Number of Green Party candidates increases

By Paolo Cisneros

The Illinois Green Party announced last week that it expects to run about 60 candidates for offices across Illinois in the November general election.

Most notably, the party has filed seven candidates for U.S. Congress and one candidate for the U.S. Senate. In addition, other party members announced their candidacy for the state House of Representatives, the state Senate and various county offices.

Party officials said they are elated by the growth in candidate numbers they have seen since the last election.

“This is huge for us,” said Patrick Kelly, chair of the Illinois Green Party’s media committee. “We’re going from having less than a dozen candidates in 2006 to 60 this year.”

Kelly said the 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Green Party candidate Rich Whitney helped spur this year’s spike in candidates.

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Whitney received more than 10 percent of the state vote in 2006. His finish permitted the loosening of ballot-access restrictions on the Green Party, making it easier for members to add candidates to election ballots.

Kelly said increased coverage of the party in the mainstream media has also helped its cause.

“People are hearing about us more and more in local settings,” he said. “This year is going to increase the visibility of the Green Party overall.”

Tom Abram, press officer for the Prairie Greens, said although the party cannot realistically win seats for all of its candidates, its participation in the election is important for the development of the party.

“What we’re doing now is building a foundation for the future,” he said. “I think we can show that the Greens can make an impact at the local level.”

Ballots in Illinois will also feature a Green Party presidential candidate who will be chosen at the party’s national convention in Chicago, held from July 10 to July 13.

For now, the focus must be on proving to the public that the Green Party can serve as a successful alternative to the nation’s two parties, Abram said.

“I attribute a lot of our success to perseverance,” he said. “We’re here to stay.”