[Marxism] CALIFORNIA Greens hope anger over war opens doors
walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Oct 28 12:35:18 MDT 2006
Greens hope anger over war opens doors
Party urges voters to use ballot to send 'powerful message'
-John Wildermuth, Chronicle Political Writer
Saturday, October 28, 2006
For California's Green Party, the new radio ad for their candidate
for governor, Peter Camejo, says it all.
"The polls show that the race for governor is over," Camejo says in
the 30-second commercial. "A vote for the Democrat will send no
message, but a vote for the Green Party, which opposes war, the
Patriot Act ... would be a powerful message to vote for peace.''
Up and down the Green Party ticket, candidates are scrambling to use
Californians' growing disaffection with the war in Iraq to draw
progressive Democrats and independent liberals to their party in
"I'm running for Congress to impeach the president,'' said Krissy
Keefer, who's challenging Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi for her San
Francisco congressional seat. "People are very, very unhappy with
(Pelosi's) leadership in this town."
Todd Chretien, the Green candidate for U.S. Senate, wants to
immediately pull U.S. troops out of Iraq and argues that a vote for
him instead of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein would "send a shot
across the bows of the Democratic Party'' and let them know how
serious the anti-war effort is.
But the ad also shows that in the governor's race, like all state and
national Green Party campaigns, the emphasis continues to be more
about fighting the good ideological fight than actually winning an
"We could draw between 40 percent and 60 percent of the Democrats who
agree more with us that they do with Phil Angelides," the Democratic
candidate for governor, Camejo said. "But we're not in a position to
win, so we don't get that support.''
Despite the anti-war feeling in the state, it has been tougher than
ever for the Greens to get their message out, said Camejo, who ran
for governor in 2002 and in the 2003 recall election.
In 2003, when Camejo turned in a strong performance in a televised
debate with Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger and three other rivals
in the recall, "the attention poured in,'' the 66-year-old Folsom
resident said. But this year, "our voice cannot be heard,''
especially after Camejo was not allowed to join Schwarzenegger and
Angelides in the lone governor's debate.
Camejo's disappointment isn't unusual for the Green Party. In its 24
years on the California ballot, the party's only win in a partisan
election came in 1999, when Audie Bock shocked Democrat Elihu Harris
to win the special election for an Oakland Assembly seat.
The joy was short lived, though. Within months, Bock left the Green
Party to run for re-election as an independent, lost to Democrat
Wilma Chan in 2000, and reregistered as a Democrat.
The party has had more success at the local level. San Francisco
Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi is the highest ranking of the 62 Green
Party members holding office in California, and there are party
members on city councils in Sonoma, Fairfax, Moraga, Martinez, Napa,
Richmond, Berkeley and Sebastopol.
But in state races, the party can do little more than talk about good
efforts. In June, for example, Sarah Knopp, a Los Angeles high school
teacher and Green Party member, finished second in the nonpartisan
race for superintendent of public instruction, pulling a record
695,000 votes for the party. But because incumbent Jack O'Connell, a
Democrat, took 52 percent of the vote, he won re-election without a
November runoff with Knopp.
With 140,085 registered voters, the Greens represent less than 1
percent of the California electorate. They have fewer than half the
members of the American Independent Party, which was formed as part
of former Alabama Gov. George Wallace's run for president in 1968,
although more than the Libertarian, Natural Law and Peace and Freedom
parties, which also are qualified for the state ballot.
Camejo ran ahead of the party registration with 5.3 percent of the
vote in 2002 and 2.8 percent in 2003. In the 2002 governor's race, he
pulled more votes than Republican Bill Simon in San Francisco,
Oakland, Berkeley, Fairfax, Santa Cruz and Sebastopol.
"Progressives have to feel it's safe to vote for a Green candidate,"
Camejo said. "If the Green vote went to 10 percent, it would shock
That's why Camejo's ad, which will also show up in a 15-second TV
version, is aimed at convincing Democrats and other liberal voters
that they can back a Green candidate for governor without changing
the final outcome.
Camejo's support might not make a dent in the governor's race, which
has two well-known candidates, but Green candidate Chretien could
make some ripples in the Senate race, in which Feinstein is expected
to romp to victory over former GOP state Sen. Dick Mountjoy of
Monrovia (Los Angeles County), who has little visibility and less
money. But the former San Francisco mayor's original votes for the
war in Iraq and the Patriot Act, along with her support of the death
penalty, have some progressive voters looking for an alternative on
Cres Vellucci, a Green Party spokesman, described Camejo's TV and
radio buy as "below modest," but he argued that the visibility
provided by the ads and others being run in state and legislative
races is important to the party.
"It says that our candidates are running serious campaigns and that
they're in it to win," he said. "Chances are they're not going to,
but they act that way."
Camejo described the process as "planting seeds: You're trying to
reach young people, create momentum, and get local people elected."
The Green Party hopes those efforts can reach the people who are
looking for an alternative to the Democrats and Republicans, said
Forrest Hill, the Greens' candidate for secretary of state.
"With many groups I talk to, they're not ready to vote Green," he
said. "But when you say that we need a viable third party, you get a
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Â©2006 San Francisco Chronicle
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