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Dennis Kucinich Enters Ohio Governor's Race With Populist Message

Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks during a news conference announcing his run for Ohio governor, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018.
Tony Dejak
Former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich speaks during a news conference announcing his run for Ohio governor, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, in Middleburg Heights, Ohio.

Democrat Dennis Kucinich launched his campaign for Ohio governor on Wednesday.

He ran twice unsuccessfully for president but now he’s seeking the state’s chief executive office with a slogan of “Power to We the People.”

“State government’s gotten away from the people,” he said, speaking to reporters. “It’s all about special interests and wealthy special interests, cutting education and health care – things that people really need. We’re going to change that. And it’s about power to We the People.”

Speaking in a southwest Cleveland suburb, Kucinich’s supporters in Middleburg Heights enthusiastically welcomed the return of the populist who once represented them in Congress. It was his first stop in a day of travel across the state to announce his candidacy.

Kucinich ran down a long list of goals – from investing in public transit to ending gerrymandering, supporting medical marijuana to protecting workers rights.

“Under my leadership, no outside interest would dare bring forth the contemptuously named ‘right to work’ laws which aim at destroying workers’ organizations,” he said.

Kucinich said he’ll make two-year college tuition-free for young people, create a clean energy tech incubator, develop a plan for ecologically-friendly farming practices and raise the minimum wage.

“Ohio recently increased its minimum wage to $8.30,” he said. “Now that’s a step in the right direction, but it’s not enough. My goal will be to see the minimum wage in Ohio increase by 50 percent to $12.50 by the end of my first term.”

As part of his economic development goals, Kucinich said he would create a nonprofit public utility to provide broadband service, “which will dramatically reduce the cost of broadband for all Ohio residents and businesses, provide a powerful high speed platform for business growth while establishing net neutrality.”

For the Democratic nomination in May, Kucinich faces four other candidates including former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray, Ohio Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill, former state Representative Connie Pillich and state Senator Joe Schiavoni.

Compared to those candidates, Kucinich said, he’s in a unique position to bring Democrats back to the party.

“To bring back those to our party who left when our party abandoned them,” he said. “We’re gonna give them a reason to come back and to vote Democrat and I’ll lead the way to do that.”

He intends to announce his running mate for Lieutenant Governor within 48 hours of his campaign announcement.

Kucinich has a long history in politics, serving as Cleveland mayor in the 1970s, as a state senator in the 1990s, and then U.S. Congressman for eight terms. He’s had his political victories and defeats, but can he pick himself up of the canvas again?

“Oh, come on. I’m not on a canvas, I’m on a roll!” he replied.