Green Governor Races in Historical Perspective

This year there are two Greens running for Governor: Jesse Johnson is running for Governor of West Virginia, and Duff Badgley in Washington State. Because of Washington’s new “Top 2″ primary, in which all candidates regardless of party are listed on the same primary ballot with the top 2 advancing to the general election, Badgley has already lost his bid. He received 9,702 votes, or 0.67% of the vote, finishing 6th out of 10.

Jesse Johnson, following losing his bid to be the Presidential candidate for the Greens, announced he was returning to West Virginia to run for Governor. Johnson ran for Governor of West Virginia four years ago on the Mountain Party ticket and received 18,430 votes for 2.48%.

Governor’s elections in the United States are bunched in the two years before and after the Presidential elections, with some exceptions. How have Greens fared over the years in seeking the Governor’s race – what kind of results to Greens get, and what should we expect.

Two things really stood out when I looked at all the races over the last 18 years:

First, in 2006 across 18 gubernatorial campaigns there were 900,361 votes cast for Greens for Governor. This is just shy of 1 million Greens in America voting Green at the top of the ballot. This should be exalted. In 2002, 15 Gubernatorial campaigns netted 830,903 votes.

Second, when all results are combined from states where a Green was running for Governor, the nation wide percent for Greens at the top of the ballot was 2.21% in 2006. In the period from 2003-2005, which includes the California Special Election of 2003, the percent vote was 2.22%. In 2002, it was 2.18%. Combining all 54 races that I had data for from 1990-2006, the total percent vote was 1.98%. I think it is fair to say that a solid 2% of the US Voting Population identifies with the Green Party, whether they have an option to vote Green or not.

Lists below the fold:

Let’s look at the number of candidates Greens have put up for Governor, excluding some write-ins unless I could find accurate totals:

1987-1990: 2
1991-94: 6
1995-98: 8
1999-2002: 17
2003-2006: 25 (2003 included a special election in California, in which 4 Green candidates were on the ballot)

Top 10 results by Percent of vote:
1. Rich Whitney (IL) 2006: 10.36%
2. Robert Mondragon (NM) 1994: 10.30%
3. Pat LaMarche (ME) 2006: 9.56%
4. Pat LaMarche (ME) 1998: 6.80%
5. Jonathan Carter (ME) 1994: 6.40%
6. David Bacon (NM) 2002: 5.47%
7. Peter Camejo (CA) 2002: 5.26%
8. Jim Sykes (AK) 1994: 4.10%
9. Kioni Dudley (HI) 1994: 3.50%
10. Jill Stein (MA) 2002: 3.45%

The Top 10 results by number of votes:
1. Peter Camejo (CA) 2002: 393,036
2. Rich Whitney (IL) 2006: 361,336
3. Peter Camejo (CA) 2003: 242,247
4. Peter Camejo (CA) 2006: 205,995
5. Dan Hamberg (CA) 1998: 104,117
6. Jill Stein (MA) 2002: 76,530
7. Pat LaMarche (ME) 2006: 52,690
8. Al Lewis (NY) 1998: 52,533
9. Ken Pentel (MN) 2002: 50,589
10. Robert Mondragon (NM): 1994: 47,080

I think that it is fair to say that the Governor’s race in any state is one where voters can confidently self-identify as Green at the ballot box. This top race in each state should be made a priority for every state green party.

It is also fair to say that looking at these individual races, one must recognize California and Maine for consistent turnout for Greens, and special recognition should go to Peter Camejo (CA), Rich Whitney (IL), Pat LaMarche (ME) and Jill Stein (MA) for exceptional results.

Lets start looking forward to 2010!

Ronald Hardy


  1. Unfortunately in Indiana you have to gather 33,000 signatures to run for governor(same as president). And even if Greens won that race, they still wouldn’t have ballot access. You have to win 2% of the Secretary of State race to achieve ballot access here, after gathering 33,000 signatures to be on the ballot.

  2. In New York, the gubernatorial race is especially important because a party needs to get 50k votes for its gubernatorial candidate in order to maintain ballot status. Since NY allows fusion, the Conservative, Independence, and Working Families parties maintain their ballot lines by endorsing Republicrats, for which they are usually rewarded with some scraps from the Albany trough. Since the NY Greens are independent of the two parties that have given our state what the Brennan Center calls the most dysfunctional state government in the country, we have to fend for ourselves against a hostile system.
    In the last gubernatorial election, the Green candidate only garnered 40k votes and change, meaning that there’s no box to register Green on NY voter registration forms, and anyone who wants to run as a Green has to spend a lot of time and effort gathering signatures. If NY Greens were a little more successful at the top of the ballot, it would make winning elections and organizing at a local level much easier.
    It seems to me that the high expectations for Eliot Spitzer to reform NYS government, and the still-pressing need for reform, mean that a Green candidate for governor with a serious reform message could get us the votes we need for ballot status while establishing us as NY’s second party.

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