Will there be a Green-Rainbow candidate in the special senate race?
by John Andrews Feb 13, 2013
At this time, there does not appear to be any Green-Rainbow Party candidate who will run in the special election to replace Senator John Kerry. This is unfortunate because the campaign dialogue between the Democrat and Republican contenders will certainly ignore the many critical issues that a GRP candidate would inject into the race. Voter choices will be narrowed by having only two choices on the ballot.
It is worth noting the reasons why our electoral system has failed to produce better choices in this race. For one thing, it is very expensive to run a statewide race for U.S. Senate. The big money politicians - with the help of wealthy donors from outside Massachusetts - will probably spend well over five million dollars each on their races. Because GRP candidates run clean money campaigns and do not use incumbency power to leverage donations from lobbying donors, few potential GRP candidates would be able to secure the funding needed to run a full scale senate race.
State election law also discriminates heavily against GRP candidates when it comes to funding by the party. Any Democratic town committee can donate $1000 to the Democratic nominee, whereas election laws impose a crippling $500 donation limit on the entire statewide Green-Rainbow Party, including all its locals. In addition, Democratic town committees can give unlimited non-monetary gifts to their candidates (such as printing, lawn signs, etc.). Any such gifts from GRP locals must have their monetary value computed and subtracted from the $500 state limit.
Even getting on the ballot is difficult for a GRP candidate. It requires collecting about 20,000 nomination signatures using an outmoded and unwieldy signature validation process. For the Democratic and Republican candidates, professional signature gatherers are paid as much as $5 apiece to collect signatures (One candidate is reported to have paid $100,000 to get his signatures for the Senate race.) The GRP generally uses volunteers to collect its signatures. It takes time to organize such a signature drive, and the drive would absorb a major part of the GRP volunteer base for several months.
Potential GRP candidates are sometimes discouraged by the fact that they are likely to suffer a media blackout, being excluded from mention in the press and barred from debates. The Boston Globe is notorious for censoring any mention of candidates other than those of the two major parties, and the Globe has often played a lead role in the media consortium that excludes third-party candidates from debates.
It would be great to give voters more than two choices at the polls. Voters need to hear a campaign dialogue that does not consist entirely of right-wing and center-right debate. But for that to happen routinely, we need to build a stronger Green-Rainbow base, fight against discriminatory election laws, and break through the media blackouts. Meanwhile, we can support Green-Rainbow candidates running for local office, support local Green-Rainbow chapters, and donate to the GRP Candidate's Fund. Everyone needs to do their part to bring about a healthier democracy.