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Elizabeth Harper and Dennis Kucinich

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Photo: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images

Elizabeth and Dennis Kucinich, Cleveland, Ohio, 12/12/2006

Photo: Bill Pugliano / Getty Images
After a quick courtship, Elizabeth Harper and Dennis Kucinich's marriage had to deal with quite a few challenges. There is a 31-year age difference between them, they have very different backgrounds, and Dennis' presidential campaign put their lives and marriage in the spotlight.

Here is information about how Elizabeth and Dennis met, their marriage, and more.

Born:

Dennis John Kucinich: October 8, 1946 in Cleveland, Ohio.

Elizabeth Jane Harper: October 22, 1977 in North Ockendon, London, England.

How Elizabeth and Dennis Met:

Dennis and Elizabeth first met in Washington D.C. at a meeting on monetary policy. They became engaged the second time they saw one another and they were married within three months.

Elizabeth: "I had an eight-minute meeting and just knew as soon as I met Dennis that he was my husband."
Source: Norah O'Donnell interview, "An unconventional political wife Elizabeth Kucinich on health care, tongue rings and love at first sight", MSNBC.com

Elizabeth about their engagement: "Neither one of us proposed to the other, instead the love we felt for each other was all that needed to be expressed -- we just knew that marriage was for us." Later, "Dennis officially proposed on bended knee in front of the peace fountain in downtown Cleveland, with a clear blue citrine stone ring, just two days before the wedding day. But as Elizabeth puts it, they got engaged the day they met."
Source: "Dennis & Elizabeth Kucinich's Wedding Story." BridesDecide.

Wedding Date:

Dennis and Elizabeth were married on August 21, 2005 in an outdoor wedding at Mall B in Cleveland, Ohio. Elizabeth wore an ivory wedding dress with a chiffon train which she had purchased a few years earlier in London. Elizabeth's bouquet included ivory, peach, and pink gladioli. Dennis's wedding attire was a gray-blue waistcoat with coattails and a bow tie.

Along with numerous relatives and friends, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn were among the 350 guests.

Wedding Reception:

Dennis and Elizabeth's wedding reception was held in the rotunda of Cleveland City Hall. They planned on having an alcohol-free, vegan reception but a friend brought some beer.

Honeymoon:

Elizabeth and Dennis spent their honeymoon in Catawba, Ohio.

Children:

Dennis has one daughter.

  • Jacqueline "Jackie" Kucinich: Jackie is a reporter. Her mother is Sandra Lee McCarthy.

Occupations:

Dennis: City Council member in Cleveland, Mayor of Cleveland, Congressman, and assorted jobs such as teacher, hospital orderly, golf caddy, author, television political analyst, newspaper copy clerk, copy editor, sports writer, and consultant.

Elizabeth: Fund raiser, volunteer British Red Cross refugee caseworker.

Previous Marriages:

This is the first marriage for Elizabeth. Dennis had two previous marriages that ended in divorce.

  • Helen ?: The book Cleveland: 1930-2000 by Thea Gallo Becker has a photo of Helen Kucinich standing next to Dennis at the 1971 swearing in of Mayor Perk.

    "Reportedly, Kucinich's first marriage dissolved because his wife Helen wanted a home and a family; Dennis was said to be interested only in a career."
    Source: Frank Kuznik, "Kucinich on the Couch", Clevelandmagazine.com, via Archive.org, June 1978.

    Author Carl Lieberman, in his book Government and Politics in Ohio, page 202, mentioned that Kucinich's first wife Helen disliked his political life.

  • Sandra Lee McCarthy-Horn: Dennis and Sandra were married on January 15, 1977. They divorced in 1986 or 1987.

    "Sandy Kucinich, Dennis' second wife, also works at City Hall, assuming a motherly role toward Dennis. In interviews, she is fond of pointing out that she is a perfect helpmate to her husband, and sees to his day-to-day needs. "I am his best friend," she constantly tells reporters. "It reminds you of the stereotyped Jewish mother," comments one psychiatrist. "She's there fussing over him, like, 'Look at the little fella - that's my boy.'"
    Source: Frank Kuznik, "Kucinich on the Couch", Clevelandmagazine.com, via Archive.org, June 1978.

Quotes:

Elizabeth about Dennis: "Well, I love him to bits in every single way. I love his mind, I love his work, I love everything about him. And I did from the second that I met. He has an incredible presence, which is very special."
Source: MSNBC.com

Dennis about meeting Elizabeth: "I saw her eyes go to the light consciousness picture, then to the Gandhi bust, then to me. It was like one, two, three. That's when I knew."
Source: Evelyn Theiss, "How Kucinich Found Love", CommonDreams.org, published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/2005.

Elizabeth about their age difference: "People who see us together understand - they see our connection. And it's not like I'm some ditsy young thing and he's an old fogey. He has the wisdom of an ancient and the energy of youth."
Source: Evelyn Theiss, "How Kucinich Found Love", CommonDreams.org, published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/2005.

Elizabeth about their May-December marriage: “I have never noticed it at all. Dennis is a very mature but young-at-heart gentleman and we complement each other.”
source: Sarah Baxter, "Essex girl fills White house race with lurve", TimesOnline.co.uk, 5/20/2007.

Dennis about their age difference: "I've never seen myself as time-bound. When you make a connection on a soul level, age is not important."
Source: Evelyn Theiss, "How Kucinich Found Love", CommonDreams.org, published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 10/30/2005.

Dennis about his divorce from Sandy: "I think that everyone who has ever served in public life recognizes the extra pressures that are put on family."
Source: Mark Caro, "Dennis Kucinich: The combative mystic", ChicagoTribune.com, 11/07/2003.

Dennis about relationships: "I've learned a lot about life and relationships and what's important in life. Our relationship is more important to me than holding office, than running for office, than anything. It's a cohesive force in my life."
Source: Audrey S. Chapman, "Dennis Kucinich: The Story", Clevelandmagazine.com, via Archive.org, May 1996.

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