Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Cindy Sheehan to Pelosi: Impeach Bush, or I’ll Run Against You
Antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan mainly has targeted her wrath over Iraq at President George W. Bush and other Republicans. But just more than a month ago, she pronounced herself disillusioned with the leaders of the Democratic Party, calling them too soft on Bush.
And now Sheehan says she is considering taking her displeasure directly to the source — by waging a third-party challenge to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi next year in the California Democrat’s San Francisco-based 8th District.
Sheehan told the Associated Press on Sunday that she would enter the 2008 House contest, in one of the nation’s most solidly Democratic and liberal-leaning districts, unless Pelosi introduces articles of impeachment against Bush by July 23.
Sheehan said she believes the president misled the public about the reasons why he took the nation to war in Iraq and committed other impeachable offenses.
Moved to political activism by the death of her son while serving in Iraq, Sheehan rose to national attention in 2005 as she set up camp outside Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, and demanded without success an audience with the president to discuss her grievances over the war as the mother of a serviceman killed in action.
Sheehan announced late this May that she was leaving the Democratic Party because she felt its members in Congress were “caving in” to the president by supporting continued funding for the war in Iraq.
Pelosi has been an outspoken critic of the president on Iraq as well as a long list of other issues. But she has declined to use her position as leader of the House Democrats to block approval of Iraq funding legislation, which most Republicans and many Democrats argue would constitute abandoning U.S. troops in the field.
This is not the first time Sheehan has tested the waters for a challenge to a sitting Democratic officeholder. She threatened to wage a primary campaign in 2006 against California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, but demurred early that February. The consensus among political analysts was that Sheehan was unlikely to pose a serious threat to Feinstein, who coasted to an easy re-election victory last year.
Similarly, while Sheehan might gain a platform to air her views by waging a campaign against Pelosi, she would face an uphill battle to be considered a serious contender for the 8th District seat.
Despite criticism from Sheehan and others on the left, Pelosi is the embodiment of Democratic liberalism to many conservatives. Republican operatives in many 2006 Senate and House races, especially in places with generally moderate-to-conservative voting tendencies, sought to villainize Pelosi and tie Democratic candidates to her.
But with public support for Bush and congressional Republicans at low ebb, Democrats made major gains in the 2006 elections and took control of both the House and Senate — an achievement that made Pelosi House Speaker and the highest-ranking woman in the history of the U.S. government.
At home, Pelosi has long been well-received by her Bay Area supporters and appears virtually safe for re-election to an 11th full term in 2008.
Republican Dana Walsh filed a statement of candidacy for the race, but has only a small GOP base with which to work — as underscored by the district’s 2006 election, when Pelosi romped to victory with 80 percent of the vote. Republican Mike DeNunzio received less than 11 percent and finished just 3 percentage points ahead of Green Party nominee Krissy Keefer.
© 2006 Congressional Quarterly