Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Green Party will Field Candidates for Major Offices in 2006


The Connecticut Green Party is readying itself for a run at some major offices next year, including those of Sen. Joseph Lieberman and Rep. Rob Simmons.

Those who know anything about the Connecticut Greens (and there are very, very few of you) might be surprised to learn that they still exist. The Second Congressional District Watch actually seems a little concerned, calling potential Green candidates "spoilers"--a label familiar to anyone who recalls the 2000 election debacle.

This is giving the Greens a little too much credit. Colin McEnroe came closer to the truth yesterday on his radio show when he called them a bunch of "dweebs". Really. They are. I ought to know: I used to be one.

I won't waste time now boring you with the story of my ups and downs with the Connecticut Greens (I'll bore you with it another time) but I will say this: my experience with them taught me how not to run a political party, and has soured me on the merits of radicalism.

The Greens were (and probably still are) plagued by the chronic infighting that seems to afflict every radical organization. Deeply suspicious of power, the members of the central committee (yes, "central committee." I know, I know...)nonetheless craved it themselves. This meant that the party executives were not trusted by a large part of the central committee, who hampered everything they tried to do in the worst, most obstructionist sorts of ways. To be fair, the executive board had no idea what it was doing, either, and so was unable to respond to attacks made on its members, or even to propose anything productive to do once the gridlock was broken. The rules were constantly being changed, and the committee refused to look at the structure of other parties to see what worked. Also, conversations of the "I did this in the 60s, what about you?" variety took a large chunk of time out of the meetings.

In short, they were completely hopeless. I helped a GP friend of mine in his quixotic campaign for a state house of representatives seat in the 2002 election, but we knew we couldn't count on any help from the state central committee. We were on our own. That's no way to run a party. When tiny points of procedure become more important than actually electing candidates... sheesh.

Well, maybe they're a bit better now. They seem to be having a meeting, I suppose that's a very nice start. But "spoilers"? Nah. Numbers for Green Party candidates are dropping as Democrats drift leftward, and the Greens' noble refusal to accept corporate money means that they're always broke.

In short, a Green candidate in the 2nd District might get 2-3%. Until they show that they can run an effective campaign and actually raise some money, they won't be much of a factor in state politics.


Mann, Ted. Green Party Already Gearing Up For '06. New London Day 30 March 2005. (registration required)


Anonymous said...

Sure, but if Rob Simmons wins by 2 percent, and the green candidate gets 3 percent, that makes him an affective spoiler...


Genghis Conn said...

True. However, silly as they are, they have every right to run.

This just means that the Democratic candidate will have to run an even more convincing campaign.

tkd27 said...

Oh, of course... they have a right to run, I wouldn't try and stop them. But if we have a good candidate, it's always worth trying to appeal to their sense to actually make change and not just make a statement and hope they may bow out. I dunno... we'll see how it goes...

Alyssa Rosenberg said...

I think the one thing that the Green Party has been effective at is pushing the Democratic party to the left on some important issues. Paul Bass, at the New Haven Advocate, wrote a good article about this a while back, at least as it played out in the city. I hope that influence, at least, will be felt in the Governor's race next year. We certainly could use some stronger stances in Hartford on things like the Death's disappointing that the bill to ban it probably won't pass.

Genghis Conn said...


New Haven is a special case. In New Haven, the Greens seem to function much as the Liberal Democrats do in Britain: as the left-wing opposition to the centrist majority (the Democrats). Statewide, the party seems to have very little influence on Democrats, and won't until they can win a race for state office.

If Joyce Chen (fascinating woman) or someone like her could win a seat in the General Assembly, Democrats would take notice. Chen, arguably the most successful Connecticut Green (she's been on New Haven's board of aldermen for four years, I believe), managed 28% of the vote in her unsuccessful race for State Representative, a higher percentage than any other minor party candidate. Still, 28% is 28%. It would have been interesting had she come closer.

It was also true in my time with the party that the New Haven chapter, our most successful local party, had little to no contact with the central committee. If the Greens were better organized, they might find themselves more influential.

I would worry that some Connecticut residents would dismiss ideas the Greens put forth, simply because they are the Greens. Conservatives see Greens as nothing but a fringe group with ties to eco-terrorists. Democrats still bear a grudge against the Greens for 2000.

I would personally like to see the Democrats take up some of the Greens' proposed electoral reforms, such as Instant Runoff Voting and same-day registration. But I fear I may have to wait a long time before they do.

tkd27 said...


I agree about IRV and other green issues. I just really wish the greens would come into our party and try and reform it rather than fighting against us.

And to Alyssa: I could be wrong, but I think that both DeStefano and Bisewitz(spelling?) have come out for the abolition of the death penalty, which is nice to hear :)

Genghis Conn said...


The Greens have an inherent distrust of large organizations, and they feel, with some justification, that the party abandoned its liberal wing during the Clinton Administration. A few of the more moderate Greens may drift back towards the Democrats (indeed, many have), but the real radicals have committed to staying outside the party.

Alyssa Rosenberg said...


Thanks for your comments. I think Joyce Chen is also, unfortunately, not a typical Green; she was the deciding vote against New Haven's Domestic Partnership legislation, and she's anti-choice. I've done a lot of work in her ward specifically in New Haven; I don't think she is the woman to lead the Greens forward to any kind of effective influence in Hartford or elsewhere. What I would hope is that Greens take what's worked in New Haven and push--through campaigns, or lobbying, or whatever--Democrats on the issues elsewhere in the state. I think that if Greens work in progressive coalitions with liberal Democrats and other activists, and do the hard work in community organizing and neighborhood turnout that people will listen to them; issue-based organizing will probably be more effective in this regard than simply running for various offices.

To tkd27, one of the reasons I support Mayor DeStefano so much is his opposition to the death penalty. There have been some good debates over on his campaign blog on this very subject: check it out at

Genghis Conn said...


You raise a very important question about the Greens: are they more a political party or an activist group? The line is not particularly clear, especially given their seemingly uninterested attitude towards actual elections. In fact, a lot of people I knew in the party decided to join activist groups instead of "wasting time" with the Greens.

I didn't know that about Chen. Interesting. Of course, you could argue that Elizabeth Horton Sheff of Hartford was hardly the model Green either. The party lends itself to being used by the ambitious.

ctkeith said...

Joyce Chen was NOT the deciding vote and that argument is rediculous on its face.The vote was indeed one vote short of passage but more than a dozen Dems also voted against it.New Haven politics can get ugly and the effort to smear Joyce Chen while letting all those Dems off scott free is the epitome of an empty argument.