She once called former Vice President Al Gore low on “Negro tolerance.” Then she charged that the Bush Administration purposefully allowed the September 11 attacks to happen. And, before she finished her sixth and final term in Congress, she punched a U.S. Capitol Police Officer who failed to recognize her at a security checkpoint.
So who better than Cynthia McKinney, the fiery former Democratic Congresswoman from Georgia, to lead the Green Party through an arduous and potentially ugly campaign to become a third party force in the United States?
McKinney, 53, handily won the Green presidential nomination in the initial round of voting at the party’s national convention in Chicago on July 12. While not the first African-American woman to run for president, a feat reached by Communist Party member Charlene Mitchell in 1968, her ticket is distinctive. She and running mate, Bronx-born activist Rosa Clemente, champion a platform of single-payer universal health care, the immediate withdrawal of American forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, a new Department of Peace, and reparations for African Americans.
Alternately, they would settle for ballot access in a majority of the states.
McKinney appears tonight at 7 at the offices of Manhattan Neighborhood Network at 537 W. 59th St. to launch an effort to get on the ballot in New York, one of more than 30 states where the Green Party does not have status. In November, they hope to garner at least five percent of the general election vote, the amount required to eliminate the annoying need to qualify on a state-by-state basis every four years.
In New York, where the Green Party lost statewide ballot status in 2002, rules call for 15,000 petition signatures to be grabbed before August 17 to qualify for the ballot, with at least 100 signatures garnered from each of 15 congressional districts.
As insurance, Greens plan to canvass for 30,000 signatures in what appears to be an uphill battle.
“New York election laws are very difficult for third party candidates,” Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf told the Voice this morning. He predicted that even if McKinney does get on the state ballot, she still might have to fight to stay on, in a legal battle that would demand expenditures far beyond her resources.
“Could she sustain that challenge? Not likely,” he added.
But if McKinney does squeeze out a win, and/or manages to gain access in enough other states for Greens to reach their general election goal of five percent, could Democrats’ nightmare of another spoiler scenario be a possibility?
“It’s a very different situation now than it was in 2000,” says Karen Young, a Green Party member and the media director for New York Power to the People, a 527 group that supports the McKinney campaign. She suggests that if Democrats cannot sustain their double-digit lead heading into November, then they have only themselves to blame.
“We think everybody who wants to see a real vibrant political discourse should vote for political choice,” she says.