Greens explore running anti-war candidates: Panel examines incumbents' recordsThe Green Party of Californias Campaigns and Candidates Working Group hosted a forum Sunday, March 23, in San Francisco, to discuss whether to run candidates for federal and local offices in 2004.
by Kenny Mostern
A panel of Green leaders, including 2002 candidate for governor Peter Camejo; 2000 candidate for Senate Medea Benjamin; President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Matt Gonzalez; and co-chair of the Green Party of the United States Jo Chamberlain, presented their ideas. Following this, numerous positions were expressed by audience members.
The panelists mostly agreed that because of the war, the Green Party should run as many candidates as possible in 2004. Camejo and Benjamin, in particular, argued that this is the moment we must challenge Democratseven the generally liberal US Senator Barbara Boxeron their support for the war in Iraq. This argument also carried over to the question of which seats to focus on in the US Congress. One proposal by the Campaigns and Candidates Working Group that seems to have consensus support is that the Party should target the eight California Democrats who voted in favor of the initial war power resolution authorizing Bush to attack at will.
However, there was substantial disagreement among audience members about Boxer, so substantial that Benjamin stated publicly that she would rethink her position. The main arguments against challenging Boxer are:
1. Barbara Boxer remains the most liberal Senator, and even if we know she falls short on significant policy issues, a Boxer loss would be costly in the areas where we agree with her, and would be lead to bad publicity for the Green Party.
2. Running a statewide campaign could take a significant amount of Green Partys resources, leaving fewer resources for running local candidates. This is only worth doing if the payoff in positive media and the number of voters we can attract is very high. For example, with Camejo, we not only had a talented and charismatic candidate who attracted excellent attention to the Green Party, but we got 5.3% of the vote because large numbers of liberal Democrats cast protest votes against an unpopular, conservative Governor. It is unlikely that this would repeat itself with Boxer. Many audience members urged the Party to instead expend its limited resources on local races we can win.
3. For at least some members of the audience, the question of the quality of the candidate, no matter for what office, was paramount. For these individuals we should never start with the question Should we run against so-and-so?, but rather Who do we have as an appropriate candidate, and what are they qualified to run for?
The forum was not intended to reach conclusions to any of these questions, but rather to raise issues that will continue to be discussed by the Campaigns and Candidates Working Group throughout 2003.
The Campaigns and Candidates Working Group has four co-chairs, located throughout the state: Forrest Hill (Davis) mailto:email@example.com, Susan King (San Francisco) firstname.lastname@example.org, Magali Offerman (San Diego) email@example.com, Larry Shoup (Oakland) firstname.lastname@example.org
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