The Green Party Presidential Nomination - Candidates and Controversies
In case you haven’t noticed, there are several declared candidates (David Cobb, Kent Mesplay and Lorna Salzman) vying for the Presidential nomination of the Green Party of the United States (as well as at least one other prominent Green Party member who folks are attempting to draft: Peter Camejo). Candidate forums and debates are being organized across the country in response (a list of resources that might help you find such an event is provided at the end of this article).
In light of this, I thought it topical to attempt an overview of who these folks are and where they are coming from. But, first, a brief update on three related topics: Ralph Nader, the “safe states” and “no candidate” options, and the “favorite son/daughter” candidacies of Peter Camejo in California and Carol Miller in New Mexico.
Note: to avoid excessive self-promotion, I've generally pointed to items listed in my blog only if I could not find copies of them elsewhere. That still leaves a lot of links to stuff in my personal weblog, as it appears that my colleagues in the Green Party haven't quite collectively caught on to this whole blogging thing being an effective complement to publicizing things via email distribution lists. :/
If you're not yet aware of this, Ralph Nader has decided NOT to campaign for the presidential nomination of the Green Party of the United States and is instead considering an independent campaign for the presidency. That doesn't mean that he won't wind up being the Green Party's nominee however: Nader is still "The Big Kahuna" of Green Party politics, and he did leave the door open to a Green Party candidacy by indicating that he would accept a "draft" nomination. In response, many folks within the Green Party are organizing to "Draft Nader in 2004".
Favorite Sons and Daughters
Peter Camejo and Carol Miller are running "favorite son/daughter" candidacies in their home state's Green Party primaries, attempting to secure enough delegates to impact the decisions made at the national convention in Milwaukee this June. They have a lot of name recognition from previous statewide campaigns and other activities in their respective states, so the conventional wisdom is that they'll garner quite a few votes (especially with Nader's absence from the ballot). Both efforts are aimed at ensuring that the Green Party runs "all out" in 2004 (more on Peter Camejo later), and are partially in response to the efforts outlined in point 2, below.
What is a "Safe State"? Is "No Candidate" an option?
The "safe states" and "no candidate" movements: one of the things that is said to have caused Ralph Nader to decide against seeking the nomination for the Green Party candidacy is the lack of consensus within the Green Party over what strategy to take in respect to the 2004 Presidential campaign.
David Cobb, who presently serves as the Green Party's national counsel (lawyer), and who helped organize the Texas Green Party (before recently relocating to California), has been the leading advocate for a "safe states" strategy: the idea being that the Green Party should target it's efforts towards those states which past history and polls indicate are not up for grabs in November (California, for example, would be one such state, conventional wisdom being that the state is solidly in the Democratic column), in order to avoid any blame (real or imagined) for contributing to the defeat of the Democratic Party nominee and the re-election of George Bush. Substantial sentiment, perhaps even approaching a majority (at least of the activists) exists within the Green Party for at least some variant of this strategy (as the Green Pages article referenced at the end of this column mentions), based on both a real desire to see that Bush is not re-elected, and a fear that an all out campaign will alienate more people than it attracts.
In that vein, a significant minority of Greens have come out against nominating anyone, arguing that a "safe states" campaign is impractical and confusing, and that any campaign at all would be counter-productive. The "Anybody But Bush Again" (ABBA) folks take the position that given the extraodinarily dangerous nature of the Bush presidency Greens should focus their efforts on defeating Bush at all costs; others argue that a national campaign is a distraction from efforts at the state and local level, where victory is possible (and happening more and more frequently); and still others argue that we're better off running no candidate at all, than one who has the potential to do far worse than Nader in 2000 (given the lack of national name recognition held by those candidates who've declared to date) and potentially damage the credibility of any future Presidential campaign.
It should be mentioned that David Cobb has committed to following whatever strategy the party, as a whole, eventually decides upon - even if it is not a "safe states" strategy.
The Candidates Themselves
Now, to the meat of the article: who is running for the nomination of the Green Party? To my knowledge, there are three active and declared candidates for the Presidential nomination of the Green Party of the United States. The information below is lifted from an email I posted to my weblog a while ago... unfortunately, I didn't note the source, although the article credits Rudy Perkins of Massachusetts "for his work in compiling this information". These individuals are taking distinctly different approaches, both in terms of policy focus, and personal style, to their campaigns; their websites make this evident as well. David Cobb's looks fairly conventional, Kent Mesplay's is more personal and less sophisticated, Lorna Salzman's is actually a sub-section of her personal website that contains extensive excerpts from her writings (mostly on environment related topics).
State party affiliation: previously TEXAS (recently relocated to CALIFORNIA)
(biography provided by the candidate)
David Cobb serves as the General Counsel for the Green Party of the United States (GP-US) and helped to found the Green Party of Texas (GPTX) in 1999. He was the GPTX candidate for Attorney General in 2002 and is seeking the Green Party nomination for President in 2004. David had a successful law practice until early 2000, when Ralph Nader asked him to manage the Green Party effort in Texas. He coordinated the ballot access drive in Texas, helping to collect over 76,000 signatures in 75 days! When he ran for Attorney General in 2002 there were only 4 local chapters of the GPTX. At the conclusion of David’s campaign, there were 26 chapters. David proposes that the Green Party run a presidential campaign in 2004 that is dedicated to helping to build the state parties. He serves on the Steering Committee of Democracy Unlimited of Humboldt County (www.monitor.net/duhc) and as Campaigns Director for Reclaim Democracy.org which are both citizen’s groups dedicated to contesting and challenging the illegitimate corporate usurpation of our Constitution and our government.
David lectures and facilitates “Rethinking Corporations/Rethinking Democracy” seminars and workshops across the country, which explore the social, legal and historical context of how corporations have become the dominant institution of our times. These seminars focus on how corporations have become unelected governing institutions, and how we can provoke (and win) a nonviolent democratic revolution in response.
State party affiliation: CALIFORNIA
(biography excerpted from one provided by candidate)
Kent Mesplay, 41, is the fourth-generation descendant of a Blackfoot/Irish couple. A natural-born U.S. citizen he grew up among indigenous people in the eastern highlands of Papua New Guinea, speaking one language and culture outside the house and another inside. He was home-schooled during his first eight years of life and then attended boarding school for two years before returning with his family to his father’s home state of Colorado. Kent values education, having earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering (biomechanics; prosthetic science) from Northwestern University.
A long-time California resident (since 1977), Kent first became active with the Greens in 1995, serving as appointed Treasurer to the San Diego Green Party County Council and, as co-chair of their Communications Committee, he put on a press conference for Ralph Nader at the Hotel del Coronado. Kent helped place Ralph Nader on the California ballot, voting his support at a Green Party State Meeting in Berkeley in 1996. Currently, he works as an Air Quality Inspector with the San Diego Air Pollution Control District, acting to enforce and ensure business compliance with Federal, State and Local air quality standards in a manner tailored to balance economic and environmental concerns.
State party affiliation: NEW YORK (member, state committee until November)
(excerpted from biography provided by candidate)
A graduate of Cornell University, Lorna Salzman has been an environmental activist, writer, lecturer and organizer since the mid-1960s. She was hired by the late David Brower, founder and president of Friends of the Earth (FOE), as the regional representative of FOE and held that position for nearly ten years, concentrating on anti-nuclear work and on coastal zone and wetlands protection on eastern Long Island. In the mid-1980s she was an editor at American Birds magazine, published by the National Audubon Society, and soon after became Executive Director of Food & Water Inc., an anti-food irradiation group. From 1992 to 1995 she was a natural resources specialist in the Natural Resources Unit of the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection.
In 1985 she co-founded the New York Greens, later called the NY Green Party, and in the late 1990s she ran for Congress and the US Senate on the Peconic Greens and Green Choice parties respectively. In 2002, she was the Green Party candidate for the US House of Representatives in the 1st CD, Suffolk County, Long Island NY. She is a member of the State Committee of the Green Party of New York State.
Her top priorities are: carbon taxes to start reducing fossil fuel consumption; universal single payer health care funded through the income tax; ending corporate subsidies and tax breaks; moving to full cost pricing of all goods; abolishing NAFTA and WTO and drastically reforming IMF and World Bank; reviving a nationalized rail and freight system; promoting maximum biodiversity; shutting down nuclear power plants; protecting women’s rights globally; redefining national security as security in energy, transportation and public health.
She is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, and in 2000 she received the international Earth Day Award from the Earth Society Foundation for her committed environmental work.
Other candidacies (potential and otherwise)
In addition, Paul Glover also declared an interest in seeking the nomination at one point; I'm not listing him as an active candidate as I haven't seen any recent indications that he's actively pursuing the nomination. There was also a strong movement to draft former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, which she only recently put to rest by formally declaring that she was not interested.
Speaking of drafts... the wide open state of the Green Party Presidential nomination has prompted a number of folks to being organizing a campaign to draft Peter Miguel Camejo, the Green Party of California's 2002 (and 2003) candidate for Governor. This movement has been fueled by a letter recently released by Camejo authorizing the Green Party of the United States to place his name "before nominating conventions or primaries where possible as a candidate for president". As you'll see from the text of the letter, Camejo says this is only to allow such delegates as he gathers the "freedom to vote according to their best judgment", but a lot of folks are hoping for more, based on his strong performance in the various Gubernatorial debates during California's recent recall election.
Finally, as mentioned above, there is an active "Draft Nader in 2004" campaign. Other such campaigns may emerge in the near future (watch this space for updates).
Resources on Ralph Nader's decision to not seek the Green Party Presidential Nomination:
Letter from Nader to the Green Party/Response from the Green Party's National Steering Committee
Green Party Press Release:
Other Nader in 2004 resources:
Nader Exploration Committee web site:
Draft Nader in 2004 web site:
Draft Nader in 2004 Yahoo Group:
Carol Miller "favorite daughter" resources:
Carol Miller Seeking Favorite Daughter Status in Green Party of New Mexico Presidential Primary
Camejo related resources:
Draft Camejo web site:
Draft Camejo Yahoo Group:
Camejo's Gubernatorial Campaign web site:
Text of Letter authorizing his name to be put before conventions and on primary ballots:
"Safe States" resources (this is just a sampling, quite a bit of material on the subject is out there):
Green Party “Safe States” Strategy
by Ted Glick, Independent Progressive Politics Network
(this has been widely republished)
In Defense of a "Safe States" Strategy
by Gabe Ignetti
August 2, 2003
Presidential process still wide open
What actually happened at the national conference in Washington, D.C.
by Stacy Malkan, D.C. Statehood Green Party
GreenPages, Vol 7, No.3
"No candidate" resources (these are harder to find):
Greens for Grassroots Party Building
"All out campaign resources" (this is only a sampling, quite a bit has been published or circulated in this vein):
RESOLUTION FOR A GREEN PARTY RUN IN ALL STATES
The Avocado Declaration
Petition in support of The Avocado Declaration
LET THE GREEN GRASSROOTS REBELLION BEGIN by Carl Mayer
General information on the debate within the Green Party over the presidential nomination can be found on my personal weblog, at http://www.thomasleavitt.org/personal/blog/ - click on the "Green Party" listing under "Categories" in the right hand column, where I've been filing copies of various items of note for a while (do a search for the Carol Miller statement, for example, on Google, and my copy of it comes up just after the URL listed above, in the number two position - same thing for the statement below, which amusingly enough was sourced from my weblog).
A couple of other items specifically of note, related to this subject:
Statement on Green Strategy 2004 and Call for Dialogue and Action
“Strategic Voting” Is Strategic Suicide
by Howie Hawkins, Syracuse Greens
Posted by at January 26, 2004 6:05 AM