By Mike Feinstein, Green Party of California
US Greens have several goals for 1998: first, to continue winning municipal and county elections. Second, to gain (and retain) ballot status. Third, to win a state legislative seat for the first time. Fourth, to spread the Green message and build the Green Party.
As of April, three Greens have already been elected in ‘98 – Cris Moore, City Council, Santa Fe, NM, James Corrigan, Trustee, Northrop Village, Suffolk County and Krista Paradise, Trustee, Carbondale, CO.
For the fall, at least 55 Greens have already come forward as likely candidates, and probably another 20-30 will come forward as filing dates approach. The states with the most candidates will likely be California, New Mexico and New York. (For a complete run-down of all ‘98 candidates, see the fall edition of GreenPages,, out in September).
In addition to Moore and Paradise, at least two more Green incumbent city councilmembers will seek re-election in November: Alan Drusys, Yucaipa, CA and Dona Spring, Berkeley, CA. For Spring, it would be for a US Green record fourth-term. Spring’s first three terms have been for two years each. Berkeley law is now changing and this year terms will shift from two-years to four-years in length.
In Arcata, either incumbent Vice-Mayor Jason Kirkpatrick will run again, or another Arcata Green will take his place, as Greens try to defend their first-ever Green City Council majority in the US there. In Menlo Park, Steven Schmidt has yet to decide whether he will run again. Two additional incumbents have already decided not to run – Terri Williams, Mayor, Webster Grove, MO and Bruce Mast, City Council, Albany, CA.
There are also several others who are expected to have a good chance at winning among the 30 or so already declared candidates for municipal and county office: in Mendocino County, California, SEIU organizer Joe Louis Hoffman is attempting to become California’s first Green elected to a County Board of Supervisors. Hoffman faces a primary election in June. If he finishes as one of the two top vote-getters (which is a strong possibility), and if neither has a majority, then a run-off will be held in November. Since the other candidate likely to make the run-off will be a Republican, there is a strong possibility that Hoffman would win, because Mendocino County is overwhelmingly liberal (Green presidential candidate Ralph Nader had his best county result in the country there in 1996 – 11%).
On the island of Hawai’i, Julie Jacobson will make her second run for a seat on the County Council, District 6. In 1996 she finished second out of three candidates (37%-33%-25%). County races are partisan in Hawai’i. Last time, Jacobson beat the Democrat. Other local races to watch are first-timers Annie Goeke, for City Council in Lancaster, PA; and Kevin McKeown, who seeks to become the second Green on the Santa Monica, CA City Council, joining Mike Feinstein, who was elected in 1996.
Another test of Green strength will be when the party will win its first state legislative seat. Since 1992, , Green candidates have either finished second, or a close third, in several three-way races for state legislature. This is remarkable for a young party, especially within the US winner-take-all system.
In 1998, Greens hope to break through and win a seat. Two possibilities stand out – in Maine, community and social justice activist Betsy Marsano, for State House, in Portland’s mostly low-income District 30; and Elizabeth Horton Scheff, for State Assembly in one of the Hartford districts. Unlike in some of the bigger states, in both cases, these districts are small enough that a grassroots campaign can win walking door to door. Both candidates are long-time, well-known community members.
On as statewide level, at least five states will be running gubernatorial candidates – California, Maine, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin. In these races, the campaign goal will include gaining/retaining ballot status.
In California, former Congressman Dan Hamburg, (who left the Democrats in 1996 to join the Greens), will be the state’s first Green candidate for Governor. He will be joined by Lt. Governor candidate Sara Amir, a California EPA scientist. If either receives 2% of the vote, or if the party maintains it current level of Green voter registration (highly likely), then the Greens remains on the California ballot for another four years.
In Minnesota, Ken Pentel is seeking the party’s nomination for Governor. To retain their ballot status, the Greens there need at least 1% of the vote. In Maine, New York and Wisconsin, there will be Green gubernatorial candidates, but it is not yet clear whom they will be. In Maine the candidate will need 5% of the vote to regain ballot status and in Wisconsin 1%. In New York, they will need 50,000 votes.
In Wisconsin, they also plan to run for Lt. Governor, Congress, State Senate and State Assembly .
Alaska Greens have not decided yet whether they will run a gubernatorial candidate to retain their ballot status (they’d need 3%), or whether they will try and increase their voter registration to the required number.
In Oregon, the Greens will be headed by US Senate candidate Karyn Moskowitz, an environmental economics analyst. They need 1% of the vote. Achieving this will difficult because at least six parties will contest the Senate race. In Colorado, Greens will likely run for either the US Senate or the state university Board of Regents.
New Mexico will have four statewide candidates on the ballot, with two of them headlining – Steve Cabiedes for Secretary of State and Sam Hitt, State Land Commissioner. Hitt will advocate sustainable land use approaches to grazing, water quality and development. Cabiedes, perhaps the most well-versed Secretary of State candidate on election law, will focus on electoral reforms like IRV (see page 4) and proportional representation. The Greens need 5% in a state race to retain ballot status. Hitt’s race is a two-way race, with no Republican entered. In 1994 Green Pat Wolff received 12% in three-way race for the same office.
Georgia will see its first statewide Green candidates in 1998: long-time Green organizer Hugh Esco for Lt. Governor and local social justice activist Leonard Tate for Labor Commissioner.
For Congress, there will be at least ten Green running, including six in California. Perhaps the most significant will be the return of Carol Miller, for the 3rd Congressional District in New Mexico. Miller’s earthshaking 17% in 1995 was an all-time high for US Greens in a Federal race. How she and the New Mexico Greens follow this up will be watched nationwide.