Cindy Sheehan’s independent antiwar campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi is beginning to gain steam in San Francisco. I recently caught up with Cindy to discuss her bid for Congress as well as the Democrat’s perpetual incompetence. – JF
Joshua Frank: Cindy, you recently obtained ballot access in your campaign against Rep. Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco. It was a hard fought battle from what I heard. Can you talk about the whole process a little bit, and what you're campaign had to overcome in order to get on the ballot in November's election?
Cindy Sheehan: Well, Josh, as you know, last May I renounced my membership in the Democratic Party in response to yet another multi-billion dollar Iraq/Afghanistan war funding bill that Pelosi's Congress handed to George W. Bush.
In July of 2007, I decided to run against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco’s 8th District if she did not reverse her treasonous position of the Constitutional remedy of impeachment being "off the table." As I didn't belong to any political party at that point, I weighed my options and decided to re-register as "Decline to State." Although I resonate with many parts of third party platforms, I thought to retain my independent integrity I would make my bid unaffiliated with any party.
We found out early this year that the requirements for obtaining ballot status as a non-partisan in California are the 4th most rigorous in the nation. If one belongs to a party it is far easier to obtain ballot status. I was required to get signatures from 3% of the people in the 8th District who voted in November 2006. That came to an unbelievable number of 10,198.
When we first contacted the DOE (Department of Elections) to pull the first petitions. In lieu of filing fee -- which I had to obtain 3000 signatures and pay a fee for 400 signatures, the staff there told us that we could register people and write the form number next to that person's signature on the petition after they signed. Well into the process, we had registered hundreds of new voters and we were told that the DOE would not accept signatures of new voters unless the office had the time to "process" those forms. The first time we turned in our "Nomination" papers, the DOE invalidated 44%, saying that over half of those people weren't "registered."
Ten days in advance of the August 8 deadline for the signatures, we needed to turn in 7,694 (out of the original 10,198) more signatures and we turned in 10,856. Our campaign volunteers and staff rejoiced because we were sure that we had made it with those signatures. However, we got "Supplemental" to the nomination papers and continued to collect signatures "just in case." Well, it was a good thing that we did, because the DOE invalidated almost 5,000 of those signatures and we were lacking just under 1,700.
We discovered this information the four days before the papers were due from a phone call from the DOE. We were shocked, but we mobilized dozens of people to collect signatures.
In the end, we figure that we collected right around 20,000 signatures, and on afternoon of August 8 we received a phone call from the DOE that turned out to be good news: We had qualified!
I became only the sixth non-partisan candidate in California history to qualify for ballot status, and the first Congressional Candidate since 1996! The signature process was very labor intensive, and time consuming, but we were able to obtain about 20,000 votes and dozens of energized volunteers that will be with us until November 4th, when we celebrate victory.
I am sure there will many more obstacle thrown in the path of our campaign, but we are experts at overcoming obstacles and fearless in the face of adversity.
Frank: Some may laugh when you say, "celebrate victory". Do you really think you can beat Nancy Pelosi? Also, do you believe it is more effective to challenge the Democrat's position outside of the party, instead of inside, like the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) are trying to do?
Sheehan: Well, I always say that there's not enough laughter in the world today ... but seriously, we have a society where "winning" is the only acceptable outcome of any event: from sports, to American Idol to politics. I believe that every day our campaign office is open and functioning and attracting more volunteers and positive energy is a victory. I go to sleep every night convinced of this fact and wake up every morning ready to get back to the important work of confronting what Nancy Pelosi represents to many people: corporate militarism and a fascist police state.
Besides the daily victories, and the major victory of just getting on the ballot as a non-partisan candidate, I do think that this election is winnable. There is excitement from all over the world, really, for this race. We have a comfortable amount of money right now that we are planning to use to wage a fierce-issues based campaign. I can't really believe that the people of the 8th District would vote for Pelosi when they find out that she knew about torture and sanctioned the inhumane practice as well as her other failures for the people (but victories for the war machine).
I tried working the whole inside/outside strategy of the PDA, and was, in fact, on its national board until they refused to endorse me in my race against Pelosi. I believe that the only way we are going to save our representative republic and restore some kind of peace and economic equality is to challenge the two party duopoly that only suppresses these attributes.
Frank: Progressive Democrats of America did not endorse your candidacy? Did they give you a reason as to why? What has your support been like among Democrats in general this year?