Carol Marin: Unhappy Illinois voters could turn to the Green Party

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Huckelberry, 33, chairs the Illinois Green Party, and he sees a tide slowly turning its way.You might think that sounds ridiculous but hang on.

Illinois has had only a short courtship with the Greens since they fielded their first slate of statewide candidates in 2006. And their candidate for governor that year (and this year), Rich Whitney, did well enough against Rod Blagojevich and Judy Baar Topinka to pick up 10.4 percent of the total vote.

That was more than double the 5 percent minimum vote threshold to become a legally established political party in Illinois. That’s why, if you were one of the precious few who voted two weeks ago, you could request not only a Republican or Democratic ballot — you could have pulled a Green one instead.

As many as 5,000 voters did so, according to the Green Party, even though their candidates, unlike the Dems and the GOP, were in uncontested races.

“Those voters were more interested in an outright protest vote,” Huckelberry said.

9 thoughts on “Carol Marin: Unhappy Illinois voters could turn to the Green Party

  1. jason

    I’ve always said the Greens should quit running presidential candidates and focus solely on statewide and Congressional races…

  2. Ross Levin Post author

    Jason, I agree, but I think even statewide and Congressional races are too significant at this point. Greens have just about zero resources, and I think they should focus on building up presences in places like northern California, Massachusetts, Maine, and other strongholds of theirs. Once they build up some local credibility and political power, then they should take it from there.

  3. Vaughn

    The same would go for any minor party. However, a lot of states require status to be based partially (or wholly) on the vote for president. The two parties make it that way to draw our resources. I do agree it is a waste of money, but if it is needed to maintain status then it is a necessary evil.

  4. Dave Schwab

    “I’ve always said the Greens should quit running presidential candidates and focus solely on statewide and Congressional races…”

    2 reasons why such a strategy would hurt the party:

    1. Ballot access rules in many states depend on the presidential race. For example, in Arkansas the Green Party lost its ballot status because its presidential candidate didn’t poll 3%, despite the fact that the Greens elected a state legislator and got over 20% for US Senate and US House. Not running for president would forfeit ballot status and force the party to start from scratch every election cycle.

    2. High-profile elections for president and governor get the most media attention and are the best platform for broadcasting your party’s positions. Even many Greens who work on local campaigns were brought to the party by a presidential campaign like Nader’s or McKinney’s. By not running for president, the GP would forfeit free publicity. Also, candidates for high office can claim a right to participate in the debates, which is very good free publicity for the GP when it happens.

  5. Scott West

    David,

    Please let me know exact which states you mean when you say “Ballot access rules in many states depend on the presidential race.” This argument is always brought up in these discussions. I cant understand the strategic decision to concentrate on Presidential races with without knowing which states and what performance thresholds are in play.

  6. Dave Schwab

    Scott, since ballot access laws vary from state to state, I couldn’t name all the states where the presidential race is key to ballot status. You’d probably have to ask the expert at Ballot Access News. I do know that Arkansas and New Mexico are examples of states where Greens did well in lower-level races, but lost ballot status because the presidential ticket failed to garner the required number of votes.

    My argument isn’t just about the presidential race, but also about high-level races in general. In New York, everything depends on getting 50,000 votes in the governor’s race. So the Greens need to run in the biggest-impact race to get a ballot line and a check box on the voter registration form. Having a ballot line makes it much easier for the party to run local candidates. So state law requires us to concentrate resources on the biggest race so we can participate in the small ones. I’d like this situation to be more widely understood so we can have a conversation about reforming unfair ballot access laws, rather than explaining Green Party strategy that is based on coping with such laws.

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