Perhaps no other member of Congress has been willing to try to stop a war, impeach a vice president, admit seeing a UFO and run for president twice.
But Democratic Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio has been the political left's patron saint of lost causes. Now he faces perhaps his toughest crusade: finding his next job.
Kucinich, 65, lost a nasty primary Tuesday that pitted him against a onetime ally, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Redistricting by the state Legislature all but eliminated Kucinich's home turf. Even star-studded help — campaign contributions from actor Warren Beatty and a daylong flurry of Twitter shout-outs from hip-hop legend Russell Simmons — couldn't save Kucinich.
Now the congressman, hailed as an icon of the left and a champion of the downtrodden, is a politician without a populace.
"Congress will be a weaker place without his voice," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who has known Kucinich for decades. "There is no question Dennis Kucinich has been a unique voice fighting for issues most other politicians would not go near."
The small and hyperkinetic congressman returned to the Capitol on Wednesday to handshakes and slaps on the back, and spent the afternoon casting votes. He said he had no Plan B after his defeat, even though he had at one point scouted out running for the House from Washington state, in case his district was eliminated.
"I'm totally at peace and have a sense of equanimity about it," Kucinich said in an interview, then paraphrased advice Merlin reputedly gave King Arthur after a tough match:
"The trick is whether you can triumph over victory as well as defeat," Kucinich said. "I've tried to see both victory and defeat as impostors and not to be too moved by either of them, and know that each brings new opportunities and new possibilities."