Just a note before I begin. These are just the candidates that I know of from my work in the Green Party and what I can glean online. There are plenty of other strong Green candidates for state offices all over the country. Not to mention, there are tons of strong local Green candidates. You can find Green candidates near you at NewMenu.org.
With these three candidates representing just one part of a group of strong state legislative candidates the Green Party has running across the country this year, the party has a chance to make history. Since its founding, the party has had four state legislators in office, with one of them being the result of a party switch. There’s now a good chance that they could elect that many state legislators in a single election.
1. Ben Manski. Manski is an environmental and democracy advocate running one of the strongest Green campaigns in the nation. He’s widely regarded as a fierce competitor against the Democrat in the race, while Constitution and Republican candidates are also running. He is running for the Wisconsin Assembly in the 77th District, which is in Madison. Manski has racked up an impressive list of endorsements, ranging from local firefighters’ and teachers’ unions to over a dozen current elected officials to statewide figures in the Wisconsin Democratic Party. With a platform that includes support for ending the war on drugs, the creation of a state bank, and only sending the National Guard into combat when a war is authorized by Congress, Manski is impressive not only because of the likelihood of his election, but because of his bold politics.
2. Hugh Giordano. Before the election, I’ll be putting up another post about Giordano, because I’ve been volunteering for his campaign for several months, so I’ll keep it short for now. Hugh is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, and when he’s out knocking on doors he’s a union organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers. He has garnered endorsements from several local unions who have been helping with the campaign, as well as from a former Democratic candidate in the race and former US Senator Mike Gravel. He has billboards up, he’s got signs throughout the districts, and he’s got tons of support, especially in the Roxborough neighborhood, where he’s lived for most of his life.
3. Jeremy Karpen. Karpen is going against the heart of the Chicago machine, a Democratic incumbent whose father is also in government. At one point he actually outraised the Democrat, although that ended once the machine’s corporate interests caught wind of it. Just like Giordano and Manski, he’s been raising an impressive amount of money for a Green and he’s garnered some impressive endorsements, including the Chicago Progressive Democrats of America, a local teachers’ union, the Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Tribune. When I interviewed Phil Huckelberry, a co-chair of the Green Party of Illinois, he insightfully pointed out that having even a single Green in the notorious Illinois legislature would give the body a clear conscience, and it would have the potential to create a movement in the state for clean government.
To me, that is what’s most significant about these campaigns. They reject the corruption and compromises on principle (or lack of principle from the start) that are inherent in the Democratic Party. Hugh Giordano’s opponent likes to say that she would remain independent even while being a Democrat in the legislature, but that’s ridiculous. Without the support of the Democrats, she would be nowhere. Yet Giordano, and all other Greens, can prove that better, more honest politics is possible by winning without the support of any machine.