Kucinich meet-ups draw diversity
He’s dead last in most polls. And the U.S. congressman from Ohio is becoming best known for using a visual aid (holding up a pie chart) during the taping of a radio show. But some Reno supporters of Dennis Kucinich for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination predict their candidate will surprise.

“He’s the only candidate with a plan for universal health care, the only candidate with a 90-day exit strategy for Iraq that involves bringing in the U.N., and the only one with a plan to provide free education from preschool to college for everyone,” says Jeff Knutsen, 49, state coordinator of Northern Nevada for Kucinich. “I don’t think [Howard] Dean could win because he’s promoting the same policies [as the Bush Administration]. He’ll keep us in Iraq. He’ll continue our for-profit health care system, and he has corporate backing, the same as Bush. How will he inspire anyone if he’s the same?”

Last Thursday, two groups of Kucinich supporters met—one at a private residence in Sparks, where 30 people watched, This is the Moment. The campaign video outlines the history of and issues in Kucinich’s campaign. The show sparked spirited discussion about honesty and trustworthiness in politics.

The second meeting took place at Dreamers Café, on the bottom floor of the Riverside Artists Lofts. As 20 or so supporters of Howard Dean met on one side of the café, a smaller group sat together on some couches and talked about the upcoming elections. Supporters were a diverse bunch: Greens, Libertarians, Democrats, Independents, even one former Republican.

“Dennis Kucinich has a chance, if everyone who agreed with his plans were to vote for him,” said Steven Gifford of Reno. “The general population needs to hear Dennis’ views.”

Patty Knudsen respects Kucinich for his high ideals regarding every aspect of public life, including campaign finances.

“All the front runners except for Dennis are accepting private funds,” Knudsen said. “They’re all beholden. Kucinich is strictly public funds and matching funds.”

In fact, she said Kucinich is the only candidate to inspire her own political activism. “I was never interested in politics until I saw Dennis speak. He filled me with hope that there is another way.”

Said Amy Cordick of Sparks: “Dennis won’t sell out. He didn’t vote for the Iraq War or the PATRIOT Act. These are facts, not rhetoric.”

Local meet-ups are held for four Democratic candidates: Kucinich, Howard Dean, John Kerry and Wesley Clark. For more info, call Washoe County Democratic Party headquarters at 348-8691.