Friday, February 08, 2008

After the Peace and Freedom Party Primary, by Kevin Akin

Wednesday Feb 6th, 2008 10:40 PM
by Kevin Akin ( kevinakin1950 [at] )
In a confusing situation in which two candidates appeared in both the Green and Peace and Freedom Party non-binding presidential primaries, along with five others in each party, the campaigns look toward the Peace and Freedom Party state convention in August where the nomination will be decided.
Preliminary results from the non-binding California Peace and Freedom Party presidential preference primary are in, though hundreds of additional votes will continue to be added over the next two weeks as absentee, provisional and challenged ballots are counted. 24 hours after the polls closed, the percentage results are: Ralph Nader 40.4%. Cynthia McKinney 21.3%. Gloria La Riva 20.5% Brian Moore 5.3% and Stewart Alexander 5.4%, with total support for the ticket at 10.7%. John Crockford 5.5%. Stanley Hetz 1.6%. A study of the county-by-county results is instructive, with the highest percentage of votes for Nader from the most isolated counties with no party organization. Nader's name is familiar to everyone, of course, but he ran no active campaign, and refused even to announce his candidacy. Advocates for his candidacy campaigned in several areas, including Sacramento and Alameda Counties, but (as with most of the candidates) reached relatively few of the Peace and Freedom Party voters. Both Nader's advocates and the Cynthia McKinney campaign focused on the primary campaign in the Green Party, in which both their names appeared with five other candidates, two of whom (Ball and Brown) announced their withdrawal well before election day. In the Green primary, according to current results, Nader received 61.2% of the vote and McKinney 25.8%. The other 13% was split among the other five candidates, the leader among them at 4.6% being Elaine Brown, who withdrew from the race weeks ago. The refusal of both Nader and McKinney to campaign actively in the Peace and Freedom Party primary has caused misgivings among many Peace and Freedom Party activists, who fear that nominating either of them could give the party a presidential nominee who would not mention the party's name during the campaign. Several members of the Peace and Freedom Party State Central Committee advocated voting for McKinney nevertheless, but Nader appears to lack any organized support among party activists. It remains to be seen how the nomination prospects in the Green Party will be affected by the votes in their primary. McKinney had a much more active campaign, but Nader received about 2-1/2 times as many votes. Results from the Illinois Green primary the same day are not yet available in California. In Illinois, four candidates were on the ballot, including McKinney and Howie Hawkins, a stand-in for Nader. The possibilities for the Green nomination nationally include Nader, in which case it is not clear whether McKinney would attempt to gain ballot status in some states independently or using the ballot line of state Green organizations that defy the national choice; McKinney, in which case it is again not clear whether Nader will run, though if he does he already has shown in 2004 that he is willing to gain ballot access through other parties and through independent lines and split-away Greens; and some other candidate, not necessarily one who has yet announced. The actual choice of the Peace and Freedom Party nominees to go on the ballot in California in November is made by the State Convention, to be held this year in Sacramento on the first weekend in August. The voting delegates will be those elected to the Central Committee in the June election, and the filing period for those positions is just now about to begin. Both because Nader does not have an active campaign among Peace and Freedom Party activists, and because his lead in the non-binding primary fell well short of a majority, his nomination does not appear likely. In the case of McKinney, it is not clear whether her campaign will be able to overcome her lower-than-expected vote in the primary and her decisive defeat in the Green primary, in which she did campaign actively. If she pushes ahead with an attempt to gain the Peace and Freedom nomination, that will certainly signal an intention of disregarding the primary vote, which will clear away any obstacle to the two other serious prospects for the nomination, the national tickets of the Party for Socialism and Liberation and the Socialist Party USA. Gloria La Riva, the PSL nominee (and former P&F candidate for governor), received the third-highest vote at 20.5%. The Socialist Party ticket of Brian Moore for President and Stewart Alexander (a former P&F candidate for lieutenant governor) for Vice President had both its candidates on the ballot, and their California supporters urged voters to select either one to show support for the ticket. At 10.7% of the vote together, they are in the race for the nomination at the convention. Right now, the choice may come down to organization. Supporters of each ticket will be qualifying Peace and Freedom Party members as candidates for State Central Committee (with simultaneous election to their County Central Committee). This process will last until early March, with write-ins possible in some districts as well during April, if a required petition is first circulated during March. While members may be added to the State Central Committee during other meetings by appointment, no appointments may be made at the Convention meeting, so the convention voters will be limited to those elected in June. Peace and Freedom Party activists await post-primary statements from the candidates, and it will be interesting to see how effectively the various camps can muster candidates for Central Committee. (Kevin Akin is South State Chair of the Peace and Freedom Party. This piece represents only his own opinion, and is not an official party statement.)

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