On Saturday morning, under a gray drizzle, Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich endorsed City Council candidate Doug Biviano, who worked on the congressman’s 2008 presidential campaign and is running for a seat in the 33rd council district.
Later, Kucinich stood inside the Brooklyn Heights campaign headquarters, posing for pictures and chatting with Biviano’s supporters.
Kucinich reminisced about his own first campaign, a race for a city council seat in Cleveland.
“There’s metaphysics in the very first race, and the very first door that you knock on, because you know the response at that first door is going to predict your entire political future,” he said.
At his first door, Kucinich recalled, a woman came to the screen door and looked at him, before disappearing back into her house. “Because I had never done this before, I waited to see if she would come back,” he said.
“And she did come back. So I thought, ‘Finally I’m going to get a chance to make my pitch and tell her I’ll stand up and speak out for her in the city council.’ And she reaches out her hand, and I reach towards her, and she drops some coins in my hand, and she says, ‘I thought I had already paid you for the paper.’”
Kucinich went on to win the race and serve four terms.
I asked Biviano what his first door said about his own prospects, but he couldn’t recall the event.
“Just keep in mind, obviously, I was traumatized because I still remember it 42 years later,” Kucinich said.
Earlier, Biviano explained that he had first heard Kucinich on the radio program Democracy Now, and was immediately attracted to his progressive ideas. Biviano served as the state coordinator for Kucinich’s 2008 campaign, and, as a candidate, he has frequently criticized the Iraq War and the nation's lack of universal health care, which he calls a “Hidden Katrina.”
“He’s shaped my politics and he’s shaped me personally as a community member,” Biviano said. He called Kucinich a “pragmatic leader” and a “model.”
Kucinich said Biviano was “exactly the kind of person we need on the City Council, not just in Brooklyn, but on city councils across the country.”
After the speeches, they went for an endorsement stroll, trailed by a group of sign-wielding supporters, through a farmer’s market in front of Brooklyn Borough Hall. Kucinich wore jeans and a blazer adorned with a Congressional lapel pin, and he held hands with his wife, Elizabeth, as they admired the fresh produce.
“Is it all organic?” Kucinich asked.
“No,” Biviano said, “but it’s all local.”
Beneath the artisanal goat cheese tent, a rangy man recognized the diminutive congressman and introduced himself. Kucinich knew the man’s father, who was a diplomat.
A tent filled with organic bread caught the congressman’s eye and, as it turns out, the woman behind the counter was from Tibet.
“Please give my love to the Tibetan community, and we’ll continue to work hard for them,” Kucinich told her.
“Who was that?” she asked, wide-eyed, after he walked away.
Just before he left, Kucinich urged Biviano’s supporters to push hard until Tuesday’s primary, and he showed off the loaf of bread he had just purchased.
“Peasant bread, of course,” Kucinich said.