they were almost outnumbered by journalists, TV crews and campaign workers.

Mr. Kucinich, 65, is battling Marcy Kaptur of Toledo, a fellow incumbent and fellow progressive, in a Democratic primary on Tuesday. Less than half of the new district, a barbell-shaped piece of land that stretches about 100 miles along Lake Erie, is made up of Mr. Kucinich’s old turf, and he has spent recent weeks traversing it in an all-out effort to get votes.

On Saturday, Russell Simmons, the music mogul (and a fellow vegan), came to Ohio to stump for him, followed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Sunday. Willie Nelson, a friend, held a benefit concert.

Mr. Kucinich frames the election in the starkest of terms, as a test of Democratic — as in Democratic Party — values. He points to his voting record — against the American invasion of Iraq and the Patriot Act, and for the pro-immigrant Dream Act. He supports same-sex marriage and has shifted over time on abortion, now backing abortion rights.

This little Congressional seat, between Cleveland and Toledo, suddenly ends up being a place where these great questions are being tested,” he said in an interview on Friday. “The Democratic Party will be defined by this race.”
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