The alt-candidates

By STEVEN STYCOS  |  October 29, 2008

Bibeault, a Rhode Island Hospital pharmacist, is running for state Senate as Republican against incumbent Democrat John Tassoni. Another party member, Mike Rollins, a member of the Republican State Central Committee, is running as a Republican against state Representative Gregory Schadone (D-North Providence). Running on the Libertarian line, Bibeault explains, splits the anti-Democrat vote and helps the Democrats win. The Rhode Island party has 300 to 400 members, he says.

Gloria La Riva of the Party For Socialism And Liberation (
As the standard-bearer for the newest and most radical of the third parties, California anti-war and union activist La Riva is on the ballot in 12 states. In the short term, the party calls for US withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, eliminating insurance companies, offering free health care for all, immediate citizenship for illegal immigrants, and independence for Puerto Rico. In the long term, the party wants a socialist revolution. Party activist Jennifer Zaldana of Boston says the revolution may be violent, “but we would do our very best to have it be everything but.” The Central Falls native says the Cuban government is the closest model to what the party seeks in the US. She minimizes free speech concerns in the Communist nation, saying some are untrue and others caused by the US blockade. The party has no local candidates and no local chapter, but it is part of the ANSWER coalition which organized several Providence anti-war demonstrations.

Ralph Nader
Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party (
McKinney’s six terms in Congress were marked by a liberal voting record, activism on African human-rights issues, and a string of controversial statements. For example, she said that President Bush “may” have had prior knowledge of 9/11, but did not act to help the defense industry stocks of his father’s associates.

McKinney is on the ballot in 30 states. The Green platform calls for stronger anti-trust enforcement, an end to permanent veto seats on the United Nations Security Council, a moratorium on highway widening, health care for all, free media for all candidates, and statehood for the District of Columbia. Unlike Obama, says McKinney’s Rhode Island campaign chair, Greg Gerritt of Providence, the Green Party candidate wants to withdraw US troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and opposes drilling on the continental shelf and ethanol production.

Gerritt readily admits that he is in “99 percent agreement” with Independent Party candidate Ralph Nader, but criticizes the consumer advocate, because “he’s not trying to build a movement for long-term change.” The Greens are not running any candidates for local offices, says Gerritt, who ran in 2002 for mayor of Providence. The last general election was frustrating for the Greens. Its sole Rhode Island office holder, Providence City Councilman David Segal, switched to the Democratic Party to win a seat in the state legislature. Then Jeff Toste, its candidate for a Providence state Senate seat, won a respectable 30 percent of the vote, but still lost to Democrat Paul Jabour. The party has about 25 active members in Rhode Island, Gerritt says.

Ralph Nader of the Independent Party (
Nader, who famously ran as the Green Party’s presidential candidate in 2000, is on the ballot in 45 states. He favors impeachment of President Bush, a $50-per-ton tax on carbon dioxide emissions, repeal of the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act, a single-payer universal health plan, and cuts in the defense budget. He also emphasizes energy conservation and opposes promotion of ethanol, because it diverts corn from the food supply.

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