LORAIN — Music mogul Russell Simmons went from helping President Barack Obama raise $5 million earlier this week to stumping with U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich on Saturday.
During the pair’s stop at Gardens of Charleston Coffee Shop in Lorain, Simmons told the crowd that he had backed the Cleveland congressman in his presidential runs and was supporting him again in his effort to remain in Congress.
“We need someone we know has a backbone, who stands up,” Simmons said.
Kucinich is in the final days of a bitter primary battle with U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, and Cleveland entrepreneur Graham Veysey.
Simmons said he rarely gets involved in local elections, but he said he and Kucinich are friends, fellow vegans and share the same progressive values.
“He’s working for the people and not the special interests,” Simmons said.
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After Simmons was done speaking, Kucinich stood up and thanked Simmons for his support, telling his supporters that while Simmons had helped Obama raise money, he wanted something else.
“What we want to do here is raise votes!” he said to cheers.
Kucinich continued to use the same anti-war rhetoric he has throughout the campaign, arguing that the war in Iraq was a mistake he has opposed from the beginning. He said the country needs to focus on its own problems.
“We’ve got to stop going around the world looking for dragons to slay,” Kucinich said.
Before they arrived in Lorain, Kucinich and Simmons held a similar event in Toledo, where both Kaptur and Veysey also were campaigning Saturday.
Redistricting forced Kucinich and Kaptur into the same district. The winner of the primary will advance to the November election where they’ll face the winner of the Republican primary, which pits Samuel “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher again Huron auctioneer Steve Kraus.
Kucinich ended his speech in Lorain with a call for volunteers to help him get out his message in the final days before Tuesday’s election and promised that he would spend part of Election Day in Lorain, where he intends to attend a Lorain Schools band concert.
Paul Vogelsang, a spokesman for Veysey’s campaign, said his candidate also will be crisscrossing the district right up until the polls close. Although Veysey spent much of his day in Toledo on Saturday, Vogelsang said Veysey has made numerous stops in Lorain County during the campaign and will do so again before the end.
“We do have some busy days ahead of us and probably not a lot of sleep, but that’s OK,” Vogelsang said.
Kaptur spokesman Matthew Klempner said the congresswoman was attending an event in Toledo on Saturday night, but spent the day going door-to-door in an effort to meet voters.
“She said it was cold, but it was a warm welcome,” Klempner said.
He said Kaptur will remain on the campaign trail through Tuesday.
It isn’t just congressional candidates who are getting in some last minute campaigning this weekend, local candidates were out in force on Saturday as well.
There are two contested primary races for county commissioner and three judicial races in which more than one candidate is running.
Lorain attorneys Chris Cook and John Miraldi, the two candidates running in the Democratic primary to replace retiring county Common Pleas Judge Edward Zaleski, said they are both out trying to drum up support.
“It’s hard for judicial candidates to get their name out there,” Cook said. “It’s not like a congressman or a state senator.”
Cook said he attended several events Saturday and that he and about 50 volunteers spread out in Avon, Elyria, Lorain and Oberlin during the day to drop off 5,000 pieces of campaign literature at Democratic households.
Miraldi said although he wasn’t campaigning Saturday night because of a family event, he did so earlier in the day and planned to continue talking to voters through Election Day. He said may do some targeted calls to potential voters and also hopes to be able to stand outside some factories to talk with workers coming or going from their shifts.
Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.