Who should be the 2012 Green Party Presidential Candidate?

Discussion has been picking up on an older post here at Green Party Watch discussing possible 2012 Green Party Presidential Candidates. I want to move this discussion up to the “top of the list” with a new thread and new opportunity for discussion.

The Green Party (US) has a Presidential Campaign Support Committee (PCSC) which is charged with outreach to potential candidates among other things. That committee is currently preparing exploratory letters to a number of individuals to gauge interest in running in 2012. These letters would go to 1. former candidates for President and VP on the Green Party ticket, 2. former candidates who sought the nomination and received votes at a Green Presidential Nominating Convention. Furthermore, additional Exploratory letters may go out to present and past Green Party candidates and office holders or other regional and national level leaders.

The purpose of this post is to entertain discussion on potential 2012 candidates. In order to “fuel the fire”, below are a list of names for consideration and discussion. As far as I know none of these individuals have been asked to run, and as far as I know none have indicated a desire to run.

Past Candidates for President or VP:

  • Ralph Nader (1996, 2000)
  • David Cobb (2004)
  • Cynthia McKinney (2008)
  • Winona LaDuke (1996, 2000)
  • Pat LaMarche (2004)
  • Rosa Clemente (2008)

Past Candidates who sought the nomination (with support):

  • Jello Biafra (2000)
  • Stepen Gaskin (2000)
  • Kent Mesplay (2004, 2008)
  • JoAnn Beeman (2004)
  • Jesse Johnson (2008)
  • kat swift (2008)

Other Candidates and Office Holders (this list is off the top of my head, not based on any other)

  • Rich Whitney
  • Laura Wells
  • LeAlan Jones
  • Tom Clements
  • John Eder
  • Ben Manski
  • Rebekah Kennedy
  • Medea Benjamin
  • Howie Hawkins
  • Matt Gonzalez

Other Individuals (again, a list off the top of my head, with respect to comments on previous posts):

  • Cindy Sheehan
  • Kathy Kelly
  • Margaret Flowers
  • Van Jones
  • Barbara Ehrenreich
  • Amy Goodman
  • Woody Harrelson
  • Jim Hightower
  • Russ Feingold

Ronald Hardy


  1. Yes, Matt Gonzalez should be at least part of the discussion. I’m going to add him to that list above.

  2. I think Cynthia McKinney, Cindy Sheehan, Ann Wright, Ralph Nader are all wonderful Candidates, but they should run with STEWART RHODES of the Oathkeepers.org.

    Why? Start by reading the LAST of the 10 Orders they will NOT obey. Thank you.

    Click here to read full length version.
    1. We will NOT obey orders to disarm the American people.
    2. We will NOT obey orders to conduct warrantless searches of the American people
    3. We will NOT obey orders to detain American citizens as “unlawful enemy combatants” or to subject them to military tribunal.
    4. We will NOT obey orders to impose martial law or a “state of emergency” on a state.
    5. We will NOT obey orders to invade and subjugate any state that asserts its sovereignty.
    6. We will NOT obey any order to blockade American cities, thus turning them into giant concentration camps.
    7. We will NOT obey any order to force American citizens into any form of detention camps under any pretext.
    8. We will NOT obey orders to assist or support the use of any foreign troops on U.S. soil against the American people to “keep the peace” or to “maintain control.”
    9. We will NOT obey any orders to confiscate the property of the American people, including food and other essential supplies.
    10.We will NOT obey any orders which infringe on the right of the people to free speech, to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government for a redress of grievances.

  3. I like the following:
    Cynthia McKinney
    Farheen Hakeem
    Amy Goodman
    Winona LaDuke
    Medea Benjamin

    I am not enthusiastic at all about Ralph Nader. I like his ideas, but he comes off as a bit of an egoist. Farheen and Cynthia already have experience running for major offices. I fully support their takes on the Green Party platform. As an activist, Medea has taken on a variety of issues and has earned herself some recognition. I haven’t seen Winona receive as much media attention, but I feel that she would be sensitive, perhaps, to certain land issues. Amy Goodman has earned much respect from a very large and diverse crowd, has much visibility, knows what it takes to raise funds, and seems to possess a charisma of leadership. And, so far, I trust what seems to be her platform, based on the issues that she covers on Democracy Now.

  4. A good candidate for the Green Party presidency should be:

    A powerful speaker
    A Great Writer
    Someone who is in it to win
    Someone consistent
    Holds Green Principles, obviously

    As far as I know, Ralph Nader is pretty consistent with this list.
    But with the current fragmentation of the GP, I doubt he would get the ticket.

  5. Someone mentioned him, but Noam Chomsky would be another good addition.

    Kucinich…would run for a Democratic Nomination. If he was to get that, then for once, I would be happy with Democratic leadership.

  6. Stewart Alexander, the 2008 SPUSA VP nominee (and other runs through the years), has already came out and said he is running for the nomination. He is seeking the Green and SPUSA nominations for 2012. Here’s a page: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=144510695581673

    I don’t know about Kucinich. There is a chance that if he lost his district to redistricting he might run as a Green for congress rather than face a bloody primary with, say, Marcia Fudge. Republicans would rather get rid of a progressive Dem than create another safe Republican. He’s already said that he isn’t planning on running but a lot can change between here and then.

    I’d rather have Nader BEAT Lieberman in 2012 than run for President.

    Personally, I’m not keen on McKinney again. I’d rather she try to get elected at the state or local level in 2012.

    Now that Feingold is out of the Senate…He might be a possible nominee.

  7. Running a candidate for pres/vp is a big decision. That person will “become” the green party for many potential new supporters.

    That person should be able to articulate a positive, progressive message based on the Green Party’s Ten Key values. They should also be comfortable with speaking in public, working with the media, and embracing social media most of all.

    Ideally, the candidate would be someone from within the green party. I strongly counsel against “celebrity outsiders” like Nader/Medea Benjamin, etc. While they take principled stands on the issues – they are not part of the party.

    Building the party should be job #1 for the candidate and vp candidate.

  8. The best candidate would be someone who can articulate the Green platform for a mass audience, and is willing to run a vibrant campaign that will gain maximum exposure for the Green Party and build local and state chapters. We should definitely consider Green candidates that have previously run exceptional campaigns, but we should also recognize that a candidate with existing name recognition would almost certainly get us more attention and more votes. That said, I doubt that politicians who are still in the Democratic Party fold would defect, and I fear that even if we did persuade Dennis Kucinich to run as a Green, he would be susceptible to pressure to drop out. As for media figures like Amy Goodman, I doubt that she would give up her career and non-partisan image for a political campaign. Maybe Bill Moyers?

    Another name I think should be in the mix is Mike Gravel. He’s already endorsed a number of Greens, he has held elected office and done some great things (like ending the draft after Vietnam), he has good name recognition and media appeal, and his stands on the issues are very close to ours already:

    Whoever the candidate is, I hope that they will run on a Green New Deal platform emphasizing solutions to the two great crises we face: the Great Recession and the Climate Crisis.

    As for past candidates like Nader and McKinney, I’d love to see Nader run against Lieberman and McKinney run for Congress as a Green. We also need to get our act together in finding a viable candidate (Matt Gonzalez?) to challenge Nancy Pelosi, as well as other progressive districts that are misrepresented by corporatist, militarist Democrats.

  9. Please add Jared Ball – he ran in 2008 http://www.voxunion.com/?p=207. Also Lynne Williams (Maine) and Anita Rios (Ohio) – both experienced campaigners who would be great candidates. Rosa Clemente was the Green Party candidate for Vice President in 2008 and would be a fantastic presidential candidate – Ann

  10. I know Anita and she would be a great candidate (as she was as our liet. Gov. candidate in Ohio in ’06 and ’10).

    One thing that I am concerned about is that members of minor parties actually work for a living and aren’t career politicians (or have the cash to hire a huge campaign operatus). Running for president takes a lot of travel time. Maybe we are looking at this wrong. If we would have 435 Green U.S. House candidates that could speak on the top ticket’s behalf publically that would go a loooong way.

    Mike Gravel said he ended his political career after failing at the Libertarian nomination. He may be a key speaker for Greens in 2012, though. And we need more speakers…

  11. I would like to see Woody Harrelson run for State Senate or Congress. People will become interested.

    Here in California, we will begin a massive campaign to register 100,000 new greens. Maybe some of you guys would like to come out here and help out. We definitely need help in some winnable districts. IMO, we should focus just a tad more on the winnable districts and use our limited resources wisely.

  12. @ Dave

    Great to see your comment on here! Having left Facebook, I have missed seeing your posts and insights.

    I would be very interested in contacting Matt again about running against Pelosi (could try to work with the SF-Greens again).

    Gravel would be awesome, but I think he has resigned to doing endorsements. So we could try to get a public endorsement of our candidate from him in 2012 (which could help a lot).

    @Vaughn – Nader could beat Lieberman, I would love to see that! That is exactly where I think he’d be most productive and it’d clear the road for our candidate to be the Progressive Candidate for President. I contacted the CT-Greens about whether they plan on asking him to run again…haven’t heard back.

  13. It really astounds me there’s Greens who really want to recruit Bloomberg to their party…aye…

  14. Do potential Green presidential candidates campaign in 2011, way before 2012? or is that really difficult due to the nature of limited money used for campaigning?

    Also, do we strategically go for votes in Iowa early like everyone else?

  15. I think that a Mike Gravel run would be great. I’m a new Green moving into this party from the Democrats, and finding a lot more things at home here ;) Once you accept that neither of the big two are really different , it becomes a lot easier to jump over to a party that represents you fully.

    McKinney could be interesting, but what would be really handy would be some big name endorsements. It’d be nice if we could get an Al Gore or similar to endorse a green on a climate policy.

  16. These names are all great. Pick your favorite and imagine that this person called you and said they were interested in running for the Green Party nomination, but wanted you to convince them they should. What are the top three reasons a person should campaign for and accept a nomination from the Green Party?

    (Not reasons why they should run for office at all or continue to be an advocate for our values and issues, but reasons why they should accept a Green Party nomination as opposed to running as an independent or with another party.)

  17. @ Dave: Gravel would be great in either Primary. Image him running in the Primary against Obama then endorsing the Green Ticket in the General. I personally think competition in our Primary is a good thing, I just personally think we have enough to work on otherwise to keep the majority of us busy. (Okay, I have a bunch of stuff to work on to keep me busy).

    @Eddie: Not really.

    @Jarrod: I highly doubt Gore will ever support a Green.

    Re: Bloomberg: Yeah, I “get it” but don’t concur.

  18. Well, I highly doubt Gore ever wants to play politics again.

    Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between the ‘eco’ democrats who follow Gore, and the various eco policies of the various green parties. If we’re going to bond together behind a single candidate for the president, it would be in our interest to have a mainstream eco warrior to endorse him.

    Global climate change is going to be increasing as an issue as the earth warms up and the requisite effects occur. It’s clear that the democrats are not going to ever take it seriously. Gore still does take it seriously, and therefore if he’s serious, he’s going to have to align himself with potential policy makers that do take it seriously. That alignment could bring a number of people along for the ride.

    It’s important for us to align ourselves and own the eco argument and position. As the planet continues warming and things start happening, an “I told you so” role would be helpful in influencing people to the Green Party, and hopefully turning things around before they hit that point where we lose millions of people.

  19. Here in Los Angeles, Cynthia Mckinney will be speaking tomorrow at some sort of debate. We will try to register people Green.

  20. I’m hearing Bernie Sanders’ name mentioned, and one or more of those suggestions sent to GPUS. Progressives of all stripes are going to try to recruit him, and I’m betting there will be a push to get him to run in the Democratic caucuses/primaries (à la Kucincih in 2004 and 2008). I’m also betting he won’t.

    At the very least, the Green Presidential Campaign Support Committee should send him their Invitation. him. As a progressive, independent/third party politician, does he have less to lose by running on a third party ticket? Kucinich played a valuable role for the Democratic Party, with his Invitation to the Big Tent. Could Sanders draw some credibility for down-ticket “alternatives?”

    Although,- my sense is that the top-ticket Green race will be of fading interest for some time. My wish is to have a candidate who can give a credible boost to down-ticket Greens, with a decent-size increase in elected Greens in 2012. And quantity counts, if it’s mostly dirt commissions, so be it. That would be real progress.

  21. I would like to see the Green Party nominate a presidential ticket with candidates who can really articulate critical issues like overpopulation/overconsumption, sustainable economics, peak oil, global climate change, US imperialism, etc. I’m more concerned with the candidates’ message and how well they articulate it, rather than name recognition.

    Having said that, though, I’m impressed with Winona LaDuke and I like Cynthia McKinney. I’d like to see William Blum or Michael Parenti under consideration for vice president or something like a “Shadow Secretary of State.” Richard Heinberg is good on the peal oil issue.

    I was one of 17 people in Colorado who voted for Mike Gravel in the 2008 Democratic presidential caucus (before switching my registration back to the Green Party the following day). I think Gravel could be a good choice for VP.

  22. What about getting celebrities to “endorse” the Green party. There were SOOO many at the Progressives 100th anniversary party. Why don’t they stand up for the Greens the way other celebrities stand up for the Republicans?

    The Progressive magazine is thrilled to be holding a conference celebrating its 100th anniversary entitled “The Progressive Movement, Then and Now,” May 1-2, at Monona Terrace.

    Prominent figures from around the country will be speaking, including: Robert Redford (Honorary Chair), Howard Zinn, Amy Goodman, Jesse Jackson, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Cindy Sheehan, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, Robert McChesney, Terry Tempest Williams, and former Senator George McGovern.

    Elected officials in Wisconsin will also be well represented. Speakers include: Sen. Russ Feingold, Rep. Tammy Baldwin, Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton, Rep. Mark Pocan, State Sen. Fred Risser, State Sen. Mark Miller, Mayor Dave, Dane County Exec Kathleen Falk, City Council member Marcia Rummel, and Former Mayor Paul Soglin. And Madison’s own Michael Feldman, Dave Zweifel, John Nichols, and Ed Garvey will also be throwing in their two cents.

  23. Show me the Money! The best message in the world means little in politics if you can’t afford to reach the voters.

    In 2008 former congresswomen McKinney raised $240,364

    In 2004 David Cobb raised $493,723 but only about a $100,000 was raised/spent during the campaign the rest was raised/spent after the election on the Ohio recount process (“I want my vote” – campaign).

    ‘It seems to me’ that the party as a whole has sorely neglected the importance of fund raising. Yes it is a drag, and yes it can potentially lead to a compromises of integrity — But it is a necessary Evil. Former Democrats turned Greens cannot count on there funding to follow them (McKinney and others have proven that) .

    What is needed is a candidate who has demonstrated an ability to attract donors to campaigns or causes.

    Several of the individuals mentioned in previous posts fit this mold – sadly most don’t.

    Jill stein (Massachusetts)
    Joe Szwaja (Washington)

  24. Show me the Money! The best message in the world means little in politics if you can’t afford to reach the voters.

    In 2008 former congresswomen McKinney raised $240,364

    In 2004 David Cobb raised $493,723 but only about a $100,000 was raised/spent during the campaign the rest was raised/spent after the election on the Ohio recount process (“I want my vote” – campaign).

    ‘It seems to me’ that the party as a whole has sorely neglected the importance of fund raising. Yes it is a drag, and yes it can potentially lead to a compromises of integrity — But it is a necessary Evil. Former Democrats turned Greens cannot count on there funding to follow them (McKinney and others have proven that) .

    What is needed is a candidate who has demonstrated an ability to attract significant donors to campaigns or causes.

    Several of the individuals mentioned in previous posts fit this mold – sadly most don’t.

    personally I think Jill Stein of Massachusetts would make an excellent candidate. She has proven time and again an ability to raise substantial amount of cash. Yes, in the past her statewide campaigns have received significant public funding but she has always had to raise significant money to qualify for public funding. Steins understanding of the importance of public funding and her experience successfully dealing with public financing requirements, is also a plus. While it is not much she also currently holds the elected position of Town Meeting Member Lexington Precinct 2, in Middlesex County, a position she has held for multiple terms. Stein happens to also be extremely professional and articulate. Lastly professionally she is a Doctor – this would be a welcome break from the lawyer – lawyer – lawyer – politico pattern of the GP presidential nominees.

  25. Van Jones! He’s electable! Most other people on the lists are NOT electable. Please, let’s go with someone you could actually envision in the job of President.

    NOT Sheehan. Not Cynthia McKinney. Way too much baggage for both of them.

  26. Seriously, someone should consider asking Dennis Kucinich if he’d run on the Green Party ticket.
    Russ Feingold would make an interesting choice but I doubt he’d do it.

    The Green Party needs a serious candidate and someone with name recognition. Not someone no could visualize being president.

  27. Hello Greens!

    I have started a Campaign for Cynthia McKinney & Cindy Sheehan 2012. I am not a Green Party Member, but instead have bolstered Green votes here in NY State through my political committee, PEACE PARTY. I care very much that we do not have only two choices and the candidates I am campaigning for are those I hope to see chosen by the Green Party. I believe this to be a STRONG ticket and would love to see these two courgeous women WIN in 2012!

    My concern for the Green Party in terms of WINNING is this: I understand that you will not be announcing your candidate officially until NEXT summer at the Green Party’s National Convention. This does not provide enough time for your candidate, whomever it may be, to generate a large enough following to make the necessary difference in terms of actually winning. If I am wrong, please clarify. Just recently someone informed me that you will be having a primary in January, so that would certainly alter the previous time table, although not as much as would be desirable for fundraising and promotion. I would love to see the Green Party move it’s agenda forward in an effort to make use of the time for the puposes stated above.

    My promotional efforts may be for nought with respect to the Green Party, should you decide to go with Candidates other than McKinney & Sheehan for President and VP respectively, but as they are both on your perspectus of possible candidates (as I see from the article above), there exists the possibility that you will chose them. I hope you do.

    ‘Time waits for no one.’

  28. Let’s all send Dennis Kucinich a post card inviting him to read our platform and consider joining.

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