Registering strong antiwar sentiments, at least 20,000 people apparently voted
for write-in Senate candidate Randall
Forsberg earlier this month to protest US Senator John F. Kerry's support
of war on Iraq.
''We wanted to tell Senator Kerry that people weren't happy that he appeared to change his message at the last minute,'' said Forsberg, who announced her candidacy two weeks before Election Day.
This week Forsberg released unofficial election results compiled by campaign volunteers that show she received 22,233 votes in 285 cities and towns across the state. Complete official results from Massachusetts' 351 communities will be made public by the secretary of state's office next week; that office has unofficially confirmed more than 16,000 write-in votes for Forsberg. Kerry received 1,596,974 votes, running without a major-party challenger.
In the months prior to the Senate's Oct. 11 vote authorizing the use of military force against Iraq, Kerry had been critical of President Bush, and some Washington observers believed he would vote against the resolution. But Kerry ended up voting for the measure, citing the imminent danger posed by President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and evidence that the dictator possesses weapons of mass destruction.
''It would be naive to the point of grave danger not to believe that, left to his own devices, Saddam Hussein will provoke, misjudge, or stumble into a future, more dangerous confrontation with the civilized world,'' Kerry said in a 45-minute address to the Senate. ''He has as much as promised it.''
Through a spokesman this week, Kerry said that he respects the concerns about his vote and hopes that his initial reticence helped ''force the Bush administration to go to the United Nations and proceed multilaterally,'' and that he will oppose the administration if they divert from a ''responsible course.''
Long known as a hotbed of political activism, Massachusetts may be experiencing a generational union of sorts, as liberal activists who grew up during the Vietnam War join forces with college students galvanized for the first time by their opposition to a war with Iraq.
''There is a youthful antiwar movement who have the hippie generation to wake up with,'' said Wellesley political science professor Marion Just. ''And they are alarmed at how quickly we appear headed to war.''
Secretary of State William Galvin said it's always tough for a write-in candidate to get widespread support because most voters want to get out of voting booths quickly and write-ins rarely have the money to promote themselves. With that in mind, Galvin said, Forsberg's vote total was ''significant,'' particularly in places such as Newton, where she received more than 1,000 votes.
Forsberg, a Long Island native who moved to Boston in 1974, is the executive director of the Institute for Defense and Disarmament Studies, a Cambridge-based think tank that researches ways to reduce the risk of war. She said she started off with a naive target of 100,000 votes but quickly learned it was unrealistic.
Her campaign got an unexpected boost two days before the election when she was invited to speak at an antiwar rally on Boston Common that drew thousands of protesters.
She said she entered the race just 15 days before Election Day because her
campaign was based solely upon Kerry's vote for the War Powers Resolution. Following
the resolution's passage, Forsberg alerted the secretary of state's office of
her intention to run and she and three volunteers immediately set up a Web
site. Web access and electronic communication were critical to the campaign,
she said, because with an estimated cost of $7,000 for the run, they provided
an inexpensive means to contact grass-roots activists.
Though she was pleased with the recent United Nations resolution that represents a multilateral demand for Iraqi disarmament, Forsberg reiterated that support for her candidacy demonstrates the reluctance people feel about the looming conflict.
''There is still the possibility that the United States will launch a unilateral attack,'' she said. ''And our message is clear: We believe that would be very bad for our national security.''
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