By Joe Milicia
(AP) Democrat Dennis Kucinich is abandoning his second, long-shot bid for the White House as he faces a tough fight to hold onto his other job – U.S. congressman.
In an interview with Cleveland’s Plain Dealer, the six- term House member said he was quitting the race and would make a formal announcement on Friday.
‘I will be announcing that I’m transiting out of the presidential campaign,’ Kucinich said. ‘I’m making that announcement tomorrow about a new direction.’
Kucinich has received little support in his presidential bid; he got 1 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary and was shut out in the Iowa caucuses although he has a devoted following.
Kucinich, 61, is facing four challengers in the Democratic congressional primary March 4, and earlier this week he made an urgent appeal on his Web site for funds for his re-election. Rival Joe Cimperman has been critical of Kucinich for focusing too much time outside of his district while campaigning for president.
His decision comes a month after his youngest brother, Perry Kucinich, was found dead.
Kucinich said he will not endorse another Democrat in the primary. Kucinich brought the same sense of idealism to his second run for president as he did in his first bid. He said he was entering the race again because the Democratic Party wasn’t pushing hard enough to end the Iraq war.
Once dubbed the ‘boy mayor’ of Cleveland, he made an unpopular decision to refuse to sell a publicly owned utility that pushed the city into default and drove him from office.
After the city’s financial troubles, the mayor faced death threats, and was forced to wear a bulletproof vest when he threw out the first ball at a Cleveland Indians game. He barely survived a recall vote.
But he lost his bid for re-election as mayor of Cleveland in 1978 to Republican George Voinovich, who went on to become governor and then U.S. senator. His life and his political career were derailed.
Kucinich spent more than a decade trying to get back into politics – traveling around the country and then working as a teacher, consultant and television news reporter.
In 1994, Kucinich was elected state senator and he then won a seat in Congress in 1996. His once unpopular stand against the sale of the municipal electric system was praised as courageous. In 1998, the Cleveland City Council issued him a commendation for having the foresight to refuse to sell it.
During his time in Congress, Kucinich has been one of the most outspoken liberals, opposing international trade agreements like the North America Free Trade Agreement and marching with protesters in Seattle during a meeting of the World Trade Organization.
As a presidential candidate, he has proposed a Department of Peace, backed universal health care and supported gay marriage. He also pushed for impeachment of Vice President Dick Cheney.
Kucinich married British citizen Elizabeth Harper, in 2005, ensuring his 2008 campaign would have one dramatic difference from his first campaign. Kucinich told New Hampshire audiences during the 2004 race that he was seeking a mate. Women then vied for a date with him during a contest arranged by a New Hampshire political Web site, but nothing romantic evolved from Kucinich’s breakfast with the winner.