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The Green Party takes a fall
The Green Party took an even harder fall. Despite pleas from Green Party activists to run for legislative seats in the urban areas, the majority wanted to run a traditional statewide campaign with no resources. Ken Pentel and Michael Cavlan, running for governor and the U.S. Senate, each received about 11,000 votes. Music star Papa John Kolstad and Dave Berger, running for Attorney General and State Auditor, each received nearly 50,000 votes or 2 percent. That was far short of the 5 percent needed to restore major party status, and half of what Berger got for Auditor in 2002.
It now seems apparent the crest of the Green Party was the Nader campaign.
In 1994, The Minnesota Grassroots Party, running a statewide slate, received just under 5 percent of the vote in three statewide races. The Grassroots Party’s main issue was legalizing marijuana. The few hardcore activists stretched from socialists to libertarians and anarchists. The left looked down on the “infant weed” party but their statewide appeal was twice what the Green Party currently holds.
Clearly the other big loser was Mike Hatch. He was defeated despite a DFL sweep in the state house and senate and all other constitutional offices. The DFL hierarchy insisted on putting up a polarizing figure. Former Minneapolis Police Chief Tony Bouza once ran against Hatch for the DFL nomination for governor. He said, “Hatch had no principles and would say anything to get elected.” Mayor R.T. Rybak, Bouza’s campaign manager in 1994, said back then Hatch ran on a scorch-and-burn strategy. In this election Rybak supported Hatch—because of Pawlenty’s cuts to cities and local government aid.
This was Hatch’s third run for governor. In 1990 he ran as pro-choice on abortion, in 1994 he switched to an anti-abortion stance and received the endorsement of the Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life (MCCL)—the state’s top anti-abortion lobby. In this race he again aligned with the pro-choice community. Most DFLers embraced him despite his flawed personality. At a recent major fundraiser for Keith Ellison I saw one Hatch button. The DFL majorities must immediately restore local aid to cities and counties.
Locally, Keith Ellison won with 56 percent. He was aggressively opposed by racist Republican Alan Fine and renegade Democrat Tammy Lee, running on the Independence line. Lee had both the support of the gay magazine Lavender and past homophobic Minneapolis City Council Member Dennis Schulstad. The “anybody but Keith Ellison” crowd tried to link Ellison to the Nation of Islam.
Ellison is about to embark on a trip to Israel with State Representative Frank Hornstein. The Peace Movement should ask Ellison to also visit the occupied territories and meet with Palestinian officials. We need to press him to be a peace activist now that the messy campaign is behind him.
Peace activists need to press Amy Klobuchar and not just give her a free pass to Washington. We could organize mass peace hearings—like the ones following Wellstone’s victory in 1990.
Nationally, the Democratic victory was nothing approaching the rout Republicans suffered in 1974 after Nixon’s resignation.
Their one-vote majority will hold if renegade pro-war Democrat Joe Lieberman caucuses with them as he has promised. In the House they hold a 15-vote majority but their caucus contains 30 blue dog Democrats. The blue dogs have given Bush everything he wanted, from the war to the tax cuts.
If the Democrats do not act decisively, watch again for a rise in the third party movement. The people’s movements for peace, environmental protection and single-payer health care must press their agendas. Only a mass movement can press politicians to do the right thing.
© 2006 Pulse of the Twin Cities