Green Party of the United States

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Green Party


Country the United States
Headquarters 1623 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. 2009

One of the political parties in the United States, and similar in mission to many of the worldwide Green Parties, the Greens have been active as a third party since 2001. The party first gained widespread public attention during Ralph Nader's presidential runs in 1996 and 2000. Currently, the primary national Green Party organization in the U.S. is the Green Party of the United States, which has eclipsed the earlier Greens/Green Party USA.

The Green Party in the United States has won elected office mostly at the local level; most winners of public office in the United States who are considered Greens have won nonpartisan-ballot elections (that is, the winning Greens won offices in elections in which candidates were not identified on the ballot as affiliated with any political party).[1] The highest-ranking Greens ever elected in the nation were John Eder, who was a member of the Maine House of Representatives until his defeat on November 7, 2006, and Audie Bock, who was elected to the California State Assembly in 1999 but switched her registration to Independent seven months later[2] running as an independent in the 2000 election.[3] In 2005, the Party had 305,000 registered members in states that allow party registration, as well as tens of thousands of members and contributors in the rest of the country.[4] During the 2006 elections the party had ballot access in 31 states.[5]

Greens emphasize environmentalism, non-hierarchical participatory democracy, social justice, respect for diversity, peace and nonviolence.



Early years

What began as the decentralized Green Committees of Correspondence[6] evolved into a more centralized structure with a more traditional emphasis on electoral campaigns. Before the formation of a national party, early Greens were committed to an emphasis on educational projects and non-partisan activism. The idea of an "anti-party party" was formed by Petra Kelly and other leaders of Die Grünen in Germany.[7] Their vision was a non-traditional organization in which electoralism would be the least important of the three components. However, in the United States the opportunity for ballot access, and the attention given to electoral campaigns, became too irresistible. A struggle for the direction of the organization culminated at the 1991 Green Congress in Elkins, West Virginia -- during which those who favored an emphasis on electoral politics began to consolidate power -- primarily through sheer numbers.

1996 Presidential Election

At the 1995 national Green Gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico, hosted by the New Mexico Green Party, a measure proposed by Steve Schmidt (New Mexico) and Mike Feinstein and Greg Jan (California) to put a candidate for president on 40 states was adopted. A significant minority of Greens voiced strong ideological objections (based on the principle of decentralization) to the proposal to become involved in such a large-scale political arena for the first time.[8] Those who wished to run a candidate for president continued to pursue the possibility. Working within their state parties, as well as through an independent organization called Third Parties 1995, they convinced Ralph Nader to accept placement on the Green Party of California's March 1996 primary ballot. Eventually he accepted placement on more ballots, but ran a limited campaign with a self-imposed campaign spending limit of $5,000 (to avoid having to file a financial statement with the FEC). He chose Winona LaDuke as his vice-presidential candidate. A convention was held at UCLA in Los Angeles in August 1996 where each state party who placed Nader on the ballot told their story, followed by a two hour and twenty minute acceptance speech by Nader that was broadcast on C-SPAN and Pacifica Radio - the first time Greens in the U.S. had that kind of national exposure. Nader/LaDuke were on the ballot in twenty-two states and received 685,297 votes, or 0.7% of all votes cast.[9]


In the aftermath of the 1996 election, representatives from thirteen state Green Parties joined the Association of State Green Parties (ASGP), an idea promulgated since the early nineties by a small group of active greens. The ASGP, while still including issue activism and non-electoral politics, was clearly more focused on getting Greens elected. In the years from 1997 to 1999, more local, regional, and statewide Green parties continued to form. Some of these parties affiliated themselves with both the ASGP and kept their affiliations with the G/GPUSA.

2000 Presidential Election

Ralph Nader, 1996 and 2000 nominee
In the year 2000, the ASGP nominated Ralph Nader and Winona LaDuke for president and vice-president again. This time, the pair were on 44 state ballots and received 2,883,105 votes, or 2.7% of all votes cast[10]. Nader's strong showing in several states solidified the changes in the Green Party from an "anti-party party" to an organization primarily dedicated to electoral campaigns. In particular, that was the widespread understanding of thousands of recruits to the party, as it went through an unprecedented rate of growth.

In October of 2000 (during the campaign), a proposal was made to alter the structures of the ASGP and G/GPUSA to be complementary organizations with the ASGP focusing on electoral politics and the G/GPUSA focusing on issue advocacy. The Boston Proposal (so named because it was negotiated at Boston in the days before the first presidential debate)[11] was passed by the ASGP at its next annual gathering, but did not pass at the GPUSA Congress, causing a schism in membership among the GPUSA from which they never recovered. At its July 2001 meeting in Santa Barbara, the ASGP voted to change its name to "The Green Party of the United States" and apply for recognition of National Committee status by the FEC, which it was granted later that year.

Nader has been criticized for being a spoiler candidate or having "stolen the election" from Al Gore, the Democratic Party nominee. This criticism has largely put Nader's supporters on the defensive on this issue, citing both rights based arguments, for example, that no one owns anyone's votes and so Nader no more spoiled the election for Gore than Gore spoiled it for Nader, as well as practical arguments, such as citing that the number of states that Buchanan "spoiled" for Bush would have resulted in a Bush victory if neither Buchanan nor Nader had participated. Nader's role in the 2000 presidential election would have consequences for the 2004 election, when supporters of David Cobb favored a limited role for the Green Party presidential candidate.


In 2002, John Eder's election to the Maine House of Representatives marked the first Green Party state legislator in the United States elected in a regular election. (Audie Bock had won a special election as a state legislator in the California Assembly, but left the party and eventually became a Democrat.) John Eder's party designation on the ballot in 2002 was "Green Independent." Eder was personally congratulated by Ralph Nader on election night. In 2004, despite redistricting in Maine that threatened to unseat Eder, he nevertheless won re-election.

In the Summer of 2003, as the 2004 elections loomed, Greens began an often-heated debate on party presidential strategy. Democrats, liberal activists, and liberal journalists were counseling and pressuring the Green Party and Ralph Nader not to run a presidential ticket. In response, a diverse cross-section of U.S. Greens issued "Green & Growing: 2004 in Perspective" a statement initiated by national party Green Party of the United States co-chair Ben Manski. "Green & Growing"'s 158 signatories declared that "We think it essential to build a vigorous presidential campaign," citing as their chief reasons the need to gain ballot access for the Green Party, to define the Greens as an independent party, and the failures of the Democrats on issues of foreign and domestic policy.[12] Other Greens, most prominently Ted Glick in his "A Green Party Safe States Strategy", called on the party to adopt a strategy of avoiding swing states in the upcoming presidential election.[13] A third, intermediate "smart states" position was drafted by Dean Myerson and adopted by David Cobb, advocating a "nuanced" state-by-state strategy based on ballot access, party development, swing state, and other concerns.

2004 Presidential Election

In the 2004 presidential election, the candidate of the Green Party of the United States for President was Texas attorney and GPUS legal counsel David Cobb, and its candidate for vice-president was labor activist Pat LaMarche of Maine.

On Christmas Eve 2003, Ralph Nader declared that he would not seek the Green Party's nomination for president in 2004, and in February 2004 announced his intention to run as an independent, but later did decide to seek endorsement (rather than the nomination) of the Green Party, and other third parties. Several Greens, most notably Peter Camejo, as well as Lorna Salzman and others, endorsed this plan (Camejo would later accept a position as Nader's vice-presidential running-mate) (see Nomination controversy, below).

The Cobb-LaMarche ticket in 2004 appeared on 28 of the 51 ballots around the country, down from the Greens' 44 in 2000; the Nader-Camejo ticket in 2004 appeared on 35 ballots. In 2004, Cobb was on the ballot in California (and Nader was not), whereas Nader was on the ballot in New York (and Cobb was not). Political strategists with the Democratic Party used aggressive legalistic tactics to remove Nader and Cobb's names from the ballots.

The voting results from the 2004 presidential election were considerably less impressive than the results of the Green Party's Nader-LaDuke presidential ticket in 2000, which had garnered more than 2,882,000 votes. In 2004, running in most states as an independent (but with high-profile Green Party activist Peter Camejo as his running mate), Ralph Nader received 465,650 votes; the Green Party's 2004 nominees, David Cobb and Patricia LaMarche, mustered 119,859 votes. Some Greens were not discouraged by the relatively low presidential vote yield in 2004 for Cobb and for Nader, because the Green Party continued to grow in many parts of the country, increasing Green Party affiliation numbers and fielding Green candidates for congressional, state, and local offices.reference required

However, the number of registered Greens declined by about 23,000 between January 2004 and March 2005, in contrast to a previous period of uninterrupted growth from 1998; the number of Green candidacies declined compared to 2002, and these candidates fared worse than in the past, particularly during the presidential campaign.[14]

Nomination controversy

When Nader announced that he would run as an independent candidate, and later explained that he was not seeking the Green Party's nomination, but would (as an independent) seek the party's "endorsement", factions within the party which had been lining up behind potential candidates solidified into an endorsement camp and a nomination camp (the latter favoring primarily David Cobb).

On June 26, 2004, the Green National Convention nominated Cobb, who promised to focus on building the party. Just over a third of the delegates voted "No Nominee" with the intent to later vote for a Nader endorsement. Pat LaMarche of Maine was nominated for vice-president. Cobb and Nader emphasized different strategies. Cobb promised to run a "strategic states" campaign based on the preferences and needs of the individual state Green parties; as a result, Cobb campaigned heavily in some battleground states and not in others. Nader intended to run a national multiparty ticket uniting the Greens with other parties.

After David Cobb received the party's 2004 presidential nomination at the Green National Convention[15] in Milwaukee, apparently in a show of unity, Nader's Vice Presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, said, "I'm going to walk out of here arm in arm with David Cobb." However, the nominating convention and the political discussions and maneuvering before it generated considerable controversy within the party. At issue was the apportionment of delegates and the method used to determine how many delegates each state received. The group Greens for Democracy and Independence, inspired by the principles in Peter Camejo's Avocado Declaration (in part a response to Nader's declaration not to seek the Green nomination), arose and became an organizing group for Greens disaffected with the internal policies and procedures of the GPUS, and sought reforms.

Two supporters of Camejo, Carol Miller and Forrest Hill, wrote one of a number of articles printed after the convention, including Rigged Convention; Divided Party',[16] alleging that the convention elections had been undemocratic. Many Green Party members were upset at the nomination convention's process and results, and some expressed "embarrassment" that Nader was not the party's 2004 candidate.

Other Green Party members responded[17] that the analysis they gave in the article was fundamentally flawed[18] to produce skewed results. One such response was that of the national party Secretary, Greg Gerritt, who self-published a book on the subject, Green Party Tempest.[19]

2006 Elections

The Greens fielded candidates in a number of races in 2006. The party won 66 races nationwide, including 21 in California and 11 in Wisconsin. One of the biggest victories included the election of Gayle McLaughlin as mayor in Richmond, California. Richmond now has become the first city with over 100,000 residents to have a Green mayor. In Maine, Pat LaMarche received nearly 10% of the vote in the state's gubernatorial race and the Maine Green Independent Party also won two seats on the Portland City Council. In the Illinois governor's race, candidate Rich Whitney received 10%, making the Green Party one of only three legally established, statewide political parties in Illinois. In Colorado's First District, Tom Kelly received 21% of the vote in his run for the U.S. Congress. However, the party lost its only elected state representative, John Eder.

The Green Party of Pennsylvania, faced with an exceptionally high ballot access petition requirement, chose to run Green Party organizer, Carl Romanelli, for U.S. Senate. The race between incumbent, Rick Santorum, and the son of a former Governor, Bob Casey, was already prominent on the national scene. Although a strong volunteer petition effort gathered 20,000 to 30,000 signatures, it was clear that paid petitioners would be needed to clear the 67,000 signature threshold. Donations to the petition drive came from many Republican donors with encouragement from Santorum's campaign, creating a flurry of blog attacks.

After Romanelli filed 99,000 signatures the Democrats challenged the petitions, and the Judge ordered the lawyers and nine representatives from each side to work full time reviewing signatures line by line, which continued for six weeks. Near the end of September the Judge abruptly ruled that Romanelli would be removed from the ballot. Following the controversial precedent set in the 2004 challenge to Nader's petitions in Pennsylvania, Romanelli and his lawyer were later assessed $81,000 for court costs and the challenger's expenses. The Green Party, having no statewide candidates on the ballot to get the required vote threshold, lost its "minor party" status in Pennsylvania, leaving only two parties still recognized by the state.

Approximately 8.7 million Americans voted for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and for impeachment resolutions on local and state ballots that were initiated or supported by Greens. Troop withdrawal initiatives won in 34 of 42 localities in Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Madison, and La Crosse, and all 11 communities in Illinois, including Chicago. Of 139 cities and towns in Massachusetts voting on the troop withdrawal measures, only a handful voted nay on initiatives demanding that Congress and the White House end the war immediately.[20]

2008 presidential election

Presidential candidates

The following candidates have announced that they seek the Green Party's nomination for President in 2008:[21]

Former Green Party presidential nominee and 2004 independent candidate, Ralph Nader [5], has announced that he will seek the presidency for the fourth time, running with San Francisco lawyer and Green politician Matt Gonzalez as his running mate. However, Nader and Gonzalez have declined to seek the Green Party's nomination.[22] Despite not being a formally announced candidate at the time, Nader won the Feb. 5th California and Massachusetts Green Party primaries.

Withdrawn candidates:

Green Party presidential debates

Eight candidates for the Green Party presidential nomination spoke at a forum at the Green Party Annual National Meeting [8], 13 July 2007, in Reading, PA.

The Green Party of Minnesota hosted a Green Party Presidential Forum on Saturday Jan. 5th at 5pm in Minneapolis.[23]

On 13 January 2008, Sunday, 2 p.m., a Green Party presidential candidate debate was held in San Francisco. The Green Party of Alameda County, along with the San Francisco Green Party and the National Delegates Committee of the Green Party of California, sponsored the Northern California Green Presidential Candidates debate.[24] About 800 people attended the debate with most paying a suggested donation of $10 to $20 to attend the forum.[25] The three-hour event was co-moderated by Cindy Sheehan and Aimee Allison.

Primaries and caucuses

Green Party primaries in Arkansas, California, Illinois, and Massachusetts were held on February 5, 2008. California and Massachusetts were won by Ralph Nader, while Illinois and Arkansas were won by Cynthia McKinney. Washington, DC held the DC Statehood Green Party primary on February 12 which was won by McKinney as was the February 19 Wisconsin Green primary.[26] On May 13 Mckinney won the Nebraska primary with 57% of the vote.[27]

Other states will hold caucuses or will establish their candidate choices via state conventions. Most states will allocate their delegates proportionally based on the support for various Green Party presidential candidates.

Nomination delegate count

2008 Green Party National Convention total vote count
Candidate Presidential Primaries
& Caucuses Apportioned
National Convention
Delegates' Vote2
(542 total)
Cynthia McKinney 304½ 324
Ralph Nader3 147 85½
Kat Swift 24 38½
Kent Mesplay 29½ 35
Jesse Johnson 27 32½
Elaine Brown 9 9
Jared Ball4 11 8
No candidate 10
Uncommitted 40 2
Color key: 1st place 2nd place Withdrawn
3rd place 4th place 5th place
1 "2008 Green Party Presidential Nomination Delegate Count". GPUS. July 3, 2008. 
2 "2008 Presidential Convention Ballot Results". GPUS. July 2008. 
3 Nader did not seek the Green Party nomination. His total includes 8 delegates from
Illinois where Howie Hawkins stood on the ballot in his place.
4 Endorsed Cynthia McKinney.

2008 convention site

On 2007 August 28 the Green National Committee chose Chicago as the site of the Presidential Nominating 2008 national convention and Annual Meeting [28] from July 10 to 14 [29].

The convention will be held at the Blackstone Hotel, the Chicago Theatre and neighboring venues. Chicago holds special historic significance as the location of the Haymarket Riot, a landmark of the labor movement which is marked by May Day celebrations. It is also the site of major anti-war protests at the 1968 Democratic convention, which helped to end the Vietnam War.

Ballot access

There are 21 states plus the District of Columbia where the Green Party has achieved a standing ballot line [30] [31] and has turned in petitions for Hawaii.[32] In other states the Green Party must circulate nominating petitions, with varying numbers of signatures and deadlines, to get its candidates on the ballot.

At its 2007 Annual National Meeting, the Green Party committed itself to getting on the ballot in all 50 states plus DC.


  1. Green Party members holding elected office in the United States. Green Party of California (June 2007). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  2. Sole Green Party Legislator Makes Switch. RAND California Policy Bulletin (1999-10-18). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  3. Ca 2000 Election Night Returns. The Capital Connection (2000-11-08). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  4. Green Party Ballot Status and Voter Registration Totals (United States). Green Party of California (May 2005). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  5. Greens Win Ballot Access in 31 States, Up From 17 in January. Green Party of the United States (2006-09-05). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  6. Jodean Marks (1997). "A Historical Look at Green Structure: 1984 to 1992". Synthesis/Regeneration 14. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  7. Petra Kelly (2002). "On Morality and Human Dignity (excerpts)". Synthesis/Regeneration 28. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  8. Lloyd Strecker (1996). "A Green President?". Synthesis/Regeneration 10. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  9. 1996 Presidential General Election Results. Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  10. 2000 Presidential General Election Results. Atlas of US Presidential Elections. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  11. See full text of the Boston Proposal
  12. Manski, Ben. "Green & Growing: 2004 in Perspective". June 20, 2003.
  13. Glick, Ted. "A Green Party 'Safe States' Strategy". ZNet. July 1, 2003.
  14. Greenfield, Steve (March 20, 2005) "The Decline of the Green Party."
  15. Green National Convention
  16. "Rigged Convention; Divided Party'"
  17. "Response to Hill/Miller"
  18. "Forrest Hill (I)"
  19. Green Party Tempest
  20. Greens Advance on November 7, Prepare for 2008 National Run. Green Party of the United States (2006-11-09). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  21. Seven Candidates For The 2008 Green Nomination Will Be On State Ballots For The Primaries. Green Party of the United States (2007-12-17). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  22. Nader Announces Pick for Vice President - The Caucus - Politics - New York Times Blog
  23. Green Party Presidential Candidate Forum. Green Party of Minnesota. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  24. Green campaign 2008: a presidential debate that matters!. Green Party of Alameda County. Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  25. Vigil, Delfin (2008-01-14). "Green Party holds presidential debate in San Francisco". San Francisco Chronicle (San Francisco, CA: Hearst Communications Inc.): p. A-8. Retrieved 2008-01-14. 
  26. Major Third Party 2008 Presidential Primaries. The Green Papers (2008-05-18). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  27. 2008 Nebraska Election Results. Nebraska Secretary of State (2008-05-14). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  29. Ballot Access News » Blog Archive » Green Party Chooses Chicago for National Convention
  30. Green Party wins ballot status. (2008-04-20). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  31. 2008 Petitioning for President. Ballot Access News (2008-03-01). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
  32. Green Party and Independent Party Submit Hawaii Petitions. Ballot Access News (2008-04-03). Retrieved on 2008-06-07.
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