LEWISTON – Peace activist Bill Slavick has made it official. He’s running for the U.S. Senate as an independent.
On Friday, Slavick submitted more than 4,700 signatures to the secretary of state, earning a place on this fall’s ballot. He is the second anti-war independent to qualify for a federal race in November. He joins Dexter Kamilewicz, who is running in Maine’s 1st Congressional District.
“I run not because I covet being a member of the U.S. Senate – I don’t – or because I think I am the best qualified person in Maine to serve. … but because, as a society, we have lost direction and our politicians, more often than not, have led us into the wilderness rather than out of it,” Slavick said in a statement released Tuesday.
Slavick will challenge incumbent Republican Olympia Snowe and the winner of the Democratic primary between Jean Hay Bright of Dixmont and Eric Mehnert of Orono.
Independent candidates must submit at least 4,000 verified signatures by Thursday to earn a spot on November’s ballot. The primary is June 13.
Slavick, 78, is the regional coordinator for Pax Christi Maine, a Catholic organization that advocates for peace. He’s also a member of Veterans for Peace. He made his announcement at the Portland Public Market.
Slavick said he’s become disenfranchised with both political parties, arguing that while Snowe portrays herself as a moderate, she votes with Republicans and that Democrats have relinquished their responsibilities.
“I’ve been (complaining) about the Democrats for years,” Slavick said. “You can’t let someone like Snowe have free reign for years and then put someone up against her and expect to win.”
In 2005, the Sun Journal published two guest columns by Slavick. The first was published in March and attacked U.S. policy in Haiti. The second was published in November and urged voters to reject a ballot question, which sought to overturn a new anti-discrimination law that added protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Slavick is a retired professor. He has taught at the University of Southern Maine, Notre Dame and Marquette, among others. In 1977, he was a Fulbright lecturer in Germany. He lives in Portland.
In handicapping his chances, Slavick said it would take a voter revolution of epic proportions to unseat Snowe, including the media taking a hard look at her record and her financial supporters jumping ship.
“Certainly, it’s an uphill battle,” Slavick said. “But anything can happen.”
By entering the race as an independent, Slavick said he can stay in the race all the way through November.
“The crisis is so immediate and so real,” Slavick said. “I think the issues are so important that you have to talk about them whether you win or not.”