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August 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Kucinich joins local pro-pot pols at Seattle Hempfest

Posted by Jim Brunner

Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich was back in Seattle Saturday, taking the stage at Seattle's Hempfest, where he gave an impassioned speech comparing marijuana- legalization efforts to the Civil Rights movement and the Arab Spring.

It was just the latest in a steady schedule of local public appearances for Kucinich, who, despite a 'buzz off' message from state Democratic Party leaders, is continuing to explore whether to run for a congressional seat here in 2012. (His longtime West Cleveland district is in jeopardy due to redistricting.)

Kucinich on Saturday gave no more clues to his 2012 plans. But his future should become clearer in a few weeks when Ohio's new congressional district maps emerge. That will determine whether he can run again there, or try to find a new home.

During his speech, Kucinich told the blissed out crowd at Myrtle Edwards Park they could transform America through a shared awareness and activism.

"Open America! Show yourself! Mass action! This is why, and how, recent movements for freedom in Tunisia and Egypt gained momentum," Kucinich said, to warm, if not overwhelming applause.

"This is how Gandhi's march to the sea cast off the British Empire. This is how America's suffragettes gained for women the right to vote. This is how Dr. Martin Luther King's March on Washington became a pivotal moment in the history of the civil rights movement."

Kucinich didn't stop at hemp, he also exhorted the crowd to demand gay rights, universal health care and an end to U.S. military action in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Of course, Kucinich wasn't the only pro-legalization politician to take the Hempfest stage. Also speaking were Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, City Attorney Pete Holmes, City Councilman Nick Licata and state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson, D-Seattle.

So did state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, who might wind up competing with Kucinich in 2012.

Goodman has filed to run for the 1st Congressional District seat being vacated by Jay Inslee, who is running for governor. That's one of two open seats Kucinich is thought to be eyeing in Washington (the state's new 10th District is the other.)

Goodman is an attorney who has long championed marijuana legalization. His reputation is so strong in the pro-legalization community that one fellow Hempfest speaker said Kucinich would be wrong to run against him.

"He (Kucinich) can do anything he wants and this movement will be 100 percent behind him -- except run against Roger Goodman," said Don E. Wirtshafter, a longtime Hempfest activist from Ohio, in an interview.

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