By Ted Glick
November 25, 2002
For those who are interested, this is a short summary of my Green Party U.S. Senate campaign in New Jersey and my hopes for the future as a result of it.
The hard facts:
We will probably end up getting about 25,000 total votes. A few days after the election, before the counting of absentee ballots or any other final adjustments, I had 24,066 votes, 1.2% of the total vote. This put me in third place among six candidates, behind the Democrat and Republican and ahead of the Libertarian, Conservative and Socialist candidates.
I received more votes than the Libertarian, Conservative and Socialist candidates combined, about twice as much as the 4th place Libertarian candidate, so the Green Party of New Jersey has solidified its hold on being the leading—actually, being the in-fact—“third party” in the state.
This was less votes than I had hoped for and than I had expected. However, there were a number of things working against us:
-my being relatively unknown in New Jersey prior to this election campaign. Although I was known somewhat among progressive activists, I’d been living in New Jersey for only about 3 ½ years when the campaign began and my primary New Jersey activism over that period of time was in my hometown of Bloomfield.
-a huge disparity as far as money. Lautenberg and Forrester, between them, put in $10 million or so of their own money, in addition to roughly another $10 million that they raised. I raised roughly $40,000 and spent roughly $45,000 (thanks to my credit card).
-the mass media. With some exceptions, the print, radio and television media generally marginalized us, portraying the Greens as hardly-credible challengers to the “real” parties. This was particularly true during the final weeks of the campaign, especially the final week when there was a virtual press whiteout of news about me or the other alternative party campaigns.
-concern on the part of many voters over the Democrats losing the Senate—the “spoiler” issue.
-the relative youth and weakness of the Green Party of New Jersey. It’s been in existence for about five years and, though made up of many wonderful, hard-working people, it is relatively “green” as far as electoral experience compared with some other state Green groups. New Jersey is also a decidedly unfriendly place toward alternative parties when it comes to the dominant political and media powers-that-be, as I learned very well during my campaign.
-the on-going alienation from the whole political system on the part of a majority of the potential electorate. This was reflected in a voter turnout in New Jersey of somewhere in the mid-30 percent of potential voters.
-and finally, the withdrawal of Bob Torricelli from the race about one month before election day. There is no question but that the replacement of Frank Lautenberg for Torricelli significantly cut down on my vote total. In mid-September a Zogby poll had me at about 3%, and an internal, low-budget poll we did had me at 7-8%. We felt good about these numbers and felt there were realistic possibilities for building upon them. However, when “ethically challenged” Bob was replaced two weeks later by “mister clean” Frank, this seriously undercut my support.
Here’s what our campaign accomplished:
-focused attention on the undemocratic nature of the candidate-debate process in the state through two well-covered demonstrations at the first two debates in early September. I got arrested at the first one; two more people got arrested at the second one, and there were nine more people prepared to do so. Then on October 18th myself and two others, Jim Mohn and Daniel Califf-Glick, conducted a 7 ½ hour sit-in in Lautenberg’s campaign office which broke a logjam and led to a state- and nationally-televised, one-hour, six-way debate on October 30th. This never would have happened if not for my campaign’s actions.
-did very well during that televised debate. Scores of people have commented on it to me since then, including total strangers on the street, and all said I was very good, with a number telling me that they thought I won it.
-from beginning to end we raised up the issue of peace. From August onward we actively, consistently and publicly opposed the war drive on Iraq on the part of the Bush administration. Without question this helped to strengthen the peace movement here in New Jersey.
-spoke before high school and college students on about 20 college campuses or high schools, receiving a warm and even inspiring response. I have heard from 4-5 high schools which conducted mock elections and I did well, ranging from a low of about 15% of the vote, to 40% and winning at another school.
-made new connections, or reconnected with (as far as the Greens), groups and individuals in the African American, Latino, Arab American, Jewish, labor, feminist and other communities.
-received contributions or messages of support, interest or a willingness to volunteer from over 1,000 new people, the vast majority New Jersey residents. We are staying in contact with these people and encouraging them to become active in building the Green Party.
-thanks to the great work of Jo-Anne Head, produced and continually updated a website, http://www.glickforsenate.org, that had a lot of traffic.
-posted 2,500 lawn signs around the state and hung 30 10 x 4 foot, hand-painted, highway banners on major roads
-produced and distributed approximately 170,000 pieces of literature
-ran about 125 professionally-done, issue-oriented radio spots on three radio stations, one in the north, one in the center and one in the south of the state
-produced and distributed almost 300 Glick for Senate t-shirts
-produced and distributed 2,000 buttons and 2,500 bumper stickers
-broke through and received media coverage from most of the major written press, several television stations and some radio stations at least once over the course of the campaign, in some cases a number of times. The two highlights were our victory in being part of the televised 6-way debate and the semi-endorsement of me by the Bergen Record, one of the state’s major papers.
Future Plans and Hopes
I’ve gone back to my work as the National Coordinator of the Independent Progressive Politics Network since the election, but I’ve also continued and will continue to work with the Green Party of New Jersey. We’ve had two very good follow-up meetings to discuss what happened and begin to make future plans and, as this is written, there’s an important, all-day, statewide meeting coming up in New Brunswick on Sunday, December 8th.
I have no plans to run for office anytime soon. There have been several people who want me to run for Governor in 2005; I am not opposed to this as a possibility but am also not planning on necessarily doing so right now.
I believe two key focuses for the Green Party in the coming year have to be
-putting together a solid slate of candidates to run for both municipal and state assembly and senate seats. It is important that, however many candidates end up running, that these candidates have the benefit of the electoral campaign experiences of those of us in the GPNJ, as well as active support, so that we emerge out of those campaigns in November of 2003 with a stronger and more broadly-based Green Party and greater respect from New Jersey’s voters.
-a major campaign to bring Clean Money, voluntary public financing of elections to New Jersey. As I found as I campaigned this year, this is a VERY popular issue, the issue of corporate money corrupting our political system. Four states already have enacted clean money reform and two of them, Arizona and Maine, have made great strides in a short period of time in popularizing this system. In Maine, close to ¾ of the state senate and roughly ½ of the state assembly seats will be held by candidates who ran “clean” during this election cycle. In Arizona both the new governor and over 1/3 of the legislature, more than double the number in 2000, will come into office as “clean” candidates.
Corruption is a big issue in New Jersey right now. It’s not just Torricelli. It’s the mayor of Patterson, the County Executive in Essex, elected officials in Asbury Park and elsewhere. The Green Party can make significant political inroads and broaden its base if we undertake a serious, well-organized effort around the clean money issue.
I’m looking forward to the coming year of Green Party political activity in New Jersey.