Freilich to keep options open on independent run

Friday May 7, 2010

BENNINGTON -- U.S. Senate candidate Daniel Freilich says he will file paperwork to be on the ballot as an independent candidate if he loses the August Democratic primary to Sen. Patrick Leahy.

Freilich, a physician and naval officer, announced his candidacy last year and will be listed on the ballot in the Aug. 24 Democratic primary. But Freilich said he will also collect signatures and file the needed paperwork to appear on the general election ballot as an independent. That paperwork must be filed before the August primary, he said.

If Freilich were to win the Democratic primary, he would have to choose to appear on the general election ballot as either a Democrat or independent, but not both.

"If I don’t win, I guess I’ll make a decision. At least this way I’ll have the option," he said.

Leahy is one of the most senior members of Congress and enjoys widespread support in the polls. Defeating the state’s senior senator is considered by many observers a monumental task.

Freilich said his decision to also file as an independent candidate was not a matter of political expediency.

"I struggled with that issue, and I frankly say that. I’m not a strategizing type, and I don’t even like that concept. But, I do feel much stronger than that, that somebody has to fight for what I’m fighting for," he said. "If you don’t get into office you just can’t affect public policy."

Freilich said he chose to run as a Democrat because he feels some connection to the party, but he is also at odds with its direction.

"From my point of view, I do believe that the Democratic Party, what it claims to be, I very much believe in. What it is in reality, I think has a lot of hypocrisy, and that is what makes me consider being an independent."

Freilich said he sees himself as a "progressive Democrat" on domestic issues, but slightly "right-of-center" on foreign policy. Many independents and Republicans support him, he said, because of those positions.

"I don’t know how much will change because I already have a step into the door with Republicans and independents," he said about a potential independent candidacy after the primary.


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