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Originally published June 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM | Page modified June 1, 2011 at 4:04 PM

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Joni Balter / Seattle Times editorial columnist

Dennis Kucinich, D-Carpetbagger

Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich traveled to Washington a couple of times in May, prompting rampant speculation he is district shopping for Congress. No matter how many visits he makes, he will still offend the many capable candidates who live here and know our issues better than he does.

Seattle Times editorial columnist

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When we last caught up with Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich he was suing a congressional cafeteria because an olive pit appeared in his sandwich. Life, especially in the Longworth House Office Building eatery, should be easy, breezy — or, how to say, free of pits.

This same congressman delights a small, passionate group of Northwesterners who want him to move to Washington state and run for Congress in 2012. His Ohio district could be eliminated by redistricting and his state's shrinking population, leaving an orphaned Kucinich looking for an überliberal district to keep his job.

To the broader Washington audience, Kucinich can take his opportunistic wares elsewhere. Our state has plenty of qualified candidates who know the place and would better represent existing districts and a new 10th District.

Kucinich came to Washington for May Day, generated a ton of please-go-away press, but returned a week or so ago, patronizing and clueless as that might seem.

Not only are party leaders not thrilled about having the perennial presidential candidate and UFO enthusiast as a candidate, it is high chutzpah for Kucinich to think he can abandon Ohio and come here.

After all, what does a congressman do for a living? He understands a place and speaks on behalf of constituents he knows well. How could Kucinich grasp Washington issues when he likely can't pronounce Pysht? (Say pisht).

Certainly, many Washington politicians moved here from elsewhere. Former Sen. Slade Gorton, former U.S. Rep John Miller and former Seattle Mayor Norm Rice come to mind. But each moved here, spent time and learned about the region before seeking public office.

The law merely requires a candidate to move to the state and register to vote before filing for office. The filing deadline next year will be in mid-May. So unless Kucinich bails on Ohio months early, he would be registered here with his Ohio term still under way.

"The idea of a sitting elected official from one state running for office in a different state, I think is incredibly unique and fundamentally offensive," said state Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz.

The residency requirement for Congress should be more like in-state college tuition: Be a resident a year and establish legal ties — a job, a driver's license and auto registration. And no, spotting a UFO in the sky near Graham years ago, as Kucinich claims, while hanging out with actress Shirley MacLaine is not a qualifying event.

Some Kucinichites say Congressman Jay Inslee of Bainbridge Island is a carpetbagger. He lived in Eastern Washington and was congressman there before moving to the 1st District. Oh, please. Inslee was born in Seattle and graduated from Ingraham High School. He moved west and worked in the community before running for Congress.

Democrats worry Kucinich would run and lose a seat for the D's. Kucinich may play well in some urban areas, but not the suburbs, where the new congressional seat likely will be located or where there would be a potential open seat if Inslee runs for governor.

A new KING 5/SurveyUSA poll shows 21 percent of 1st District registered voters view Kucinich favorably compared with 46 percent with a negative view — a load of baggage to cart to a new political home.

Homegrown Democrats and Republicans are emerging. Former state Rep. Laura Ruderman, Democrat, announced Wednesday she is running for Congress. Another possibility is Suzan DelBene, an impressive Democratic challenger in 2010 to Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in the 8th.

Democrat Denny Heck, who lost to Rep. Jaime Herrera in the 3rd, is running for Congress in 2012. Republicans have Snohomish County Councilman John Koster most likely in the 2nd District. And if Reichert surprises people and runs for U.S. Senate against Democrat Maria Cantwell, you might add King County Councilman Reagan Dunn to the congressional mix.

Republicans would love to run against Kucinich in a suburban congressional district because he is a fringe liberal sporting a carpetbagger label.

If Kucinich doesn't get the go-away-now hint, you can picture early ads from his opponents — cue the sci-fi music — that turn into nonstop reminders of a long ago UFO.

Joni Balter's column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. Her email address is jbalter@seattletimes.com

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