As in states across the nation, Maine is home to candidates whose campaigns are inspired primarily by their anger about the war in Iraq. They want U.S. troops to leave Iraq either immediately or quickly. The growing success of the insurgents and the nascent Iraqi civil war fuel their moral outrage.
Connecticut’s Democratic senatorial candidate Ned Lamont is the best known of these candidates because he defeated Sen. Joe Lieberman in a primary. But even Mr. Lamont has an anti-war opponent, Ralph Ferrucci, running to his left. It’s that kind of election season. After six years of general seething about Bush administration policies, 2006 is a time of specific seething. In the 1st Congressional District, Maine has Dexter Kamilewicz, running against Democratic Rep. Tom Allen and Republican challenger state Rep. Darlene Curley. In the race for Senate, it is Bill Slavick, running against Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe and Democratic challenger Jean Hay Bright.
Though neither candidate has shown signs of finishing anything but third in their races, both have drawn attention to questions about the war, a success of a different measure. Through their campaigns, they legitimize strong dissent.
From Mr. Kamilewicz: “I call for an immediate vote in Congress to stop funding the war in Iraq. … I call upon Congress to begin making a plan for reparations to be paid to Iraq to restore what the United States has destroyed.”
From Mr. Slavick: “Our continued presence [in Iraq] only prolongs uncontrollable violence. We must leave Iraq – leave expensive permanent bases under construction, leave stolen reconstruction money, leave funds for reconstruction of what we have destroyed, leave in as helpful a way as we can.”
These candidates are running because their messages are being supported by voters, albeit a minority of voters, and because the counter-argument, of patience and persistence with the current strategy, grows thinner by the day. Congress knows this, but it doesn’t know what to do about it.
The presence of these candidates are daily reminders that not only doesn’t the United States have a lot of time left to change course in Iraq, members of Congress too may soon run out of time for overhauling their thinking about the war.