Green Party officials renew their bid for national status

The Associated Press
Wednesday August 01, 2001

SANTA MONICA — The party that ran Ralph Nader for president in November actually wasn’t an official national party at all. Instead it was an association of state parties. 

Now, Green Party officials believe they have satisfied the requirements for national party status, and they announced Monday they are seeking the designation from the Federal Election Commission. 

“We’re saying we are a national party. We can raise more funds, and raise the threshold point of our recognition,” Santa Monica Mayor and Green Party member Mike Feinstein told a press conference at the local chapter’s crowded storefront office. “We’ve decided to participate in the system.” 

National party status — which the Greens sought unsuccessfully in 1996 — is desirable mainly for fund-raising purposes, said FEC spokeswoman Kelly Huff. Local and state party committees may not accept donations above $5,000 a year per contributor, while the limit for national party committees is $20,000. 

“The biggest benefit is the higher contribution limit,” Huff said. 

A party must satisfy various criteria in order to qualify as a federally recognized political party and form an official national committee. These include nominating candidates for various federal offices in numerous states, engaging in activities like voter-registration drives on an ongoing basis and holding a national convention. 

The FEC found in 1996 that the Green Party did not satisfy all those requirements, but party officials say they anticipate success this time around. 

“We’re a grass-roots political party so we grow from the grass roots up. That’s why it’s so exciting today, because it’s showing that we have grass roots across the United States,” said Anne Boeke, former co-chair of the Association of State Green Parties, which the new Green Party of the United States would replace. 

“We couldn’t have done this before.” 

Party officials plan to file the necessary paperwork with the FEC by Aug. 10. FEC attorneys will then make a recommendation to the six commissioners, who have 60 days to issue an opinion. 

The Green Party ran 57 candidates for congressional seats across the country in 2000, none of them successful. Nader was on the ballot in 45 states and got 3 percent of the vote nationwide — preventing Democrat Al Gore’s election, in the view of some. 

Nader’s candidacy raised the party’s profile and has resulted in increased membership, according to party officials. The party now claims about 200,000 members nationwide and official chapters in more than 30 states. 

Green Party officials hope that national party status will raise their profile and help them move their anti-corporate, pro-social justice agenda forward. 

“The new Green Party of the United States is a political framework from which we will fuel the momentum against corporate power that is building on a global scale,” said Jo Chamberlain, an environmental activist from San Mateo County and member of the new national steering committee.