Oregon Greens splitting?
As if the Green Party hasn't had enough to deal with these days, now this. On August 24, Liz Trojan, the Co-chair of the Pacific Green Party stepped down from her post and exited the Party altogether. Only six days later her fellow co-chair, Jeff Strang abandoned his co-chair position but remained a member of the Party. The two are furious over a recent incident in which an Oregon Green candidate for the House of Representatives, Teresa Keane, switched races and decided to run for US Senate instead.
September 7, 2004
It sounds frivolous enough. But Trojan and Strang claim that Party by-laws were broken in the process, undermining Green ethics.
"I was called on the phone and told to come meet with Teresa [Keane], Jeff [Cropp] (Keane's campaign manager) and Marnie Glickman (ex-Co-Chair of the national Green Party) at a local pub to discuss Teresa's candidacy," Trojan says. "Teresa, who was nominated at our convention to run against US Representative David Wu, had realized she no longer lived in District 1, Wu's district, so we met to discuss what it is she should do."
Upon investigation, however, Trojan and Strang found out, that according to Oregon law, it does not matter in which district Teresa Keane resides, only that she be an Oregon resident. She did not have to switch races.
"So we show up," Trojan continues, "and find out Glickman and Cropp had already decided to switch Keane to run against Oregon Senator Ron Wyden. Jeff [Strang] and I contended that nominations can only be made at a convention, and Keane had only been nominated to run against Wu in District 1. I told them this would be breaking our by-laws. Marnie [Glickman] then told us that 'by-laws are just guidelines.' It was a coup."
Glickman of course had no reason to even be at the meeting, as she holds no position whatsoever with the Pacific Green Party, and did not even attend the convention where Keane was nominated.
"Of course we should follow by-laws," Glickman told me over the phone, "[but] I've never read the Green by-laws."
Glickman's statement is odd to say the least as Glickman has just graduated law school, and is waiting to hear back on whether or not she passed the Oregon Bar Exam. Again, Trojan and Strang wonder why she was even involved.
"Glickman has been one of the powerful people pulling strings for the Green Party this year," says Clint Coopernoll who was a Washington Green Party delegate at the Party's national convention in Wisconsin last July but now devotes his energies to the Ralph Nader campaign. "I've seen Glickman at work for a few years now. During a campaign forum in Portland last year, I heard her say that, after talking to friends at Emily's List where she has deep connections, and used to be employed, that she wouldn't be supporting Nader's candidacy in 2004."
Glickman denies making any such comment. "I had hoped Nader would seek the Party's nomination, but he didn't," Glickman explains. "So I backed [David] Cobb."
Glickman in the past has not been shy about her support for Democratic candidates. While seeking the co-Chair position of the Green Party she wrote on her resume that she had raised in excess of $10 million dollars for the Democratic Party during the 1990s. "Ten million isn't that much," Glickman admits. But how much has Glickman brought into the Green Party since her entrance? Zilch.
"Glickman, [Medea] Benjamin, Ted Glick, Jody Haug (another co-Chair of the National Party), and others sabotaged Nader at the convention," another delegate who attended the convention told me.
"It's true," Coopernoll says, "Haug was one of the worst. She and her cronies who sat on the Rules Committee at the convention actually passed a resolution that refused to allow motions from the floor. No kidding. The Republicans still allow motions from the floor. They just didn't want Nader friendly delegates to have a voice. It was blatantly undemocratic. And now we are left with David Cobb, who is a safe-state strategy himself, as he is unknown wherever he goes."
Liz Trojan, who was one of the lone delegates from Oregon who supported endorsing Nader, concurs. "It is true what they say, the convention was rigged."
"I heard Glickman in the bathroom say, 'I won't be that involved [with the Greens] now. My work is done here.' I took it as if she was admitting she had done her job, her and the others got Cobb nominated," said another Green delegate from Washington who did not want to be named.
"These guys like [David] Cobb and Glickman would love to see the Greens become a caucus of the Democratic Party," says Coopernoll. "It's very sad. And you have to understand, Green Party members for the most part aren't wealthy people. So when a national convention comes up we can't all go and be delegates. But Medea [Benjamin] and others financed trips for many pro-Cobb delegates." And many believe Benjamin got the money to do so from the Nader-hating Democrat billionaire, George Soros who has funded her Global Exchange organization in the past. This rumor has yet to be proven however. Benjamin could not be reached for comment.
Fast forward to Oregon. Glickman, who is still listed as a fundraiser for the Green Party on their official website, may have ulterior motives regarding the Teresa Keane nomination.
Democrat David Wu is running a tight race in Oregon against a well-financed Republican woman named Goli Ameri. Senator Ron Wyden on the other hand is leading in most polls by more then 25%. Why switch Keane from Wu to Wyden then, if not to protect David Wu?
"It's not about that at all," says Keane's campaign manager Jeff Cropp. "We decided that since she [Keane] isn't from District 1, that it'd be best for her to run a state-wide campaign against Wyden ... That way she can go to places that don't have a Green on the ballot."
In other words, Keane is now running a sort of "safe-in-state" strategy, where she'll have no impact whatsoever on the election in which she is running. Sounds like an ominous trend for Greens.
"I'd rather see Keane run against Wu," Glickman says. "But she wants to run against Wyden."
Unfortunately not all Greens believe it is Keane's decision who she can run against. Nor is it the Coordinating Committee's who was called by Keane after her candidate swap and asked whether or not they would have supported her nomination at the convention had she sought it. A small majority said they would have, but one who voted in favor now says he would not have done so if he knew by-laws were being broken. And where does this leave Pavel Goberman, who wanted to run against Wu but lost to Keane during their party's convention?
"No where in the by-laws does it say the Coordinating Committee can make that decision," Trojan says. "It does say we can interpret, but we cannot create. And nowhere does it say anything about a candidate switching races. It's outrageous. Glickman and Cropp are way out of line."
Lloyd Marbet, a long-time Oregon Green Party loyalist who ran on the Party's ticket as Attorney General in 2000 agrees. "If this decision is not reversed I will leave the Party," Marbet says, "This is disturbing for a lot of reasons ... it is just contrary to everything I thought the Green Party stands."
Marbet is currently seeking legal counsel to help set things straight. "This isn't a Nader-Cobb issue. This is an issue of how we should be as a party," he says.
Jeff Cropp, who is an ardent Cobb supporter, sees it much different. "Their (Trojan, Strang, and Marbet) attitude is deplorable. They didn't get their way at the convention so they are using this hyperbole to fight back. They are being babies," Cropp fumed.
Babies or not, the fact remains the Green Party is splitting in Oregon. The Teresa Keane saga is just one of many we will see unfold within the Green Party over the next few months. You can bet on it. As more whistleblowers come forward and expose the internal mayhem of the Greens, we may see some dramatic shifts in the way progressives view the vitality of the party.
So this is how the Green Party functions at the state level. One can only imagine what they are capable of at the national. If the rumors turn out to be true, and Medea Benjamin did in fact use Soros money to fly Cobb delegates to the party's national convention in Milwaukee last July, the Greens will never again be trusted as the standard bearer of progressive causes. Or maybe they have lost that title already. Either way, it is clear that the Greens are unraveling from within.
Joshua Frank, a contributor to CounterPunch's forthcoming book, A Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, is putting the finishing touches on Left Out: How Liberals did Bush's Work for Him, to be published by Common Courage Press. He welcomes comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article