Potential Green Party Presidential Candidates

I’m just going to mention the most prominent likely/declared candidates. I’ll update the discussion, or create a page dedicated to the topic later on as more web resources become available.

Cynthia McKinney, a former US Representative from Georgia is in the process of leaving the Democratic Party and will probably run for President as a Green in 2008. Recently, some Brooklyn Greens held a meet-up for her and she attended a Green strategy retreat in California. Its not completely clear that she has endorsed the recruitment drive, but she’s interesting because he already held elective office, and has some name recognition nationally. She has some negatives for being a strong, independent woman of color who doesn’t take any crap. The Daily Kos brand of kool-aide drinking Democrat appears to dislike her intensely. You may recall her for getting in a fracas with a Capitol security guard last year. The guard didn’t recognize her and tried to arrest her for skipping the security barrier. She’s been calling for Bush’s impeachment from the day he was elected and has been reviled by Republicans and establishment Democrats alike for being too critical of Israel, too upfront on race and too outspoken in general.

Rebecca Rotzler is a national Green Party co-chair and deputy-mayor the Village of New Paltz, New York. Until recently, New Paltz was one of two New York municipalities with a Green Mayor. The Greens still have a strong center in New Paltz, and Rotzler’s supporters have created a blog page (here) encouraging her to run. Mayor Jason West which was one of the party’s more high profile successes before Gayle McLaughlin was elected Mayor of Richmond, California in November 2006.

kat swift (all lower case) is an announced candidate and vice chair of the Green Party of Texas. swift came 2nd of 3 in a May 12, 2007 race for San Antonio City Council and has a very preliminary presidential website.

Elaine Brown as formally announced that she will seek the Green nomination in 2008. Once a leading Black Panther, is currently an activist and author, living in GA, Brown was a Green candidate for mayor of Brunswick, Georgia in 2005. She was, however prohibited from appearing on the ballot. Brown is an unknown factor. Her Brunswick campaign got national press, but she has never held elective office before. The BPP made some serious political missteps in transitioning from a national revolutionary organization to a local Oakland, CA political party. As I find more sources for Brown’s political history, I’ll post them here.

Discussion I’ve observed around McKinney and Brown indicate that are supported by those in the GP that would run an all-out 50 state campaign. This would be opposed by the Greens that succeeded in rejecting Nader back in 2004 and ran a token campaign featuring some guy you never heard of.

Pat LaMarche is a leader in the Maine Greens, the only party that has sent someone to the state legislature, and the state party with the highest percent of registered party members (2.36% of all registered voters). She’s the most likely candidate from the wing of GP that advocates preferential voting for Democrats. LaMarche was the VP candidate in 2004, running alongside Texas lawyer David Cobb. The selection of Cobb and LaMarche was a victory for GP activists most shaken by the 2000 Florida controversy. Without bolting the party, the 2004 ticket advocated a safe states strategy.

Ralph Nader is making noises about running as an independent, seeking support from the Greens. In 2004, many state Green parties were split on the issue of re-running Nader, with a critical mass of activists splitting off to support his independent campaign. This time around, with 2000 receding and the Republican field fairly week, there will be more pressure within the party to run a unified campaign. This will be particularly true if the nominee is Brown or McKinney, who would run aggressively and would appeal to voters outside the middle-class white GP base. A split is possible if La Marche is nominated, since hard feelings remain over the process by which the Cobb-LaMarche ticket was selected in 2004 and its subsequent lackluster campaign (receiving 119,000 votes, 1/3 of which came from California).

California’s three time Green candidate for Governor, Peter Camejo has written a lengthy peice on efforts by fusionists in the Los Angeles Greens to overide the impetus for independent campaigns coming from the party grassroots. Camejo calls out long time Green activist and past Santa Monica Mayor Michael Feinstein for hijacking the party’s LA County Council elections last year in order to thwart the election of an enlarged, anti-Democrat council. The political context of the disputed election is a disagreement about how the nations’ largest, and arguably most successful state Green party should proceed. Camejo represents an independent politics, less willing to compromise with or curry favors from the progressive Democrats. Feinstein has been a local elected official for sometime and is enthusiastic about fusing with Democrats. The two have debated this before. Feinstein was at the center of a long-running misappropriations scandal beginning in 2003. He allegedly misappropriated a donation of $10,000. Subsequently, Feinstein refused to open the books to party members to account for the amount. The matter was never prosecuted, and the rival who pressed the party to resolve the issue against Feinstein subsequently left himself. An enlarged party council could have raised these questions once again and possibly embarased Feinstein further, but Camejo’s objections are political and procedural: Feinstein reconvened the old board after the new board had been elected to decide that it (the old board) would continue to select statewide board members. There is nothing online, yet, from Feinstein or another current member of the board, but you can bet that they will dispute the legitimacy of the election they acted to nullify.

My sympathies are with Camejo. The two-party system has been responsible for destrictively limiting political debate for since the People’s Party fused itself to death in 1896. Getting rid of this two-party straightjacket is the very least we can do.

Those who would keep a party in name, but drive most of the activists out should bear in mind the example of the Socialist Party of America, which split after the Left-Wing faction won party election victories in 1919 and the Right-Wing faction expelled most of the membership before a transition to the new majority could take place. Consider also the more recent example of Tommy Sheridan and the Scottish Socialist Party. Sheridan is a charismatic and well known activist in Glasgow, his personality largely floated the SSP into 7 Scottish Assembly seats. Last year the party split, expelling Sheridan over a personal scandal, and a new party with the same program and telegenic figurehead, arose in direct competition to the old. Sheridan’s appeal and the SSP track record were not enough to carry both parties back into Holyrood. The Scots are left without Left representation and it will take a generation to undo the hard feelings and political damage.

Feinstein is no Sheridan, who is by some accounts the best known politician in Scotland. Feinstein did good work in the past working to build the national party through the Nader campaigns of 1996 and 2000. The desire to fuse with Democrats shows the scars of the latter effort, and the fear this causes is enouoght to cause him to flaunt the will of the most active Greens in L.A. Instead he ought to submit himself to the will of the purely figmentary party whip and live as though he was in the early days of a better age, and not the prelude to Democratic ward leader’s career.

Barring procedureal victories won by the right wing, the nomination fight will probably be between LaMarche and Nader or McKinney. I think it’s McKinney in a walk, if she wants it.

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Posted on May 5, 2007, in Politics. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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