So it lasted all of four years – Illinois’ stint as a place where we have three official political parties in place.
|Bury next to Washington, Solidarity parties?|
RICH WHITNEY, THE Green gubernatorial nominee, only got 2.7 percent of the vote for Illinois governor – falling short of the 5 percent minimum required by state law. All of the Green candidates running for statewide office got about 2 to 3 percent of the vote.
Locally, the BIG NAME for the Greens seems to be Tom Tresser, who was their nominee for Cook County Board president. He managed to get 4 percent. Greens may have got established party status this week in New York and Texas, but they flopped in Illinois
If you want purely symbolic “victories,” then look at Illinois’ First Congressional District. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., easily won re-election. But in the city portion of that district, Green nominee Jeff Adams actually beat Republican Ray Wardingley (2.16 percent to 1.97 percent) among those people who just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for an ex-Black Panther Party member (the REAL Panther party of four decades ago, not the nutcase group that now uses that name).
But it really is a stretch to call that a victory. The bottom line is that in a year when many voters would have enjoyed having a legitimate alternative to either of the established political parties, the Green Party showed it was not up to providing it.
IN THE ILLINOIS governor’s race, people who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for either Gov. Pat Quinn or state Sen. William Brady, R-Bloomington, by and large were looking to independent candidate Scott Lee Cohen (character flaws and all) more than they were to Whitney and crew.
Now I know the hostile response I’m going to get. Whitney somehow maintained his political purity by not stooping to the level of Cohen, who had he not pumped several millions of dollars of his own money into his campaign fund would have been just as poor as the Greens.
One Green Party nominee I encountered on Election Night, Kenneth Williams, who was running for an Illinois House seat (he got 17.1 percent of the vote) in the south suburbs, went straight for that angle in his own Campaign ’10 analysis.
“The (Whitney) campaign didn’t have the kind of money to draw attention, and that caused people to start excluding them from the debate,” Williams said. “It shows how the establishment, the media, can set the agenda and keep our ideas from being heard.”
I EXPECT THAT line is going to be repeated often – the Green Party was picked on. Had it been included in public debates and had people gone out of their way to hear the group, they would have loved the idea. It is the establishment that is biased against them.
The problem with that attitude is that it is likely the reason why Green Party types won’t be able to get organized enough anytime in the near future to regain established party status – even though, theoretically, they have some nice ideals.
Williams himself admitted that for the Green Party in Illinois to be considered fully legitimate, it was going to have to start winning elections. “If we could get five party members or more elected, then there really is a new political party in this state.”
The Green Party, as currently structured, isn’t even coming close to winning. In some cases, their candidates are no more legitimate than the perennial Libertarian Party people who always seem to run for office and take 1 percent of the vote on Election Day.
|COHEN: He vanquished the Greens!|
Now I know some people might wonder what the big deal is about “established political party” status. Regardless of what happened Tuesday, the Illinois Green Party still exists. I won’t be surprised if Whitney runs again for governor at some point in the future. There may well be candidates on future ballots with the “G” after their name, rather than the “D” or “R.”
But it relates to the fact that Illinois has lesser requirements for candidates of established political parties to actually get on the ballot. People running on something that is not an established political party are required to show more support – in the form of valid signatures on nominating petitions – in order to justify their political presence.
Considering how many electoral boards that determine ballot presence and rule on challenges to candidates are establishment-minded, I’m sure Green candidates liked the idea of having a lesser standard to meet. Now, their candidates are going to face stricter challenges. They’re going to have to work harder. I suppose we will see if they’re up to it, although I expect we’ll find they produce fewer candidates.
BECAUSE IF ALL we get from Green Party people in the future is whining about how unfair life was that they couldn’t keep their established party status, then perhaps we are justified in writing them off.
Illinois Green Party -- 2006-2010. R.I.P.