Is Dennis Kucinich Getting McKinney’d

Former Presidential Candidate Who Advocated Peace and Impeachment Facing Well-Financed Challenge at Home

On the Hill some call it being McKinney’d — the treatment Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney received when she was in Congress. Twice, rather than protecting the incumbent, the Democrats put up well funded challengers against her. Now, it looks like Dennis Kucinich may be facing the same treatment in Cleveland.

There is a report circulating the web that before the Nevada primary Kucinich was visited by representatives of Nancy Pelosi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the right wing Israeli lobby. They told him that if he would drop his campaigns to impeach Cheney and Bush, they would guarantee his re-election to the House of Representatives. Kucinich threw them out of his office.

Kucinich has aggressively challenged the Democratic Party leadership in Congress and on the presidential campaign trail on the issues of war, civil liberties, impeachment and big business control of government. He’s even refused to pledge to endorse the party’s presidential nominee.

The Democratic leadership has insisted that impeachment was off the table since taking control of the House in 2006. Congressman Conyers, Chair of the Judiciary Committee, has even refused to investigate whether President Bush and Vice President Cheney have violated the law. But Kucinich pushed the issue. He introduced articles of impeachment against Cheney, then against Bush and he brought the issue up on the House floor. He pushed and pushed to try to make sure the president and vice president were not above the law.

On the campaign trail he didn’t let Senator Clinton or Obama get away with campaign peace rhetoric in the Democratic primary while they voted war funding with no strings attached in the senate. He pointed out that their rhetoric was not consistent with their actions. He pushed the issue of all troops being removed; while Obama and Clinton parse their words carefully making it clear they will withdraw only some of the troops and neither promising a complete troop withdrawal even by 2012.

And he pierced the veil of campaign rhetoric of Democrats who call for “universal health care” but put forward plans that will enrich their donors in the private health insurance industry.

On issue after issue Kucinich pushed against the Democratic Party leadership — now, it seems he is paying a price.

In Cleveland, Kucinich is being challenged by several candidates. The one that is getting the most attention and funding is City Councilman Joe Cimperman. He’s served on the council for ten years and has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from real estate interests to challenge Kucinich. He’s been saying that Kucinich focuses too much on campaigning for president and not on the district. The Mayor of Cleveland and the Cleveland Plain Dealer has endorsed Cimperman.

Kucinich, who has been focused on the presidential campaign, has very little money in the bank (reportedly only about $30,000). He’s been putting out fundraising appeals and has a fundraiser planned with Sean Penn.

Back home the issue of right wing Israeli lobby funding is becoming an issue. Cimperman put out a press release that urges Kucinich to refute a report in the People’s Weekly World Newspaper that said the “Kucinich campaign charged” that Cimperman’s effort to unseat Kucinich was financed in large part from “a right-wing pro-Israel group.”

Cimperman has been somewhat theatrical in his campaign. He’s been putting up signs “Where’s Dennis?” and describing him as a “Missing Congressman.” Cimperman took the poster to Kucinch’s office and delivered a copy on videotape. Kucinich responded by asking Homeland Security to investigate the filming of government property. Cimperman responded with another video calling Kucinch a hypocrite for violating his privacy while railing against government intrusion into people’s lives.

No doubt if Kucinch had kow-towed to Nancy Pelosi, been less aggressive in his comments in the presidential debates and agreed to endorse the Democratic presidential nominee, the Democratic Party would be discouraging opponents and coming to the aid of an incumbent who has been in the House since 1996.

But elected officials like McKinney and Kucinch who challenge the Democratic Party line — who think for themselves and feel a responsibility to fight for their constituents and challenge corporate power — are a hindrance to the party leadership. They get in the way and let the public know what is really going on. So, they must be either tamed or made an example of. If Kucinich gets McKinney’d you can be sure the message will be received. Those, like Congressman Conyers, who’ve been around for awhile (Conyers has been in the House since 1965) know better than to step too far out of line. So, Conyers has remained silent on Bush’s law breaking — protecting his committee chairmanship by being afraid to use it. Conyers has been tamed but Kucinich hasn’t. So, Kucinich needs to be taught a lesson that other members will learn from. The growing revolt of the “Out of Iraq Caucus” needs to be kept impotent. Knocking out Kucinich will prevent others from too loudly disobeying leadership.

Kucinich has faced tough battles in Cleveland before. When he was mayor he stood up to corporate interests that wanted to take over Cleveland’s public utility and survived a recall election. And, Cimperman is not the only challenger, there are several, so the anti-Kucinich vote may be sufficiently divided for the congressman to retain his seat.

If he doesn’t Kucinich may find new political opportunities that give him a bigger platform. Perhaps he will leave the Democratic Party with whom he has had so much disagreement and join Cynthia McKinney in the Green Party — a party whose platform is consistent with his. If so a McKinney-Kucinich ticket could be an interesting development in the 2008 election year. The Democrats may regret their punishment of both McKinney and Kucinich.

Kevin Zeese co-directs Popular Resistance and is on the coordinating council for the Maryland Green Party. Read other articles by Kevin, or visit Kevin's website.

13 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 9th, 2008 at 8:34am #

    Seems that Cynthia McKinney, Dennis Kucinich, Cindy Sheehan, and others it goes without saying, like Barbara Lee, have been joined by an old-timer from the Nixon Impeachment Judiciary Committee – Elizabeth Holtzman. Author of “The Impeachment of George Bush: A Handbook,” Ms. Holtzman has a history of being a good liberal and feminist that is…well…highly enviable to say the least.

    She doesn’t have any reason to know it, but our birthdays are about two months apart.

  2. Erroll said on February 9th, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    Ms. McKinney and Kucinich and Nader [if he runs] are probably the only true anti-war candidates that this country has. When will the mainstream candidates realize that it is because of pictures like this that the United States will never “win” in Iraq and why the United States has absolutely no justifiable reason to allow its troops or its bases to remain in Iraq.

  3. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 9th, 2008 at 3:50pm #

    Have you checked out Cindy Sheehan’s website lately, Erroll? Besides, she’s not the incumbent, and her opponent is the Speaker of the House. At this time, I’d rate her chances less than half as good as Dennis’s.

    In any case, we all have our favorite Dennis K. quotation, don’t we? Mine is, approximately: “We already know the state of the nation: it’s a lie.”

    Give to the man, gentle readers. He’s very, very important.

  4. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 9th, 2008 at 4:10pm #

    err… state of the UNION, etc

    It’s getting to be past my bedtime.

  5. Hue Longer said on February 9th, 2008 at 5:06pm #

    San Fran hates Nancy even more than most of the USA….Cindy’s got a great shot if it ain’t fixed…you think the money thrown against Kucinich will be large, wait til you see the DNC lobby for Nancy

  6. greybeard said on February 9th, 2008 at 8:35pm #

    Rarely do I wish I lived in San Francisco, but this is one of them. Cindy’s soul still belongs to her. I suggest we vote a straight ticket–Green.

  7. Robert B. Livingston said on February 9th, 2008 at 11:39pm #

    I like the fact that Zeese is thinking smart outside of the box.

    Personally, I would like to see Ralph Nader back Cynthia McKinney who seems to wisely be her own person– note her support for New Orlean’s Reconstruction Party, her continued outspokeness about economic and racial injustice… and gulp… 9/11 and Cointelpro (not exactly front page news for the GP of A).

    Dennis is being McKinney’d– it was coming the very moment that he said on stage that he would not support a nominee that is not antiwar.

    3 questions remain: Is Barack Obama sufficiently antiwar? Is Hillary Clinton’s campaign toast– or are there a few tricks left up the Democratic Leadership Council’s sleeve? Has Kucinich crumpled in his promise to press for impeachment?

    Interesting to see the number of Greens flaking out to join the Obama feel-good train… when they could be coalescing with people like Sheehan and McKinney and Nader to keep making strong demands.

    Without those demands– Obama will have a hard time asserting real progressive changes; if left to challenge McCain without pressure would he be tempted to get a hawk to be his running mate– ratchet of the belligerancy rhetoric?

    Is there any pressure on him now to contemplate the “I” word (impeachment)?

    Lots of questions here… few answers– so long as peace candidates go things alone and do not show unambiguous solidarity. Who is taking a leap of faith?

  8. Jeremy Wells said on February 10th, 2008 at 3:01pm #

    The conservative, corporatist nature of the Democratic Party is once again confirmed. It’s refusal to allow Kucinich or Edwards even to have a voice in the primary “debates” to challenge the views of Obama/Clinton on the war, health care, etc. on the corporate controlled mass-media is yet another. Taking impeachment “off the table” means that not only must the peoples of the Middle East suffer another year of the war. We must suffer yet another Bush budget, a exaerbation of Global warming, continued privatization (looting) of the federal government etc.

    For “progressives”, Progressive Democrats of America, Move-On, etc. “hope springs eteranl” and “anyone but Bush of 2004” is now in 2008 “any Democrat over any Republican”. So what if a Democrat is elected President? Does it mean anything for the millions of working people without health insurance, up to their ears in credit card debt, losing their homes, public education in serious decline, etc.etc. (too numous to itemize here).

    The Kucinichs, Naders, Sheehans of this country need to issue a issue a call for a new anti-war, anti-corporate People’s Peace Party to unite the millions of people into a focus movement to rid the country of Democrats and Republicans. Both parties are corporate controlled by corporate money.

    The organized labor movement, long considering itself a “business partner” to corporate capitalism, has actively participated in it’s own decline and political impotence. Global corporate capitalism, forever in search of maximization of profit, has moved millions of labor intensive jobs over seas. Capitalism, devoted to enriching the few at the expense of the majority, must be replaced with a ecologically sustainable economic system “of by and for” the needs of the people.

    Without this transition to a socialist economy, war for profit will endlessly destroy the planet and this country. Global warming will continue as profitable polluters continue unabated. The economy and the standard of living of ordinary working people will continue to decline into such massive poverty, disease, the U.S. will become a third world country. (a tiny billionaire ruling elite ruling over a majority of impoverished people.)

  9. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 10th, 2008 at 4:29pm #

    You don’t have to vote for Sheehan to support her, greybeard. Which of course your post itself does. Did she insult the Green’s?


  10. Corey Mondello said on February 11th, 2008 at 4:46am #

    If this is true, isn’t Nancy Pelosi breaking the law?

    What the “F” is wrong with America?

    I am disgusted.

    I am going to call Pelosi’s office today, and then both my Senators and my Representative about this.

    Our votes don’t count, elections are rigged, we are lied into a war, our president breaks the law knowingly and quite proudly, our taxes are going to other countries while there are millions of Americans who need help.


    I can’t say that enough!


  11. Mobius said on February 11th, 2008 at 1:11pm #

    This is a hoax and has been disproven:

  12. Gary said on February 12th, 2008 at 9:04pm #

    GLAD this is a hoax. Or at least partly a hoax. The article says Dennis and his office deny the part of the story about “The Visit”, but the article says nothing about a generalized DLC/AIPAC campaign against him.

    There would be no evident need to visit Dennis to make Dennis “an offer he could not refuse”. Everyone in Congress knows these stakes, going back to mild conservative Paul Findlay and others, and now Jim Moran who was being made out to be like Joseph Goebbels for criticizing AIPAC.

    It is obvious that Dennis Kucinich already figuratively “threw the DLC and the Israeli Lobby out of his office” when he took those critical positions.

    It is NOT AT ALL unlikely that Cimperman’s campaign is being financed by Pelosi, DLC, and AIPAC, and that the support he’s getting from the Plain Dealer includes these forces.

    Rahm Emanuel, in his position as DCCC Head under Pelosi, sought out wealthy conservatives to finance Democratic pro-war opposition candidates to Democratic grassroots antiwar candidates — though he sent out a letter from DCCC stressing that it is their policy to remain neutral — and even when the outcome was the comparatively “unknown” Democrat challenger ultimately and predictably lost the seat to the Republican opponent.

    “But pressure coming from the national Democratic Party was too great. The Democrats had found a challenger for Cegelis, an Iraq veteran named Tammy Duckworth. Contributions were pouring into the opposing campaign and Duckworth was shuttled into the national media spotlight. Cegelis began receiving calls from Democratic members of Congress informing her that they were planning to support Duckworth.”

    The article on this was on Truthout, it is a scandal because Dems undermined their own party to help Bush and the Republicans, and that helped give them the excuse that they could claim “deadlock” an insufficient votes to oppose Bush and his allies.

    Democrat leader sabotaged antiwar candidates election.
    Complicit in continuation of the war

  13. COMarc said on February 14th, 2008 at 6:51am #

    What I’ve seen is that Dems have held up Kucinich and his Presidential campaigns as reasons why the left and progressives need to stay with the Dem party. Then they do this. I wish Kucinich well in his drive to stay in Congress. I’ll probably donate to that. But at some point, I’m also hoping his helps to wake up the left to the fact that there’s really no room for anyone to the left of Reagan in the Dem party any more. Maybe its time to face facts and for the entire left to get up and leave the party.

    If it really happened, it would be interesting to see. The Dems want to be Republicans. But the Republican voters already vote Republican, so why would they vote for DINOs? The Dems need the left because that’s the only people they can con into voting for their candidates. But, maybe, just maybe this will be the sign of the end of that.

    I’d really get a kick out of it if Dennis would announce both that he’s leaving the Dem party and still running for his seat in Congress as an Independent or a Green.

    Screw the Dems! I like Kucinich, but screw the rest of that party. The left really needs to make defeating Democrats their top priority. It doesn’t even matter at this stage if the left can win on their own, but there’s lots of races out there with pro-corporate Dems taking up political space that the left needs. Lets go get them and make them lose. Lets see if we can bring the Dem party to its knees by putting left wing candidates against it in the general election in one three-way race after another.

    The Dem party is build on winning. They have to win to attract the bribe money that fuels their campaigns. No big money is going to back the Dems if they start losing all the time. Lets make defeating Dems the top priority. And we can have fun supporting candidates we really like in three-way elections while doing it!