Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the ultra-left Ohio Congressman who has a penchant for running for president and not getting anywhere, is in danger of losing his congressional seat, which is based in the Cleveland area but might disappear when redistricting takes place later this year. So Kucinich is exploring the idea of running for Congress from Washington state, where his political views would align with many in that west-coast bastion of liberalism. Kucinich certainly wouldn’t be the first person to go seeking a place from which to run and serve. Bobby Kennedy did it way back in the 1960s, running for, and getting elected to, the U.S. Senate from New York, despite the fact that he was a lifelong resident of Massachusetts. More recently, Hillary Clinton also migrated to New York to run for the Senate. A Texas Congressman named Ed Foreman lost his House seat in the 1960s and then ran successfully from New Mexico.
There’s something we don’t like about that, though it’s certainly legal. The U.S Constitution requires only that people running for Congress “shall, when elected, be an inhabitant of the state for which he shall be chosen.” That’s as easy to get around as one-two-three: go to an area, rent an apartment and run for office. But while it might be legal, it doesn’t seem right. We readily acknowledge that voters often don’t seem to mind people coming into their states to represent them. After all, it worked pretty well for Clinton, didn’t it?
But it seems to us like rank carpet bagging. Kucinich might believe that his views will fly well in the Seattle area, but we recall a statement uttered years ago by former House Speaker Tip O’Neill of Massachusetts: “all politics is local.” It’s impossible for someone to move into a state for the first time and know the issues which concern the people of that state. It is, we think, a bit arrogant. That’s why we hope Kucinich will lose if he runs from anywhere other than his home state, and we would wish the same fate on anyone who picks and chooses an area from which to run.