Green Party fields two candidatesWritten by Caitlin McGlade | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Running for any seat in the Green Party is more like an obstacle course than a race.
First, you need to gather signatures to appear on the ballot. That number depends on what the desired seat is, but for the U.S. Senate election you’d need at least 500. (Major parties need at least 1,000.) If anyone signed a petition in a county where they are not registered, they don’t count. Current and previous addresses rule others out. And if some print their names rather than signing it, their names are disqualified, too.
“What most people don’t realize when you’re a minor party is that every election cycle, you’re under a threat because the two major parties don’t want us to participate,” said Anita Rios, co-chair of the Green Party of Ohio and one of the candidates for U.S. Senate.
She and Bowling Green resident Joe DeMare know this all too well. An active member of the Green Party since the 1980s, DeMare collected 652 signatures but 200 were disqualified. The Lucas County Board of Elections rejected 64 out of the 220 signatures he had collected in Lucas County, often because people printed their names or because their signature did not look like the one on county files.
Having a contested primary is a party-building exercise intended to drum up interest for the party. Rios is not campaigning and said she thinks it might have been best if DeMare ran unopposed. The upcoming election represents one of the first since Secretary of State Jon Husted issued a directive in November allowing the Green Party ballot access.
In 2006, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional laws that made minor parties adhere to harsher to standards to get on the ballot. The Libertarian Party challenged the law again just two years later, after the Ohio General Assembly failed to take action to establish ballot access standards. The Southern District Court in Ohio ruled that the state had to place the Libertarian Party on the 2008 general election ballot for Ohio, according to court records.
This left out the Green Party, but Husted’s directive in November was a green light.
DeMare has since been juggling his job as a machinist at an industrial ceramics plant, networking with Green Party activists in counties across the state and making door-to-door visits. The party relies on grassroots democracy — which means decentralizing — so keeping track of the number of volunteers he has is difficult.
DeMare volunteered for President Barack Obama’s campaign, but he said both major parties are guilty of war and wreaking havoc on the environment. Rios said both parties are guilty of holding down the poor.
“One will tell us to our faces that they don’t care about the poor, but the other doesn’t,” she said. “The Democrats play good cop, bad cop and I’m done with it.”
She’s referencing presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s comments about not worrying about the poor, in comparison to welfare reform that Former Democratic President Bill Clinton oversaw.
DeMare is also frustrated with environmental and war policies. While some Republican primary candidates for the Senate seat are calling to defund the Environmental Protection Agency, DeMare wants tougher restrictions.
“I think that’s insane,” DeMare said, of abolishing the EPA. “At a time when Lake Erie’s $7 billion dollar fishing industry is threatened, the idea that you can get rid of regulations [is insane].”
He and Rios have been vocal opponents of nuclear energy, both organizing people against First Energy’s Davis Besse. DeMare said he also wants to take a stand against activities like online hunting and end nuclear power altogether.
Rios said everyone is responsible for improving the environment, and we could start by riding bicycles. The problem is that city infrastructures across the country tend to make walking or biking unfeasible.
“Try to take a walk in the Westgate area and find the sidewalks,” she said. “Find the sidewalks in Sylvania — they’re not there.”
But DeMare’s No. 1 priority is preventing war in Iran. If he is elected, he said he’d filibuster the senate floor to get politicians to listen. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been taxing enough, he said.
“I don’t care if Iran fills in the Strait of Hormuz with cement, we’re not going down that path again,” he said.
And as for taxes? DeMare couldn’t oppose his Republican counterparts any more. He said he wants to tax billionaires out of existence.
The Green Party hit its peak in 2000 and has since took a dip, but Rios said the party is starting to pick up again. She ran for Toledo City Council against Paula Hicks-Hudson in 2011 and lost with about 29 percent of the vote. She plans to run for another local office soon. She said she’d like to run for county commissioner but she’s not sure what seat she would aim for yet.
One of her major commitments if elected, as it was during her City Council campaign, is to devote part of her salary to interns with the goal to include and educate young people in the political system.
She said the two majors parties hold the spotlights not because of a voter interest in minor parties but because the major networks do not present the alternative voices.
“I don’t think it’s the average American that are the problem,” she said. “I can listen to (news) all day and hear the same stories. You’re going to find the most inane crap and you’ll get a narrow representation.”