Former Arkansas Green legislator loses Democratic primary

From Richard Winger at Ballot Access News:

Arkansas held its primaries on May 18. Richard Carroll was defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary, for State House, 39th district. Carroll had been elected as a Green Party legislator in 2008, but after the 2009 legislative session had ended, he had switched from the Green Party to the Democratic Party. Continue Reading


The Green Flash



May 2, 2009

Volume 1, Number 32

Richard Carroll Switches to Democrats

On Wednesday, April 29, Richard Carroll announced that he will be seeking re-election as a Democrat in 2010. The decision to leave the Green Party for a reelection bid as a Democrat is disappointing, as Richard is a great legislator. However, attacks on Richard, mostly from out of state Greens on e-mail blogs, are out of place in our opinion. Richard had a great session as a first time legislator, and most importantly, as a first time GREEN legislator. We are grateful for the good that he has done for the party, and it will always be true that Richard Carroll’s first victory in Arkansas politics was also the Green Party’s first victory as well.

Richard introduced a bill to allow the voters the opportunity to change the ancient provision in the Arkansas constitution that says that atheists can’t hold public office or give testimony in legal cases. Richard introduced two ballot access bills in the legislature, and he fought hard for those bills. One of the two bills passed the legislature, and as a result the victory, new political parties in Arkansas will have 90 days, instead of only 60 days in which to collect the necessary signatures. Richard introduced a bill that would have required equal time in broadcast debates for all legal candidates. Perhaps most memorably, Richard tried to join the Black Caucus even though he is white.

All of these efforts were popular and widely covered in the press – and in every story on Richard Carroll, the Green Party was credited with having Richard as our first victory in the legislature. Richard has helped the Green Party of Arkansas tremendously and we are sorry to see him go, but we wish him well.

GPA Needs $10,000 + 5,000 Volunteer Gathered Signatures

The GPA’s fundraising drive continues, having received another $100 donation last week. Fundraising is absolutely necessary for a political party, there simply is no other way for a party to survive in modern America. GPA’s, strength has been that we are a self-funded political party. We now must work on fundraising on a steady basis in order to be ready to have candidates in the 2010 election. We must raise at least $10,000 and in addition we must have a number of volunteers that will commit to and carry through on gathering at least 5,000 signatures. This is not an impossible task by any means, but it must be done. Please consider donating a minimum of $100 to the Green Party’s ballot access effort, and also, decide to gather a given amount of signatures. By the efforts of our own organization, we put candidates on the ballot and make changes in the politics of our state.

Organizing Meeting to be Held in Independence County May 23

There will be an organizing meeting held Saturday, May 23, at 2:00 pm in Batesville on the campus of Lyon College. A Green Party supporter in Independence County, Ken Adler, is helping to plan the meeting and will be inviting people from Batesville and the surrounding area to the meeting. Greens from outside the county are invited to attend.


There will be a meeting of the Green Party of Washington County on Wednesday, May 13, at the Fayetteville public library at 6:30 pm.


Donate to the Green Party of Arkansas!

YES! I will support the GPA with a donation of $10 _____ $25_____ $50 ______ $100 ______ or write in your own amount $________.

YES! I will be a sustainer of the GPA with a regular monthly donation of $10 _____ $25_____

$50 ______ $100 ______ or write in your own amount $________.

Mail cash, or check (made out to the Green Party of Arkansas) to (GPA Treasurer)

Mark Jenkins
3610 Lilac Terrace
Little Rock, AR 72202


More coverage of Carroll party change

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette carries a detailed report by Michael R. Wickline, and includes this

“Richard Carroll is a progressive,” Swaney said. “The Democratic Party in Arkansas might as well be Republican. We have a very conservative regressive [Democratic] party in Arkansas. That’s the main reason there is a Green Party in the state.”

Swaney is the state party’s spokesperson.

The North Little Rock News carried an article by John Lyon, which the site says will be updated as new details become available.


Arkansas Greens discuss Richard Carroll

In an hour long conversation with Mark Swaney, press secretary for the Green Party of Arkansas, I discussed the state party’s perceptions of Richard Carroll’s decision to leave the Green Party, the history of the state party, and their plans for the future. I did not take notes during the conversation, so what you will read here are my recollections, not quotes. I hope that members of the Arkansas GP will correct any errors they may find.

Swaney said that the Arkansas Greens were hurt by Carroll’s decision to leave the Green Party. In what I believe was the most revealing comment, Swaney said that the state party would not have been so hurt if Carroll had done a poor job in the legislature. Because he did what the Arkansas Greens believed was an outstanding job in the legislature, his leaving was especially difficult. Had he been a failure or done nothing but draw a paycheck, losing him would have been unimportant. Having a member of the legislature was not the point. Having an effective legislator was the point.

Swaney also said that the state party was somewhat surprised at his decision, but that they had known that a change in party membership was a possibility. The Arkansas Greens had believed that Carroll was so offended by the behavior of the Democratic Party in leading him to believe that they supported his proposals to expand ballot access, while they worked to kill the proposals behind his back, that he would remain in the party and help build it.

The possibility that Carroll will find the Democratic Party a yolk around his neck gives Swaney and the Arkansas Greens hope that he may, some day, return to the Green Party. They are not pinning anything on that possibility, and are moving forward with their existing plans to gather the needed signatures to again secure ballot status. Because Cynthia McKinney did not reach 3% in her race for President, they must gather tens of thousands of signatures to again have the opportunity to run for office.

Swaney said that Arkansas has the highest percentage of unchallenged elections in the nation, with 70% of candidates appearing on the ballot alone. Even though the Democratic and Republican parties are unwilling to run against one another, the legislature has established laws that make it extremely costly to remain on the ballot for a party that is willing to run candidates.

The Green Party of Arkansas state membership meets quarterly, and has not missed a meeting for more than a dozen years. There are close to 10 local chapters, and the party has run close to 20 different candidates for a wide range of offices. They have won two lawsuits, and as Swaney described it, are tough and resilient. They have no plans to curl up and die because Carroll has left.

The one area where Carroll differed with the Green Party platform was on abortion, where Carroll’s Roman Catholic faith carried the day. As was noted in an earlier comment by Eric Prindle, Carroll’s responses to a questionnaire by Project Vote Smart can be found here. Even with this difference, Swaney believes that Carroll’s politics are closer to the Green Party’s than the Democrat’s, especially in Arkansas, where they are described as Dixiecrats, with positions closer to the national Republican Party than even the Democrats. As an example, Swaney pointed out that the legislature is 70% Democratic, all the state-wide offices are filled by Democrats, all but one member of the federal House of Representatives is a Democrat, and yet the state went to McCain.

The bottom line of the conversation is, – We’re hurt that he did not stay with us and build the party. We are organizing to retain ballot access. The future demands a party like the Green Party. Arkansans are a tough bunch. We stick together, and we will find nooks and crannies where we can get a fingerhold, and grow by our own efforts. We wish Richard Carroll the best, and will be here if he gets tired of being told what to do by people who don’t share his values.


Richard Carroll jumps ship, joins Democrats

Richard Carroll, the only Green currently in a state legislature, has announced that he plans to leave the Green Party to become a member of the Democratic Party. The Associated Press has an article here and IPR has one one here. In addition there are articles at WXVT, Arkansas News, and The Arkansas Project.

GPW will attempt to reach Arkansas Green Party leaders and report more as more comes in.


Green News Round-up

The Green Party of Pennsylvania has issued a call for the head of Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to resign. As reported at Independent Political Report, Secretary John Hanger is supporting environmentally damaging practices for the money and jobs it would bring to Pennsylvania, among other reasons.

Arkansas Business is reporting that Arkansas Green Richard Carroll’s bill to require public facilities to include all ballot qualified candidates in any debates has died in committee, with two Democrats voting “present” rather than take a stand.

Over in Illinois, the News-Gazette is reporting that the Urbana City Clerk put the Democratic candidates at the top of the ballot, followed by the Republicans, with the Green Party bringing in the last place. State law requires a lottery be held to choose ballot order, but the City Clerk did not follow the law. In another article on the same topic, the Republican candidate appears ready to go to court to have the law enforced. In reply the incumbent mayor is reported to have said

“The city clerk does not want to disenfranchise people by changing the election,” Prussing said. “These people should go to court. In order to change something, you have to show you’ve been injured … Let him (Kruse) convince a judge he’s been injured. Let him spend all the money.

This article explains that the Green nominee joined the law suit.

And, finally, this article explains that the city of Urbana made the decision to go ahead and hold the state mandated lottery to determine ballot placement. The lottery will be held tomorrow at 10AM.

The Yale Daily News is reporting that Green incumbent Ward 10 Alderman Allan Brison will face opposition in his campaign for re-election in New Haven from Justin Elicker. The election will be held in November.

The Sun-Gazette of Arlington, VA reported that

The Arlington Green Party is expected to field John Reeder as its County Board candidate this year. Reeder challenged Democrat Barbara Favola last November, winning about a quarter of the votes.


Arkansas Green in the news

Green Party state legislator Richard Carroll has been in the news. WREG reports

One of the bills would require anyone who has been certified to appear on the ballot to be allowed to participate in election debates that take place at a site that receives public funds.

The other measure, which failed by one vote, would have made it easier for third-party candidates to be included on the ballot.

H/T to Morgan Brykein at Independent Political Report.

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Greens in the news

In a Press Release, the Green Party of the United States called the decision to include two supporters of single payer health care in the circle of experts at a White House health care policy summit a “modest but important victory for universal health care.”

On Thursday morning, Green Party members learned that the White House had relented after receiving numerous complaints, and invited two Single-payer advocates: Dr. Oliver Fein, president of Physicians for a National Health Program and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), the author and main sponsor of HR 676, legislation for Single-payer program.

Earlier the Green Party had issued a press release calling for widespread protest of the exclusion of these voices.

The St.Petersburg Times reports on the decision in favor of the Florida Green Party in the case of the “Florida Five”.

Ross Levin, a commentator here and reporter at Independent Political Report, has added the website Op Ed News to his collection of outlets with an article about the Reverend Billy’s campaign for mayor of New York City. Downtown Express covers the good Reverend as well. There is also a piece at MSNBC and also at New York Daily News. The New York Times covered his bid, as did The Hook.

Arkansas Green Richard Carroll has introduced legislation that, according to WXTV, will require inclusion of all ballot qualified candidates in debates held at facilities which receive public money.

The Minnesota Independent reports on Cam Gordon’s campaign for re-election to the Minneapolis City Council. According to the article, Gordon may be one incumbent Green without much major party opposition in his race.


Richard Carroll Denied Membership in Black Caucus

Richard Carroll, the Green Party’s only state legislator in Arkansas, sought to join the state legislature’s Black Caucus and was denied. From an editorial in the Feb. 13 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette:

It’s not easy being Green, but white’s harder if you want to be a member of the Legislature’s Black Caucus.

OK, so the wordplay is a little lame. So is state Rep. Joyce Elliott’s suggestion that discrimination on account of race is OK when the perpetrators are black and the victim is white. And she a Democrat, too.

Actually, “lame” is the kindest thing that could be said about it.

Here’s the deal. Rep. Richard Carroll is the Arkansas General Assembly’s only Green Party member. He is white, but his wife is black and he represents a predominantly black district in North Little Rock. Recently, he asked to join the Legislature’s Black Caucus because, he said, he wanted to better represent and understand the views of his constituents.

The caucus said no. Carroll is welcome to attend the group’s meetings and even voice his opinions, but he won’t be allowed a vote there.

The high-minded Elliott, whose many honors include recognition from the ACLU as a great civil libertarian, patiently-and nonsensically-explained to a reporter that “all discrimination is not bad. You can discriminate about whether you are going to drink four beers or 10 beers. I would say that’s good discrimination.” She went on to claim that excluding white lawmakers is a legitimate form of discrimination because black legislators need to join with others of “common cause.” Never mind that Carroll’s district was found to be 65 percent black in the last census.


Profile Of Richard Carroll – Green Legislator

Richard Carroll’s election to the Arkansas State Legislature is an amazing story, but Carroll himself is an amazing story. The Arkansas Times profiled Carroll, who works at night as a boiler maker, and by day as a state legislator. He represents a predominantly african-american district in Little Rock, he has two children and an african-american wife:

With his silver hair, sunglasses, and crisp black suit, Richard Carroll certainly looks the part of a state legislator. A resident of the Baring Cross neighborhood near Fort Roots in North Little Rock, Carroll was elected on the Green Party ticket to represent District 39 back in November, winning more than 80 percent of the vote. Currently, he’s the highest-ranking Green in the United States.

Though he cleans up well, his button-down work as a legislator is a far cry from what he really does for a living: a dirty, dangerous job as a boilermaker for the Union Pacific Railroad, Thanks to what he calls his very “civic minded” employer, Carroll has been allowed to work the night shift at the Union Pacific yards in North Little Rock part time so he can come to the legislature during the day. From 11 p.m. to around 3 in the morning, he helps rebuild locomotives that have been damaged in derailments and accidents. He catches a few catnaps before and after work, and sleeps a lot on weekends. “I get a couple hours sleep before I go in to the Capitol,” he said. “I may stay until 7 o’clock, go home, get a couple more hours sleep, then go to work.”
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