“People are probably telling him they like him and they like his ideas,” says Palmeri, who ran as a Green Party candidate in 2004 for a state Assembly seat in Oshkosh, earning 9 percent of the vote. “But once voters get inside the voting booth, it becomes really hard for them to vote against one of the two major political parties,” adds Palmeri, an associate communications professor at UW-Oshkosh and now a member of the non-partisan Oshkosh City Council.
But Manski, an attorney and director with the Liberty Tree Foundation, a Madison-based group that works for democratic reform, and former co-chair of the National Green Party, is eager for the challenge. In fact, he practically taunts the voters in Assembly District 77, a heavily Democratic district on Madison’s west side, to ignore party ties.
“The election will be a test of whether this will be a progressive district or a partisan district,” says Manski, 36, whose main challenger on Nov. 2 will be Dane County Board supervisor and environmental consultant Brett Hulsey, 52…
Two other candidates – Republican David Redick and Constitution Party candidate David Olson – are vying for Black’s seat, but the district’s tradition of being led by progressive, environmentally-friendly lawmakers means Hulsey and Manski are the hands-down favorites heading into November.
Voting records from the 2008 presidential election show district voters chose Democratic Barack Obama 4 to 1 over Republican John McCain and it’s been roughly 40 years since the district was represented by a Republican. These numbers are one reason why Joel Rogers, an expert on third-party candidates who helped found in 1990 the now-defunct New Party, believes Manski has a shot.
“Manski won’t be viewed like most third party candidates as a spoiler candidate or a waste of a vote,” says Rogers, director of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy and a UW-Madison professor of law, political science and sociology. “It’s an open race. All rules are off.”