Jason Pramas: Are Grace Ross and Jill Stein Jumping the Political Gun by Running in the Mass. Gubernatorial Race?

The progressive activist and publisher of Open Media Boston Jason Pramas has published an editorial concerning the entry of Green candidate Jill Stein and Green-turned-Democrat Grace Ross into the Massachusetts gubernatorial race.

My main fear is not that Patrick will lose and that a Republican will be elected governor. Pretty much the same pro-business policies are going to result either way – although it will be somewhat worse in some important policy areas if the Republicans win. My main fear is that Ross and Stein wouldn’t ever be allowed to govern even if they won – which speaks to the long arduous job that will be necessary to uproot the existing political establishment. Although it’s hard to ask people who have already devoted a lot of effort to the higher level political campaigns they’ve mustered in the last several years to do even more hard work at the grassroots level before going for various higher level electoral brass rings. Nevertheless, I think that’s the way it has to be.

When I brought these points up to Ross and Stein, both candidates basically said that they felt their political groupings would benefit much more from a statewide campaign than from lower level campaigns. Because they can definitely get a lot of attention paid to their ideas even if they don’t get a zillion votes. And they can win a lot of partisans who will work with them over the long haul in the years to come if they do a credible job as candidates. Both women have shown they can more than hold their own in public debate against traditional and non-traditional competitors. Plus it’s fairly clear that both candidates do believe there’s a hope that they could actually win. And I don’t grudge them that. It is indeed possible that one of them could, depending on the circumstances. But that possibility is a slim one at best.

On the down side, they can also burn out a lot of people that might work in their campaigns who will not return to their circles after the experience. And they can also lose serious points with the general public that might just view them as a sideshow – and dismiss them long after they’ve built a more polished and experienced multifocal
electoral apparatus.

More practically, Mass. progressive movements – which are very much split on the question of electoral efforts to the left of the Democrats – are going to have a hard time sustaining two candidates. As it is, any progressive candidate outside the Democratic mainstream is going to face a gauntlet of union and non-profit leaders who are going to say (in just the kind of back room conversations that I’ve been directly or indirectly privy to over the years) “stop screwing around people! This is not a game. Don’t mess things up for us.”

Even as unions and non-profits continue to get screwed up and down by both major parties on a host of key issues.

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