Four Greens fight for their party’s nomination

Alternative Politics
By TIM LEHNERT  |  April 2, 2008
Supporters of Cynthia McKinney, an African-American who served 12 years in Congress as a Georgia Democrat, say that choosing a presidential nominee doesn’t have to mean selecting between a black and a female candidate.
McKinney is one of four people seeking the Green Party presidential nomination. The others are Kent Mesplay, a San Diego air quality inspector; West Virginian Jesse Johnson (who has been endorsed by former senator and Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel); and Texan Kat Swift. McKinney appears to be the frontrunner; the contest will be decided at the Green Party’s national convention in Chicago in July.
Noticeably absent from the Green slate is Ralph Nader, who is running as an independent, even though he won the Califor¬nia primary as a Green (the Greens were able to run candidates in four state primaries).
Nader ran as a Green in 1996 and 2000, and is perhaps as controversial a figure within the Green Party as outside it. Some feel that the party would be best served by new leadership, while other Greens have defected to the Nader camp or are urging that the Greens draft Nader to run on their behalf.
For his part, Nader says he stresses many of the same issues as the Greens. Of key interest to Nader, and to independent and small party candidates in general, is gaining ballot access, so that voters can actually choose non-major party candidates when it counts.
Locally, the Green Party of Rhode Island will meet on Saturday, April 5 at 2 pm at the William Hall Library, 1825 Broad St., Cranston, to choose delegates for the Chicago convention. Rhode Island Greens will send at least four delegates, and possibly as many as eight, to the national meeting. “The state convention,” says Greg Gerritt, secretary of the local party, “is where people have an opportunity to caucus and really vote with their feet.” Prospective Rhode Island delegates will indicate their support for a given presidential candidate, and state meeting attendees will literally line up behind them. Delegate votes for July’s national convention will then be allocated proportionally.
The Greens have no illusions about their hopes for capturing the presidency in 2008. “All we can do,” says Gerritt “is run good campaigns.”
Gerritt sees a chasm between the Greens and the major parties on the issues of defense spending and the environment. “It’s time to not only stop the war,” he says, “but also the war machine.” Gerritt says that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans appreciate the scope of the climate crisis, and that neither party is willing to tackle environmental problems in a comprehensive way.
Come November, the Greens may end up splitting those voters to the left of the Democrats with Nader. Fertile ground for both Nader and the Greens could be disaffected Obama supporters, should Hilary Clinton capture the Democratic nomination. “If Clinton gets the nomination,” says Gerritt, “we may pick up some people. We’re not going to pick up Hilary’s people.”
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  Topics: This Just In , Barack Obama, Elections and Voting, Politics,  More more >
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