- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 27, 2004

Dennis J. Kucinich’s presidential campaign rolls on, with his supporters having won endorsement from four state Democratic parties for his proposed Department of Peace and his campaign planning to take that message to the Democratic National Convention in Boston next month.

The congressman from Ohio is the only major Democratic candidate still actively challenging Sen. John Kerry, who has long since sewn up the delegates required to collect the presidential nomination at the convention, which begins July 26.

But Mr. Kucinich is still fighting and hopeful, his convention coordinator Tim Carpenter says, that he can “remind Senator Kerry there is a progressive wing, and he can be proud of the progressive wing.”

As other candidates have dropped out, Mr. Kucinich has been winning a small number of delegates and firmly occupying the antiwar ground of the Democratic Party. Mr. Kucinich has said his role is to protect the party’s left flank, and Mr. Carpenter said he is doing that by giving the 3 percent to 5 percent of the “left wing” a voice.

The candidate and his message have won some victories. Last weekend, his supporters persuaded the Texas Democratic Party to adopt a resolution calling for a federal Cabinet-level Department of Peace, following endorsements from Oregon, Colorado and Washington in previous weeks.

“It is very significant for us it’s in Texas, and Democrats in Texas are saying loudly that peace is the direction they want to move in,” said Dot Maver, Mr. Kucinich’s campaign manager. “War is not inevitable. Peace is inevitable.”

Mr. Carpenter said while he doesn’t expect the national platform to endorse a Peace Department, the campaign does hope to win inclusion of a statement calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

“What we’re going to look for is a commitment of our party to end this war,” he said.

Mr. Kucinich’s supporters haven’t played much of a role in the Democratic Platform Committee to this point, but Ms. Maver said they have been told they will have a role when the committee meets in Miami on July 9 and 10 to draft the party platform.

“We will have access at this point and are planning to bring a number of supporters to Miami,” Ms. Maver said.

A spokesman for the Democratic Party didn’t return three calls last week seeking comment on Mr. Kucinich’s role in the platform or at the convention.

Though he hasn’t won any state primaries or caucuses, Mr. Kucinich has had some solid showings. According to TheGreenPapers.com, a nonpartisan Web site that tracks delegates, he has won 67.5 delegates to the convention, ranked fifth, just behind former candidate Wesley Clark. Mr. Kucinich’s delegate count includes a very strong showing in Colorado, where he gained only 13 percent of the caucus votes on April 13 but won 22 percent, or 14, of the delegates.

Mr. Kucinich also has raised more than $11 million during his run.

Though Mr. Kucinich had some solid showings in the late primaries and caucuses, Mr. Kerry had a few stumbles. With such overwhelming showings as 92.1 percent in New Jersey, Mr. Kerry scored just 66.4 percent in Arkansas’ May 18 primary and 67.9 percent in Montana’s June 8 primary.

A spokeswoman for the Kerry campaign did not return a call for comment.

Mr. Kucinich’s campaign said as the candidate field shrank, his antiwar message unified Democrats who had been supporting other antiwar candidates and who want to see the party take a strong antiwar stance this election.

Still, on such issues as the Iraq war and trade, where Mr. Kucinich has called for repealing free-trade agreements, the campaign said other Democrats never will respect the role he has played.

“Dennis will never get the credit he deserves in this campaign for moving this debate,” Mr. Carpenter said.

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