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The Road to Chicago


Tom Yager, Presidential Campaign Support Committee

In August 2007, the Green National Committee voted to hold the 2008 Presidential Nominating Convention in Chicago from July 10-13. A great deal of work is necessary for the success of the Green Party’s nomination process. The Presidential Campaign Support Committee (PCSC), the Committee on Bylaws, Rules, Policies and Procedures (BRPP), the Annual National Meeting Committee and Convention Credentials Committee all have key roles in making it happen.

The BRPP has written convention rules, including the credentialing of state delegations. The drafting of rules to govern the nominating process itself was still in process in January 2008.

The PCSC has been charged with numerous tasks, including responding to inquiries from declared and potential candidates; helping them to start fundraising, finding volunteers, and other campaign activities; assisting state parties with their presidential nominating primaries and caucuses; and coordinating presidential candidate forums.

Becoming a nationally recognized Green Party presidential candidate

Officially recognized candidates for the Green Party nomination were required to meet the following criteria, as approved by the National Committee in September 2007 (Proposal 311):

  • To submit an official Candidate Questionnaire to the PCSC.
  • To not be a member of another political party.
  • To pledge to use all offered Green Party ballot lines.
  • To have a website for his/her candidacy.
  • To receive verifiable support from 100 Green Party members, including members from at least 5 state parties, no later than December 1, 2007.
  • To establish a campaign committee and file with the Federal Elections Commission, no later than December 31, 2007.
  • To raise at least $5,000, not including self-financing, for the purpose of his/her campaign, no later than February 1, 2008.

According to this same policy, individuals could also receive recognition as draft candidates if they met the following criteria:

  • To not be a member of another political party.
  • To receive verifiable support from 100 Green Party members, including members from at least 5 state parties, no later than December 1, 2007.
  • To meet the remaining criteria for officially recognized candidates by December 31, 2007.

The PCSC worked with declared and potential candidates to help them meet these criteria. It also encouraged applicants who were not ready to run in 2008 to seek other elected offices or to consider running in 2012.

As of mid-January 2008, there were five officially recognized candidates according to these criteria: Jared Ball, Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay, and Kat Swift. Although Ralph Nader did not meet the December 31st deadline by mid-January, the PCSC nevertheless considered him as a recognized draft candidate.

Presidential candidate forums

In July 2007, the PCSC put together a forum for all the then declared candidates to speak at the Green Party’s annual national meeting in Reading, Pennsylvania. Since then, the PCSC has assisted state parties with setting up and coordinating their own presidential candidate forums.

The first was held by the Green Party of Minnesota in Minneapolis on January 5th with Johnson, Swift and representatives for McKinney and Nader. Then on January 13th at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco, Ball, Johnson, McKinney, Mesplay, Nader and Swift were all in attendance. Under the header “Green Campaign 2008: A Presidential Debate that Matters”, the debate attracted more than 800 people and was rebroadcast and archived on Pacifica Radio Station KPFA in Berkeley and also uploaded on YouTube.

At this debate Ball dropped out of the race and endorsed McKinney in his place. An assistant professor of communications studies at Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD), Navy veteran who served during Desert Shield/Desert Storm and D.C. Green Party member, Ball is an independent journalist, radio host with Pacifica Radio WPFW (Washington, DC,) Editor-at-Large of the Words, Beats and Life Global Journal of Hip-Hop Culture and founder of FreeMix Radio: The Original Mixtape Radio Show.

In February candidate forums are being held in the District of Columbia for the D.C. Greens and in the state capital of Harrisburg for the Green Party of Pennsylvania. Further forums are scheduled for Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. To view videos from these debates, see www.gp.org/ 2008-elections/presidential-videos.php

State party primaries, conventions and caucuses

The PCSC is helping state Green Parties develop their democratic processes for electing delegates to the convention. Because of differences in state laws and state party ballot status, the processes vary widely from state to state

Greens in Arkansas, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts had state-funded primaries on February 5; and in Washington D.C., on February 12. The Mountain Party of West Virginia will also hold its primary on February 12. The Arkansas primary is “open”; any registered voter may participate because Arkansas does not have registration by party. The Massachusetts primary is “closed”; only registered Greens may participate.

Ballot access laws for primaries are highly variable between different states. In Arkansas, California, and Massachusetts, the state simply accepts the candidates approved by the party leadership. In the District of Columbia, a candidate must collect signatures from one percent of the party’s registrants. In Illinois, candidates in the primaries were required to collect a minimum of 3,000 signatures. The Illinois Greens, by petitioning, succeeded in placing Ball, McKinney, Mesplay and Howie Hawkins (a stand-in for Nader), on the ballot last fall.

Although the Green Party currently has ballot access in 21 states, not every party with ballot access is eligible for a state-funded primary. In some states, such as Arkansas, California, D.C., Illinois, and West Virginia, having ballot status automatically allows a state to hold a primary. However, other states make distinctions between ballot-qualified minor and major parties. In Texas, for example, it is possible for a party to get ballot status by winning five percent of the vote in a statewide race, but to not be eligible to hold a primary if the party did not get three percent of the vote in the previous Governors race.

Parties that are ineligible for state-funded primaries are holding caucuses, conventions, or mail ballots of their membership. On March 4th, the Green Party of Minnesota plans to hold its caucus. The Green Party of Virginia will conduct a mail ballot in March. The Green Party of Pennsylvania will hold county caucuses from April 24 through May 10. The Green Party of Texas will hold its nominating convention in June.

A complete nomination calendar, including party primaries, conventions, caucuses and state delegate selection timing, is at www.gp.org/2008-elections/ president/nomination_calendar.

Delegate apportionment: state and national

The PCSC is encouraging as many state parties as possible to have their delegates chosen and instructed by April 1. Under the convention rules passed by the Green National Committee in November 2007, “States are urged to provide in their Delegate Plans for a delegate selection process that offers representation proportional to the support each candidate enjoys within the state Green Party represented by the delegation† and that allows the delegation to reflect the diversity within the state Green Party and the state’s population”.

In January 2008, the National Committee approved a delegate apportionment formula (Proposal 336) establishing that GPUS affiliated caucuses and state parties shall receive four times the number of delegates allocated for the Green National Committee. Unaffiliated states, territories and caucuses, credentialed according to convention rules or affiliated after apportionment, shall be allocated four votes and four delegates.

Each delegate seat counts for one vote. Proxy votes are allowed, as provided for in the convention rules, as long as the total number of votes cast for does not exceed twice the number of voting delegates in attendance for that delegation.

A complete breakdown of the number of delegates per state is available at www.gp.org/cgi-bin/vote/propdetail? pid=336

Recognized declared presidential candidates as of late January 2008

Jesse Johnson is the co-chair of the Mountain Party of West Virginia, which became affiliated with the Green Party of the United States at the national meeting in Reading last July. He produced, directed, and acted in many plays and films, and founded Talkback, Children Respond to Violence in the Media, which uses the arts to teach inner-city elementary school students how to combat violence. He was the Mountain Party’s candidate for Governor in 2004 and U.S. Senate in 2006.

Cynthia McKinney was elected to the Georgia state legislature as a Democrat in 1988 and to Congress in 1992. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the U.S. House of Repre senta tives, serving in Congress from 1993 to 2003 and from 2005 to 2007. She served as an advocate for voting Hurricane Katrina victims disenfranchised in the 2000 and 2004 election. Last year, she left the Democratic Party and registered as a Green.

Kent Mesplay has been a registered Green since 1995 in California, serving as one of his state’s delegates to the Green National Committee since 2004. He has worked as a substitute teacher and an Air Quality Inspector at the Air Pollution Control District, San Diego. He also served as the president of Turtle Island Institute. In 2004, he ran in the Green presidential primaries and caucuses, and in 2006, in the Green primary for U.S. Senate.

Kat Swift is a member of the Green Party of Texas, having served on her party’s State Executive Committee and as co-spokesperson for the national partys Womens Caucus. She has served as a facilitator for the Green Party and for several other organizations, groups, and coalitions, including Clean Money San Antonio and SA Democracy Now. She currently works as an accountant. In 2007, she became the first Green to run for the City Council of San Antonio.

Recognized draft presidential candidates as of January 2008

Ralph Nader has been a long-time advocate for consumer rights, environmental causes, product safety, and greater government and corporate accountability. He helped to pass numerous reforms, including the National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Consu mer Product Safety Act. He founded or sponsored many organizations, including Public Citizen and Multinational Monitor. In 1996 and 2000, he was nominated as the Green Partys Presidential candidate.


Note: Subsequent to the publication of this issue, Ralph Nader announced his candidacy for President as an Independent

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