Nashville, TN: US Senate candidate Chris Lugo has announced that he is withdrawing his candidacy from the democratic primary race August 7th in Tennessee and will instead run as an independent candidate or seek the green party nomination at their convention May 3rd in Nashville. Calling his campaign a referendum on the war, Lugo said that the democrats are sitting on the fence and he didn't think that continuing to run as a democrat would be a good fit for his campaign. "I am running for office because I want to end the war in Iraq. It is time to bring the troops home and acknowledge the terrible injustice that we have caused. It is time to stop rationalizing our wasteful military spending and abuse of the national trust in the name of a war that never should have happened. We have lost too many good people with no clear objective. We are basically repeating the mistakes of Vietnam."
Lugo said that after running as a democrat for three months his sense was that they are not ready to end the war. "Personally I think the democrats are in a better position to do some good than the republicans, but I don't think the democrats are ready yet to do the right thing. I had hoped that by running I might help push the dialogue on the peace issue, but the democrats didn't really seem to be interested. So I am going to go back to my roots as a progressive and seek the nomination of the green party which has a stronger position on the issue of peace and a generally more progressive platform all around."
According to a recent poll, about 47% of Americans say that the we should stay the course in Iraq, citing the need to stay and take care of the situation that has been created by ongoing US occupation. In contrast, Lugo feels that the troops should be withdrawn immediately. "I was listening to General Abizaid speak this week at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. He was talking about our need to protect America by being in Iraq. This is the basic problem. We are not protecting America by occupying Iraq. Iraq did not attack the United States. We attacked them. If anything we have made ourselves more insecure by occupying Iraq. We have created wounds that will take generations to heal. We have made enemies who will not forget us in their lifetime."
Citing a lack of interest in the peace issue within the democratic party, Lugo said that he was going in a different direction. "I am all for dialogue and debate on the issues, but it seems clear to me that the democratic party is not on board regarding this issue. For me the war is a moral issue of profound significance. I don't think that we can remain in Iraq and consider ourselves to be a moral nation or a righteous country. We have already violated international law and basic decency by attacking a country that was significantly weaker than us and occupying it with no clear mandate. I don't think the democratic party in Tennessee sees this issue the same way I do."
Lugo said that he wishes democratic frontrunner Bob Tuke all the best and looks forward to an opportunity to debate him and Lamar Alexander during the election season. "I have filed my papers as an independent candidate and will seek the green party nomination. I look forward to an opportunity to debate Tuke or Alexander on issues like universal single payer health care, bringing the troops home now, reducing the military budget, dismantling weapons of mass destruction or taking significant steps right now to reduce global warming. I think Tennesseans deserve the opportunity to hear from all the candidates and then cast their vote once they have made the most informed decisions possible."