Top 10 Green Party Stories of 2010

2010 was a roller coaster year for the Green Party. Mid-term elections proved voter dissatisfaction with the Democrats in power, but the media-darling Tea Party Movement drove voters to reactionary candidates, not helping Greens at the polls. International Greens saw successes in the United Kingdom, Australia, and other places, while US Greens were moved by the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza under siege by Israeli forces. The 2010 Annual National Meeting was held in Detroit, Michigan in conjunction with the US Social Forum, putting Greens side by side their brothers and sisters in the struggle for social justice in America. In the fall, Greens had many exciting candidates running for office including Jill Stein, LeAlan Jones, Laura Wells, Rich Whitney, Tom Clements, Colia Clark, Julia Willebrand, Farheen Hakeem, Howie Hawkins, Cecile Lawrence, Ben Manski, Fred Horsch, and so many other inspiring Greens.

The following Top 10 Green Party stories are taken from a combination of hits on Green Party Watch and other criteria to build a summary of the year. May 2011 be prosperous for Greens around the World. Time is running out.

Top 10 Green Party Stories of 2010

May 7, 2010 – Caroline Lucas becomes first Green Member of Parliament in United Kingdom – Caroline Lucas, leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, won a hotly-contested race in Brighton Pavilion to become the Greens’ first-ever member of parliament. The Guardian summed it up best: “It’s a massive breakthrough, not only because she’s a brilliant, charismatic, humane politican who will enrich parliamentary life, but also because it proves it can be done, even under our antiquated political system.”

May 31, 2010 Green Party and Cynthia McKinney Condemn Freedom Flotilla Massacre – In May of this year the Israeli Navy attacked a flotilla of ships run by the Free Gaza movement carrying humanitarian supplies to the besieged residents of the Gaza Strip. 19 human rights activists were killed in the attack and 50 more wounded. The Green Party, led by 2008 Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, have been vocal and active critics of Israel’s war on the people of Gaza.

“The attacks on the aid boats is a criminal act of piracy and a deliberate provocation,” said Dr. Justine McCabe, co-chair of the Green Party’s International Committee. ““We demand immediate action from the US, including emergency orders from President Obama to cut off all aid to Israel. The policies of the US regarding Israel and Palestine up to now have convinced Israel that it can act with impunity in committing massacres and massive human violations against Palestinian civilians.”

2008 Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney, who was taken prisoner by the Israelis last year on another attack on a Free Gaza ship, said: “I am outraged at Israel’s latest criminal act. I mourn with my fellow Free Gaza travelers, the lives that have been lost by Israel’s needless, senseless act against unarmed humanitarian activists.”

June 8, 2010California Voters Pass Prop 14, Top Two Primary Initiative By a 53% – 46% margin, California voters approved adopting a “top two primary” election reform, a system whereby all candidates appear on a single ballot in the primary but only the top two, regardless of political party, advance to the General Election.

California Gubernatorial candidate Laura Wells had this to say: “Prop 14 pretends to be “open primary,” but more accurately should be called “top two,” or party-killer! Only two candidates would be left in November, when Prop 14 would exclude all the independent, alternative political parties like the Green Party, Peace and Freedom, and Libertarian. Prop 14 would favor only Democrats and Republicans that are incumbents or highly funded.”

June 24-27, 2010 – Green Party Annual National Meeting in Detroit in Conjunction with US Social Forum The Green Party’s Annual National Meeting was held in Detroit, Michigan in conjunction with the US Social Forum. The Green Party sponsored several Social Forum workshops and registration was cross-listed between the two events. Many Green Party candidates were in attendance and available to the media. A number of candidate presentations were taped by Green Party Watch and can be found through this link.

June 2010 – Republicans pay to get Green Party on Ballot in Texas, Democrats Livid If there is one thing that drives Democrats crazier than a Green “spoiling” an election, it is Greens getting on the ballot at all despite overwhelming odds. In Texas, a Republican consultant in Arizona arranged for a non-profit in Missouri to pay for Free & Equal to come up with 92,000 signatures to get the Green Party of Texas on the ballot up and down the ticket. Democrats were livid, immediately suing and issuing injunctions against ballot access. The case went to the Texas supreme court before culminating with the Green Party candidates being allowed to remain on the ballot.

The ultimate result of this was that Ed Lindsay, Green Party of Texas candidate for State Comptroller won over 5% of the vote, ensuring that the Green Party of Texas will have state wide ballot access through the 2012 elections.

August 21, 2010 – Historic Election Results for Australian Greens The Australian Green Party performed very well in the federal elections in Australia, with Adam Bandt winning a seat outright in Melbourne with over 36% of the first-choice vote, and the Greens winning about 12% of the vote in the lower house, giving them a share of control over the balance of power in the Australian Parliament.

September 21, 2010 – Green Party Senate candidate Natasha Pettigrew hit and killed on bicycle Natasha Pettigrew, Senate candidate for the Green Party in Maryland, was riding in the bike lane on a highway early on a Sunday morning by an inattentive driver of a SUV. The driver apparently didn’t realize she had hit anyone until she arrived home. Pettigrew died from her injuries the next day. This (long after the fact) article really captures the influence this story had on people.

November 3, 2010 – Green Party Gains Ballot Access in Texas and New York Election returns resulted in the Green Party gaining ballot access through at least 2012 in two of the most populous states, New York and Texas, however the Green Party lost ballot access in Illinois and Wisconsin. In New York Greens gain ballot status through 2014 thanks to Howie Hawkins earning over 50,000 votes for governor. In Texas Greens gain ballot status through 2012 thanks to Ed Lindsay earning over 5% for comptroller.

November 5, 2010 – Green Party Candidates for US Senate Net Half Million Votes The eleven Green Party candidates on the ballot this year for US Senate netted a combined half million votes. The 510,000 votes is the highest combined total for Green Party Senate candidates since 2000, when Medea Benjamin won 326,000 votes for US Senate in California and Vance Hansen picked up over 100,000 in Arizona. The 2010 results were clearly led by Tom Clements in South Carolina, whose 118,000 votes gave him 9.37% of the total. Clements had the most votes and the highest percent of the vote of all Green Party US Senate candidates in 2010. LeAlan Jones was the second big finisher with 116,000 votes, 3.19% of the total.

2010 – Green Party Elects 37 Greens to Office in 2010 342 Greens ran for office in 2010, over 300 of them were on the ballot in November. 37 Greens were elected, a win rate of 10.8%. All but 2 of the wins were in non-partisan races.

On the November ballot, Greens had strong showings for State Legislative races, but fell short in races for Governor and US House of Representatives. One Green, Ben Chipman, was elected to the Maine State Assembly but was listed as an Independent due to a technicality.


Maryland Green Party Prepares to Submit 10,000+ Signatures

From Ballot Access News:

The Maryland Green Party has 14,613 signatures on its petition to be on the ballot in 2012 and 2014. The Maryland Libertarian Party has 10,200 signatures on its petition. The requirement is 10,000. Both parties have rushed to finish these petitions, because if they submit at least 10,000 raw signatures by January 4, 2011, the state will let the voters who are registered in those parties continue to be registered that way. Otherwise, those voters will all be converted to independents, unless they choose another qualified party.

It is likely the Green Party already has enough signatures. The Libertarian Party will have three weeks after January 4, 2011, to make sure they have 10,000 valid signatures. The Constitution Party has also started its Maryland petition drive.


Hugh Giordano and Labor Unions Challenge Status Quo

“We owe the Democrats and Republicans NOTHING, because they have done NOTHING for our members, for our contracts, and for the movement. How much longer are we going to support a bunch of failures?”

The Philadelphia Weekly has a post-election profile of Pennsylvania State Assembly candidate Hugh Giordano with an emphasis on the role Labor Unions played in the election:

It’s Easy Being Green (With Help of Labor Unions)

Hide your unions, Democrats, because the Green Party is coming to take them away.

Union support and third-party candidates don’t usually mix (especially in this union-backed Democratic stronghold), but a recent state representative race that you probably missed entirely suggests that that could change.

Hugh Giordano, a 26-year-old, Roxborough native and food workers’ union organizer for UFCW Local 152, ran on the Green Party ticket against Democrat Lou Agre for a seat in the 194th. He lost, but garnered 18 percent of the vote (23 percent in Philly)—an unprecedented number for a third-party candidate. He may have his district’s attention, but Giordano and the Green Party of Philadelphia want everyone to know that when it comes to the ballot, three isn’t a crowd. What’s more, they’ve got heavy union support—typically an automatic vote for Democrats—to help them.

“They want you to be stupid,” he says of the “party button,” which essentially allows citizens to vote along party lines without looking at who’s up for election. “It’s a way to control the voter. If you go in there and you think you’re a Democrat, you hit the Democrat button and don’t think about anyone else [in the two-party system]. Republicans and Democrats don’t identify themselves as voters. They identify themselves as a party. The party system is very slick.”
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NY Green Party seeks volunteers for issue work

From the New York Green Party:

Dear Howie Hawkins and Green Party supporters,

The Green Party State committee has established an issues committee to help coordinate state level work around issues critical to the green agenda in NY. We are looking for volunteers.

Please contact Mark Dunlea (dunleamark [at] aol [dot] com) or Gloria Mattera (gmattera [at] gmail [dot] com) if you would like to be on the issues committee. Please let us know what role you would like to play (e.g., work on a particular issue, receive action alerts).

Most green work on issues takes place on the local level, so we can put you in contact as well with local Green Party groups across the state.

Our success in getting back our ballot line means we will get a little more attention from the mainstream media than before. There is a critical need for a strong progressive voice at the state level, especially with Governor elect Cuomo joining in the bi-partisan effort to respond to the Great Recession with an austerity program of protecting tax cuts for the wealthy, attacking benefits for public employee unions, and slashing funding for essential public services.

Some of the key Green issues being looked at for 2011 include: a ban on hydrofracking for natural gas; education; state budget / progressive revenue options; single payer health care; climate change; and peace/ cut the military budget. Continue Reading


Natasha Pettigrew Remembered

From the Washington Post, Dec. 22:

By Melissa Bell
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010;
Natasha Pettigrew stood on the shore of Virginia Beach looking out at the choppy, wild waves of the sea before her first triathlon in 2005. Some of her fellow competitors demurred; conditions were rougher than expected, too risky, they thought, for the race’s first leg.

“I saw Natasha standing there in her wet suit, staring at the water,” said her mother, Kenniss Henry. “I thought, She’s going to swim. She’s going to do it.”

Pettigrew did. She charged in, dove under a huge wave and swam the kilometer out and back to shore. She came bounding out of the sea, grinning and waving to her mother. “My heart was in my throat, and she’s gushing about how cute the lifeguard was!” Henry remembered.

The challenge of that first race had Pettigrew hooked. But five years later, she would dive into a very different kind of race, where the prize was not a medal but a U.S. Senate seat.

Pettigrew, 30, had spent her Washington-area childhood tagging along with her mother to political demonstrations, museums and documentaries about social issues. Henry said Pettigrew was a statistic: the child of a single, black mother. But Pettigrew, who grew up watching her mom work three jobs to make sure her daughter could get a good education, wanted to show that hard work could overcome the dire predictions often lobbed at women such as her. She took a leave of absence from her final year of law school at the University of Miami and returned to Largo with plans to run for Senate.

Pettigrew knew the race would be an uphill battle when she walked into the office of Brian Bittner, the co-chair of the Maryland Green Party, and asked if his party would back her candidacy. It was a bold request, given that she and Bittner had not previously met.

“We don’t really relish being in the role of the underdog,” Bittner said. “But we try our best to get our voice out there.” Pettigrew hadn’t been active with the party before, but her values lined up with theirs: social justice, environmental issues, feminism and grass-roots democracy. Pettigrew’s enthusiasm, and her willingness to enter the long and likely unwinnable battle, persuaded Bittner that she was the right voice for speak for the party.

The official campaign photograph on her Web site (headlined “Natasha for Senate: Running for the People!”) shows Pettigrew wearing a huge smile. Her hair is long and loose. Her face gleams with excitement. She relished time out in the field, meeting new people, stumping on ways to strengthen the education system, advocating for health care reform, talking to children about the need to stay in school. That she was a third-party candidate running against incumbent Barbara Mikulski — a Democrat popular with voters and the longest-serving female senator in U.S. history — did not dissuade Pettigrew; rather, she felt invigorated by the task.

“It cannot be the easy route. It always had to be a little bit different. She thrived in that mentality,” said her best friend, Imani Gamble. “The rest of us try to find the way we can do something with the least resistance. Not her.”

Winning the election was a long shot, Pettigrew knew, but garnering the most votes was not the only victory she sought. She wanted to offer people another option to incumbent politicians. She hoped to get votes without raising corporate money. She wanted to show people her own age that they didn’t have to wait around for someone else to fix things. If she could inspire some people, if she could make a difference, that would be a success.

“If you want to see change happen,” Pettigrew had told friends, “do it yourself, because it’s not going to happen otherwise.”

Despite the pressure of the campaign trail, Pettigrew made time for triathlon training. She was up and out of her mother’s house before dawn on the morning of Sept. 19 for a bike ride. She had often complained to friends in Miami how terrible the city was for bikers and praised the trails and bike lanes in Maryland.

She set out on one of those bike lanes along Route 202 in Largo. At 5:30 a.m., a Cadillac Escalade crashed into her; the driver didn’t realize she’d hit a person until she got home. Pettigrew died two days later, just five weeks before Election Day. An investigation is ongoing, according to police.

When Pettigrew died, her Facebook page filled up with notes from voters promising to write her name onto the ballot. Her mother stepped in to finish out her daughter’s campaign. “She had already won the race,” Henry said. “I just had to make the sprint to the finish line. That was the least I could do.”

Henry received 20,717 votes — just over 1 percent, but a win in her mind. On Election Day, a man approached a Green Party pollster and said Pettigrew’s story had inspired him to vote outside his party for the first time in his life. “We collectively completed what she set out to do,” Henry said.

Now Henry has taken on a new challenge: pushing the Maryland General Assembly to adopt stronger safety laws to protect bicyclists and pushing for tougher penalties for drivers who hit them.

It’s exactly what Pettigrew would have done — worked to fix the problem.


Memo to Progressives (Scott McClarty)

Scott McClarty, Media Coordinator for the Green Party (US), has a piece at OpEdNews, a Memo to Progressives:

Is it time for progressive, antiwar, and pro-environmental activists and voters to look beyond the Democratic Party and seek other alliances?

There’s only one plausible excuse left for such voters to remain loyal to the Dems in the realm of electoral politics: to prevent the GOP from winning. Some progressives insist that we need to continue supporting Democrats because of Supreme Court appointments (although Dems in Congress have approved some of the most ideologically rigid Republican appointees) and to save reproductive rights (already watered down, with Democratic help), but these are corollaries of the ‘defeat the Republicans’ argument.

Is this enough reason to invest eternal hope in the Democratic Party? Is there any future for progressives beyond excuse-making?

It’s no secret that voters who call themselves progressive have been frustrated by the Obama Administration’s broken promise of “change we can believe in.” The list of disappointments is extensive:
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When Green Matters (Sam Smith at Counterpunch)

Sam Smith, editor of the Progressive Review, has a piece on Counterpunch called When Green Matters. It focuses on the relative success of Green Party candidate Fred Horch in Maine and the past success of John Eder in Maine and why we should pay attention. Please read it all, but I have to reprint the conclusion:

Horch and Eder are examples of backyard Greens, whose influence spreads virally through human contact and experience and not through the mass media. It’s the way every great drive for social change has worked in America – the abolitionists, the populists, the early socialists, and the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, too many Green leaders have read too much Marx and not enough American history.

The big parties gave up human relationships long ago. Which is why we have such a hard time relating to them. But you can’t text your way to the presidency, you can’t Facebook a revolution and you can’t save the planet with Twitter. At some point real people have to join with, talk to, and help other real people.

Which is why a Green small business owner in Brunswick did so well and why so many others could learn something from the story.


UK Young Greens Membership Sees Spike After Lib Dems Back Student Fee Hikes

From Ekklesia:

Membership of the Young Greens increased by 10 per cent in just one weekend after Parliament voted to treble the cap on university fees in England to £9,000 per year.

The organisation, which is the youth wing of the Green Party of England and Wales, says that students and young people are abandoning their traditional support for the Liberal Democrats.

Students have expressed anger over the decision of 28 Liberal Decmocrat MPs, including the party’s leaders, to back the fee hike in a Commons vote last Thursday (9 December). Prior to this year’s general election, every Liberal Democrat MP pledged to vote against increase in fees.

On Friday, the day after the vote, the Green Party offered free membership for a limited period to students of any age and to people under 30. A similar offer was made by Plaid Cymru.

The Young Greens say there was a 10 per cent increase at the weekend, with 40-50 people joining in an hour at the busiest periods. Over 400 young people have joined the Greens since the vote in the Commons.

Responding to the recent education cuts, Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party and MP for Brighton Pavilion, said “The huge hikes in tuition fees, together with the scrapping of Educational Maintenance Allowance and proposed cuts in college funding, amount to nothing less than a government assault on our young people – and an attack on the principles of universal education.”

She also countered the government’s claims that rises in tuition fees are the only way to fund the gap left by the 80 per cent cut to the teaching grant given to universities.

“There are alternatives,” insisted Lucas, “For example, a business education tax levied on the top four per cent of UK companies would require business to pay its fair share for the substantial benefits it receives from higher education. Tragically, such alternatives haven’t even been looked at. Instead we have this ill-considered policy rushed through in the face of huge public opposition.”

Meanwhile, Adam Pogonowski, a Young Green councillor in Cambridge, said, “This is a shocking and depressing vote against universal free education. The Green Party is the only party who believes in fair and free education for all. I urge all voters to vote for a party who will not break such fundamental promises with such flagrant disregard for those who elected them, in the local elections next May.”

The Young Greens have also responded to the reports that the police have used excessive force in the recent tuition fee protests by launching a petition that calls on the Metropolitan Police Authority to ban the practice of ‘kettling’- confining groups of protestors in small spaces and refusing to allow them to move, often for hours at a time.


An Appeal For Support From Green Party Watch

Last week the Green Party’s National Committee passed a new Fiscal Policy intended to position the Party for financial growth going into 2011 and beyond. Now the National Committee is discussing the proposed 2011 Budget for the Party, which is (again) optimistic in light of the economic collapse this country is facing and the effect this economy has had on funding for non-profits. To the credit of this proposed budget it does more closely tie proposed expenditures to fund-raising targets, and it actually budgets for electoral support such as Ballot Access and Campaign support, something sorely missing from prior budgets.

But let me be frank – the Green Party of the United States, given that it does not accept corporate funding and is not eligible for public financing, is almost entirely funded by small donations from Greens like you and I. There are no National Membership Dues, there are only pleas for financial support. The financial support from us “Greens on the Street” have paid for having an office in DC, paid for having a Political Director, and Office Manager, and until recently a Fundraiser and Accountant. The Green Party (US) Budget has typically been shoe string at best, half or one-third that of the Libertarian Party, and likely a fraction of the budget of the two Corporate Parties that control our government and electoral system.

In fact, I will go a step further and say that there are months in which the Green Party (US) has had to decide between paying staff salaries on time versus paying off debts to creditors versus paying the rent. Sound familiar? Yup, many of us have been in the same boat.

Green Party Watch is a website dedicated to covering news and views about the Green Party, particularly the Green Party in the US, and without the Green Party we would have nothing to cover. Our goals in creating this website were primarily to help raise awareness online and through the media of what the Green Party is doing, what Green Party Candidates are doing, and what Green Party locals and state parties are doing. Green Party Watch is an ALL VOLUNTEER EFFORT. We have never asked for any money, we have never asked for any compensation for our time and work, and we don’t intend to. We have no paid advertisements on this site, there are no pop-ups, no Google ads, nothing.

We intend to continue this ad-free public service to Greens across the United States and beyond because we believe in expanding media coverage of the Green Party in order to fill that void in our corporate media, and we believe in helping to build a stronger community awareness of the Green Party by spreading the word of what the Green Party is up to, good or bad.

So now comes my rare and special plea to you, the Green Party Watch reader. I’m not going to ask for financial support for Green Party Watch (we don’t need it, not really). I’m not going to ask for support for my own campaign for City Council in Oshkosh, Wisconsin this Spring.

I am asking you to join me in making a small financial contribution to the Green Party of the United States.

Why? I won’t tell you that it is for campaign support or ballot access or anything other than what it is – A donation to KEEP THE GREEN PARTY IN THE BLACK. A donation to keep the office doors open, to keep the phone bill paid, to pay for mailings, to pay for merchandise, to pay for health insurance for the two or three employees the Green Party retains, to pay for travel costs to prepare the Annual National Meeting, to pay for the general operating expenses of an organization.

But not just any organization, the Green Party is NOT the Sierra Club. The Green Party is a bootstrap grassroots political organization that has a skeleton staff, low overhead costs, and no corporate ties. Nonetheless when I call 1-866-41-GREEN I reach an actual human who can answer my questions.

A donation to support the Green Party Candidate Database which we have used so extensively in our reporting here at GPW, and expanded coverage of Local Candidates. A donation to support continued Media Outreach, better web presence, LiveFeeds, support for a Local Organizing Kit, Publication of Green Pages, and more.

Green Party Watch gets around 500 visitors a day. During Election times or Israeli kidnapping of Cynthia McKinney we get thousands of hits a day. We have almost 1,500 people subscribed to our Facebook feed. None of this would be relevant without the Green Party. I have arranged with the Green Party (US) to set up a specific fund-raising campaign for the Green Party from Green Party Watch. I am now asking all of the GPW readers to either make a large or small donation to the Green Party or to become a sustaining member, whatever you can manage. Lets put our money where our mouths are.

I am pledging a $100 donation to the Green Party if someone will match me. Who’s in? $50? $25? How about the price of a pizza delivery?

Lets give a gift to the Green Party from Green Party Watch letting them know that we want them to keep the doors open, the phones on, and the candidates to support!

Comments MORE than welcome!


Poland Elects First Openly Gay Official (and he’s Green)

Interesting story from Gay City News (Thanks Dave):

In an historic first for the country considered the most Catholic in Europe, Krystian Legierski became Poland’s first openly gay elected official when he was elected to Warsaw’s City Council in country-wide municipal elections on November 21.

Not only is Legierski, a 32-year old lawyer, entrepreneur, gay activist, and Green Party leader, a well-known figure in the Warsaw gay community, he is also black.


Legierski was elected under proportional representation as a Green candidate on a coalition ticket led by Poland’s Social Democratic Party from a Warsaw district he describes as “rather upscale and conservative.” In the new 60-member City Council, the conservative Civic Platform party of Prime Minister Donald Tusk will have 33 seats, the intensely homophobic and ultra-nationalist Law and Justice Party — founded by the Kaczynski brothers — will have 17 seats, and the left opposition, of which Legierski is a part, will have ten seats.

Fascinating article, highly worth reading it all here.