Green Party of Colorado
|GREENS FACE -- AND WIN -- UPHILL BATTLES FOR A PRESIDENTIAL SLOT ON STATE BALLOTS|
GREENS FACE -- AND WIN -- UPHILL BATTLES FOR A PRESIDENTIAL SLOT ON STATE BALLOTS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DENVER, COLORADO -- As their first National Nominating Convention looms, Green Parties in many states are working hard and slowly winning slots for the Green presidential candidate. Convention delegates will choose the nominee on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver, Colorado. The convention is being organized by the Association of State Green Parties.
The candidates are Steve Gaskin, Jello Biafra, and Ralph Nader, who recently announced formally that his running mate is Ojibwe (American Indian) activist and environmentalist Winona LaDuke. Mr. Nader, the frontrunner, has toured 42 states since launching his campaign in February, and has his name on the ballot in at least 14 states, including the District of Columbia.
Fighting rigged rules
Greens and other "third parties" in many states have faced severely restrictive requirements for gaining a slot on state ballots. Democrats and Republicans in some state legislatures have often conspired to pass election rules, including inconveniently timed and short petitioning periods and, especially, huge numbers of required signatures, in an effort to prevent challenges from other parties’ candidates.
Greens have begun to surmount such obstacles, through their own hard work, through growing popular support, and through Mr. Nader’s popularity. Texas Greens collected 74,000 signatures to get on the ballot, about double the required 37,380 signatures from registered voters who did not vote in this year's Democratic or Republican primaries.
On May 15, Mr. Nader and the North Carolina Green Party filed a lawsuit against the North Carolina Board of Elections challenging the unconstitutional burdens of the state's ballot access laws, alleging that the state’s early deadline, large number (51,324) of required signatures, and misleading language on the petitions stack the deck against new and minor political parties. The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, which successfully represented Senator John McCain in his efforts to win ballot status in New York, is representing Mr. Nader and the other plaintiffs.
In Indiana, Mr. Nader helped kick off the petition drive in union-friendly Gary. They need 30,707 valid signatures by July 17 to earn a spot on the Indiana ballot. Maryland Greens have shifted into high gear, with 6,000 names collected so far against the required 10,000. The Maryland due date is August 7, but, as in most states, the petitions will be submitted early in case the signatures are challenged.
State Green Parties have also encountered petty obstructions. In an apparent instance of censorship, discrimination, and favoritism, the Green Party of Delaware, after submitting the application and fee, has been blocked from occupying a booth at the Delaware State Fair. Both Democratic and Republican Parties were granted booths. Delaware Greens are considering legal action.
Greens have been helped by Mr. Nader’s willingness to speak out on state and local issues at campaign stops, urging passage of a Maine ballot initiative requiring mandatory labeling for all genetically engineered food, and joining newspaper workers on strike in Detroit. In a CNN interview with Bernard Shaw on May 30, Mr. Nader said that he and the Greens "expect to be on 40 states by the end of June, and we’re going for all 50 by the end of summer."
Recent Zogby International polls have shown Nader attracting between 4% and 6% of the national vote, nearly double Pat Buchanan’s numbers, although Buchanan continues to draw more media attention. Nader’s presence thus adds drama to the contest between Al Gore and George W. Bush, whose polls put Bush at about 4% ahead of Gore. Mr. Nader's support is stronger on the West Coast, showing 9% in California and 7% in Oregon. And though only 4% of Ohio voters say they’d vote for Mr. Nader, a recent poll indicated he had the highest approval rating of all four candidates.
Greens continue to win support from traditionally Democrat strongholds. Green candidates have taken strong stands on issues on which Democrats, especially Al Gore, have consistently proven themselves lukewarm or even traitorous, such as guaranteed national health coverage and international "free trade" authority. Sierra Club board member Michael Dorsey has urged the group not to endorse Al Gore for president, citing the vice president’s "tawdry environmental record." In May, former Sierra Club member and veteran environmental activist David Brower resigned from the Club’s board of directors because of its support for Gore.
United Auto Workers President Steve Yokich surprised union leaders everywhere by insisting, on May 23, that "[i]t’s time to forget about party labels and instead focus on supporting candidates, such as Ralph Nader, who will take a stand based on what is right, not what big money dictates." Mr. Yokich echoed the dismay of many labor activists and rank and file over Gore’s support for the China Trade Bill and other international agreements which have hurt American workers. And in early June, Randall Robinson, human rights activist and leader of TransAfrica, which led the American movement to end apartheid in South Africa, signed on as co-chair of Nader's steering committee.
More information: http://www.greens.org/colorado/convention.html (Nancy Harvey, Convention Office Manager, 303-554-1575); http://www. greenparties.org (Association of State Green Parties, with links to state Green web sites)