AUGUSTA – With a son serving in Iraq and a passionate anti-war message, independent Dexter Kamilewicz introduced his campaign Thursday to the body politic of state.
Along with about two dozen supporters, Kamilewicz unveiled a platform heavy on liberal issues but focused most strongly on his opposition to the war in Iraq and the Democratic and Republican politicians he says have enabled it.
“Republicans and Democrats have failed to connect the Iraq disaster to the unmet critical needs of America,” Kamilewicz said. “Despite the enormous and growing human and financial costs of warfare in Iraq, Congress does not raise questions. … Democrats and Republicans, including Maine’s congressional delegation, have been paralyzed by politics as usual. There is no leadership, no discussion and no plan to address the pressing problems facing America today.”
Kamilewicz is challenging Democratic incumbent Rep. Tom Allen, who is seeking his sixth term. State Rep. Darlene Curley, Scarborough, is in the race for the Republicans.
Kamilewicz, a commercial real estate manager who lives on Orr Island, faces a number of challenges to his election hopes.
His name is hard to pronounce, try kam-e-LEH-vitch.
He’s running against two better-known politicians, who will likely have a substantial fundraising advantage, and he’s doing it without the support of an established political party and its election apparatus.
And his central issue tears at the seams of politics, dividing Democrats and Republicans alike.
But Kamilewicz names Vermont Rep. Bernie Sanders, the only independent currently serving in the U.S. House of Representatives, as a model for how an independent can be elected and hold his own in the two-party system. Sanders, who even calls himself a socialist, is able to be successful and influence national policies, Kamilewicz said. He also said that he believes many of the state’s Green Independents will rally to his campaign.
“Congress is guilty of gross neglect of its duty to protect the nation and its citizens,” Kamilewicz said. “It is time to reject the false claims that only Democrats and Republicans have an exclusive right to the votes of American citizens.”
Kamilewicz’s determined anti-war stance is educated by the service of his son, Ben, who is in the 10th month of a deployment in Iraq and is currently stationed in Ramadi.
“He’s shot at every day and mortared every night,” Kamilewicz said. “He’s a world-class athlete and he’s tired; they’re all tired.”
His son is should be home in July, “God willing,” Kamilewicz said.
Although Allen has been a critic of the war, Kamilewicz said he hasn’t done enough to bring it to an end.
“Congressman Tom Allen says he is against the war in Iraq, so why does he vote to pay for it? Tom Allen has voted to fund the war four times, every time it has been put to a vote,” Kamilewicz said.
Allen was first elected to Congress in 1996, when he defeated Republican incumbent James Longley. In 2004, he defeated Republican Charlie Summers with 60 percent of the vote.