Trailing in polls, Kucinich gains loyal following in Fairfield area

Fairfield Daily Ledger/January 15, 2004
By Erik Gable

Members of Natural Law Party embrace Democratic candidate.

He doesn't get as much press as Howard Dean or Dick Gephardt, and polls consistently rank him in the single digits, but Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich has developed a devoted following in Fairfield, due in part to members of the Transcendental Meditation community.

He's been endorsed by John Hagelin, three-time presidential candidate for the Fairfield-based Natural Law Party. Messages to the Natural Law Party's Fairfield e-mail list update supporters on Kucinich events in the area. And a house party Saturday afternoon at a Sthapatya-Veda mansion near Maharishi Vedic City drew a few hundred admirers to watch a presentation to the Ohio congressman from a group of Maharishi School students.

Members of the Students Creating Peace Network, an organization founded by Maharishi School students after Sept. 11, 2001, designed an award for Kucinich called the Shanti Award. "Shanti" means "peace" in Sanskrit, which is taught to Maharishi School students and appears along with English on Maharishi Vedic City's official signs.

The students hope to give the award annually, according to Lynn Kaplan, Maharishi School public relations teacher and the group's advisor. They chose Kucinich as its first recipient and designed it with him in mind.

Kucinich was introduced Saturday by Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy and by Hagelin, who quipped that as he was entering the room, "I felt a little like John the Baptist, heralding the coming of a saint." Kucinich and Hagelin have been friends since they met at a forum on genetically modified foods in 2000. Two years ago, Hagelin said, he was walking the halls of Congress lobbying for the Natural Law Party's platform and found Kucinich, the author of legislation calling for a cabinet-level Department of Peace, a natural ally.

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