SAN FRANCISCO – Cindy Sheehan, an icon of America's anti-war movement, has qualified to challenge House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her seat in Congress.
Sheehan, 51, says Pelosi failed to persuade her party to end funding for the Iraq war after Democrats reclaimed the House majority in the 2006 midterm elections. She also accused the speaker of failing to hold the administration accountable for the administration's warrantless wiretapping program.
Sheehan, who lost her son in the war, is best known for beginning a vigil outside President George W. Bush's Texas ranch in August 2005.
"I feel like Nancy Pelosi, as the Democratic leader, has failed our country miserably, funding for more war," Sheehan said Monday. "The speaker's failed to hold George Bush and Dick Cheney accountable."
San Francisco election officials on Monday said Sheehan turned in 214 more valid signatures than the 10,198 she needed to qualify for the November ballot as an independent candidate for the 8th Congressional District seat.
The speaker welcomes the challenge, said Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill.
"The speaker has the highest respect for Cindy Sheehan. Ms. Sheehan lost her son in the Iraq war and has the right — as every American has — to run for office," Hammill said in a statement.
Pelosi, 67 and in her 11th term, has said she is disappointed that Democrats have not been able to stop the war in Iraq. Last year, the House passed legislation giving Bush $70 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan with no deadlines for troop withdrawal.
Pelosi won her 2006 campaign with 80 percent of the vote. Sheehan also will be at a distinct financial disadvantage as she takes on one of the most powerful politicians in the country.
She said her campaign has collected more than $300,000, compared with nearly $2.4 million collected by Pelosi through the end of June.
The other candidate on the ballot for the 8th district seat is Republican Dana Walsh.