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Election 2008

(Still) Campaigning for Kucinich

John Moe

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Homemade Fervor
(John Moe)
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In Shoreline, Wash., just north of Seattle, there's a Korean barbeque place, payday loan office and taco stand operating out of a school bus. Then you find 15005 Aurora Avenue North. The sign on top says it's a jewelry store but there are Kucinich signs in the windows. Inside are some people who are either living in a quixotic delusional dream world or are nobly crusading on behalf of their ideals.

Rebecca Wolfe is the Washington state coordinator for the Dennis Kucinich campaign 2008, which is based out of this storefront office. "We always mention storefront because it was an issue in one of the debates. That in Iowa, excuse me the Iowa caucus, they didn't let him debate because he didn't have a storefront office, so we made sure we got a storefront office," she says. "It formerly was a jewelry store. And until a renter chooses to rent here, we can stay here and work on our issues even after the campaign is over."

Many would argue the campaign is over. Her candidate dropped out. Why is she still here?

"The message is, 'Not-for-profit, single-payer health care needs a voice in our government and in our house of representatives. Ending illegitimate wars and building peace needs a voice, bilateral trade agreements needs a voice.' And so he is the voice. But we are also the voice," she says. "We're still here because we feel that at the precinct level you can caucus for anyone. You could even caucus for Al Gore or somebody who isn't even on the ballot. But Dennis Kucinich is on the ballot."

Wolfe plans on keeping the Kucinich campaign active in this Saturday's Washington state caucuses even though Kucinich himself has left the campaign trail. And she's not without a strategy?

"We'd like to have everyone there no later than 1 p.m. And the first preference would be Kucinich. If we don't have enough for a delegate we'd go uncommitted. And what we want is for more and more people to go uncommitted so that neither Obama nor Clinton can get a win. And if we can get enough uncommitted people, then they can influence the policies or the people or even the platform at the national convention."

Operating a campaign office for a candidate no longer running calls to mind the word "denial."

Wolfe sees it another way. "I would hope that they realize what we're working on is bigger than just Kucinich. And so we use the Kucinich campaigns, especially now that he's running for Congress -- we're working for him even from here to make sure he stays in the Congress -- because he has a message, and people need to pay attention to the message and not just that it's one candidate or the other."

We're sitting at a long table in the campaign office. There are a couple chairs set up. Wolfe says the storefront is mainly for meetings. All phone bank work is done from volunteers' homes. "All the display lights are decorated with Kucinich for President blue balloons, just to make it a happier place. And we have banners that say 'Dennis Kucinich the life of the party' because after he was bumped from the Nevada debate by the Supreme Court, we had a conference call for all the state coordinators, and I remember the New York coordinator said, 'Dennis, what do I tell people now that you've dropped out?' And he said, 'Just tell them I'm the life of the party.'"

After Kucinich dropped out, did she consider dropping out herself?

"First I thought now I can rest a little bit," Wolfe says. "For my own selfish purposes, momentarily I thought, well I can get my life back to normal, see my children and my grandchildren again. And then right away we were getting messages from people, and I agreed with them, that we have to stay on message and we have to keep this going."

So her approach now is to use the same strategy as if he had stayed in.

Before I leave, the only other person there, Mary Retallick, hands me a business card. She had the card printed up herself. It says 'Office Manager.' She does all the work on the one computer they have set up. Mary rides the bus two hours every morning from Tacoma and then two hours back home at the end of the day. It's a volunteer position.

  • Music Bridge:
    Make Out Machine
    Artist: Slow Poke
    CD: At Home (Palmetto)
More stories from our Election 2008 series


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  • By Mari Anderson

    From Titusville, FL, 02/12/2008

    Thank you Washington! I voted for Dennis in the FL primary. He had been 'disapeared' by the time we had our primary but he was the only one worthy of my vote. It is imperative to support Dennis in his fight to keep his congressional seat. He is a voice that needs to be heard, he fights for us on every important issue. Wedapeople were robbed of hope. Democrats have shot themselves in the foot!

    By Sharon Abreu

    From Eastsound, WA, 02/09/2008

    Today on our little Orcas Island, with 4 precincts, we elected 3 delegates for Dennis Kucinich to go on to the Legislative District Caucus and County Convention. Not too bad for a little island experiencing Obama fever and a candidate who was forced out of the presidential race by the Democratic Party and the corporate-run media! Now we'll send 3 delegates to push Obama and Clinton to more courageous positions on the issues!

    By Cass Martinez

    From Portland, OR, 02/09/2008

    Lesson 1: it is forbidden to discuss impeachment, not-for-profit health care, the failure of NAFTA, CAFTA, World Bank and IMF, the corporate crime wave, prosecution of war crimes, International Criminal Court, 1 million dead, 2 million internally displaced, 2 million refugees.

    Lesson 2: when the microphones are removed and citizens' concerns are silenced, our political party/Wall Street masters pretend nothing happened and they didn't happen it.

    Mr. Moe is discreet not to point this out.

    By mike buretta

    From rice lake, WI, 02/09/2008

    Its about issues and thats whats important althogh theres a lot of talk about universal healthcare the only one that stood up for not for profit universal healthcare was dennis kucinich.
    Do yourself and friends a favor go see michael moores movie sicko then organise and help to bring real healthcare reform by getting rid of the insurance companies that have wrecked healthcare.
    Why is it the united states is the only industrialised nation (to say nothing of a lot of poor nations too) that cant seem to afford national healthcare?

    By nadia goodenu


    We can continue to fight for Dennis' platform in the US Congress. Yes We Can elect a new Congress that will cut the funding to Iraq, pass single payer health care and stop Hillary/Obama/McCain from attacking Iran. Imagine what Kucinich could do as Speaker of the House and help elect peace candidates to every district

    By Steve Chase


    Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of hope for America. Dennis Kucinich is in a dogfight to keep his Congressional seat in Ohio's 10th district. Please go to his website and make a donation to help his message be strong in his own community so this voice for single payer, not for profit, health care, peace, freedom and a full employment living wage economy stays in Congress representing the people!!

    By Ed Stamm

    From Nagoya, Japan, KS, 02/09/2008

    Amazing that Kucinich is already out of the race, when most Americans never had a chance to hear him or understand his positions: your jobs have gone overseas, your military is occupying a country that never attacked you (but which has lots of oil), your President and Vice President have broken the law (by, for example, lying to Congress), your Constitution is under attack, and your media are choosing your candidates. Wake up America!

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