And then there is the Green Party candidate, the perfectly named Evergreen Chou. Before we describe Mr. Chou, it is worth discussing the importance of the Green Party this year.
Now that the Occupy Wall Street movement has slowed in its momentum, where do the architects of that movement channel their energy? Surely, they will seek to voice their concerns in the upcoming elections. Think globally, act locally...right?
The Green Party got its first real push in 2000, when Ralph Nader had his most successful run at the presidency. Nader, while losing, did the same thing Barry Goldwater did by losing, he inspired a generation of candidates – some successful, some not so much.
Evergreen Chou is a diagnostic medical sonographer by trade. He is a union member, and he was one of those inspired by Nader. Chou describes himself as a perennial Green Party candidate, but he is well versed in the party line and party stances. In his own words, he is running “because the two-party system is no longer serving the needs of the 99 percent.”
Why would Democrats and Republicans care about a third party that normally only garners about 1 percent of the vote? Well, because this year is different. I asked Chou where he would seek votes, knowing how difficult it is to pry voters away from their party loyalties?
“I am in it to win it,” says Chou, who speaks with a Brooklyn/Queens accent that does not indicate that he arrived on American shores at age nine from Taiwan. “I am going after voters who usually do not vote.”
Normally, finding voters who do not often vote is yeoman’s work. But this November, there will be – as there was four years ago – high voter turnout. People will vote who usually do not, and that could put some frustrated non-party loyalists in Chou’s corner.
They may simply decide to vote the top of the ticket (Romney or Obama) and then send a message to the major parties by pulling the lever for the Green Party for Congress.
If Chou can wrest a couple of thousand votes away from the two major party candidates, he can be influential. Like races in which Chou has entered before, he will most likely not be invited to debates on New York 1 or anyplace else, and that is unfortunate.
After the Occupy Wall Street movement, the economic crisis, and the general frustration with the two major parties, why should we not hear from a third party candidate?
NY08 Mirrors DC Mayoral Race
The race in the 8th Congressional District in Brooklyn and parts of Queens is going to be decided in the Democratic Primary on June 26.
Hakeem Jeffries, a young assemblyman who is trying to build a pragmatic base to governing in the city (and country) is running against controversial Councilman Charles Barron. Barron is no stranger to controversy. He has made insensitive racial remarks, referred to Israel as a terrorist state, and sympathized with Gaddafi.
To Barron’s credit, he does not hide from these controversial stances. The former Black Panther has no interest in being a uniter, but at the very least he is honest about it.
This race between Jeffries and Barron looks a lot like the mayoral race that took place in Washington, D.C., two years ago. Mayor Adrian Fenty was trying to keep new Washingtonians – many of them Caucasian – from leaving the city after they arrived in D.C. to work and attend college. His bold style was an acquired taste, but he took on old sacred cows in education and addressed the homeless problem.
His opponent, Vincent Gray, painted Fenty as not being a true part of the community any longer. Gray is now the mayor of Washington, D.C., but he won the election by insisting the Fenty forgot where he came from.
Fenty’s sin in that race was that he saw D.C. as a real city with a real future. Fenty bet on tomorrow, and Gray won by betting on the sentiments of yesterday. Although both Gray and Fenty are African American, the race had serious racial overtones to it.
Now, Jeffries tries to do what Fenty could not do: he attempts to win by betting on tomorrow. If yesterday is over, and the time for smart governance has arrived, Mr. Jeffries should be able to win this one on June 26.