ANNAPOLIS – Ralph Nader, the consumer advocate turned presidential candidate, is helping to bring out the Green in Maryland — if with his name alone.
Nader’s candidacy is uniting voters under the banner of the state’s Green Party, says party advocate David Moore.
Moore, a Ph.D student who lives in College Park, says he was “sick of voting for the lesser of two evils” — Democrats and Republicans.
A self-described environmental and social justice activist, Moore worked for Democrat Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign with “a hope that it would be a relief from 12 years of being frustrated with what was going on in Washington.”
That didn’t happen, he says.
Now, Moore, 31, is the chair of Maryland’s Green Party, an alternative political group that adopted Nader as its candidate.
With no official hierarchy, the party is not well organized here. But the Nader campaign may fix that by giving the Greens a candidate to rally around, party faithful say.
Bob Auerbach, 76, a retired librarian and Greenbelt resident, has been involved with what is now the Green movement since the 1930s. He is candid about his reasons for supporting Nader.
“We all know he won’t get elected, [but] a lot of us are using his name to promote the Green party,” he says.
“Slowly and gradually in Maryland the Greens are growing,” Auerbach says. “The Greens have a good future.”
In 1994, the Green Party garnered over 1 million votes nationwide for candidates at the state and federal level, said Linda Martin, national coordinator of The Draft Nader for President Clearinghouse, a Washington, D.C.-based political action committee that is independent of Nader.
(Martin, now living in Annandale, Va., received almost 50,000 votes running in Hawaii as a 1992 Green candidate for the U.S. Senate.)
For 1996, Nader is on the ballot in 21 states and the District of Columbia, according to The Clearinghouse. He is a qualified write-in candidate in at least 20 states.
One of those is Maryland, where the Greens obtained only about 4,000 of the 10,000 signatures needed to get the party on the ballot. Each county’s local election boards still must verify those signatures.
Moore says “the real effort for us in Maryland … is to try to build an active organization after November 1996.”
He estimates that at least 300 to 400 Marylanders have taken enough active interest to seek the Green Party out. But it’s too early gauge the ultimate interest, he says.
For one thing, the organization has been hard to reach. It got a phone line only at the end of September. The number is 301- 441-4716.
For another, Moore’s group is short of money. So far, The Clearinghouse effort has raised $17,530 nationwide, according to Linda Welch, treasurer. None of that has gone to Moore.
Moore runs the Maryland effort from his home, concentrating on organizing local citizens. He is centered on Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, where he says a lot of voters already belong to Green Party USA, the national party organization.
In College Park, Moore has held meetings, taken part in local radio talk shows, and sent organizers to meetings of environmental and church groups where people may be sympathetic to the Green Party. The Maryland Greens have also gone to festivals and set up tables at local events.
But because of a lack of funds and volunteers, no mailings or door-to-door campaigning have been done, Moore says.
Signatures are still being collected to place the Green Party on the Maryland ballot in 1998, the next partisan election. According to the State Administrative Board of Election Laws, all the signatures must be affixed within two years of the date of the first signature.
If the Green Party succeeds in getting a candidate onto the state ballot for the presidential election in the year 2000, that candidate would have to get at least 3% of Maryland’s vote to be eligible for primaries in the next election.
In the meantime, Maryland citizens may register as Greens, but since the party is not yet recognized in the state, elections officials place its affiliates in the “other” or “declined” categories. While they note who has registered as a Green, they do not keep a running list.
Realistically, Nader is not going to be the next President of the United States, Moore acknowledges.
So does Martin, of The Clearinghouse. But that doesn’t matter to her. For her, victory is in building the Greens “and educating the public that there are other parties.” “We’ve already won,” Martin says. “We’ve done so much to advance the cause.” -30-