With the Presidential election less than a month away, members of the Green Party of New Orleans are holding events and making calls on behalf of candidate Jill Stein while beginning to think about growing the party for local elections in the years to come.
Eliot Barron, the Green Party candidate running for the District 1 Congressional seat held by U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise, will hold his “Make it Rain” fundraiser today (Wednesday, Oct. 12) at the Bonnabel boat launch at 1599 Bonnabel Boulevard in Metairie. Supporters are encouraged to bring their friends, family and even pets to interact with Barron and learn about his campaign firsthand, and campaign materials will be distributed, he told members of the Green Party of New Orleans at their monthly meeting Tuesday evening in Mid-City.
Meanwhile, the Louisiana for Jill Stein campaign has launched its own contest for volunteers willing to call other voters on behalf of the Green Party. The Louisiana volunteer who makes the most calls between Oct. 10 and 24 will win a campaign package of a T-shirt, bumper sticker and button, and anyone can sign up at www.jill2016.com/phonebank, said coordinator Miranda Murray.
The New Orleans chapter of the party is also finalizing plans for an election-night watching party at a Mid-City bar, with an after-party to follow, Murray said. The party is also hoping to host a debate-watching event for the final debate next week, said Anika Ofori.
While the party members consider Stein to be a superior choice to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton or even Libertarian Gary Johnson, they see this election as an unprecedented opportunity for party building into the future. Stein drew 0.35 percent of the national popular vote in 2012, and was on the ballot in only two-thirds of states. This year, she is consistently polling between 2 and even 7 percent — suggesting that many more voters are open to a new option.
Further, said state party secretary Ryan Hargis, if Stein can reach 5 percent of the vote, the party will qualify for federal election funding in the next cycle that will help recruit candidate up and down the ballot. Especially in Louisiana, where Trump outpolls Clinton by 12 points and his victory is all but assured, voters frustrated with him or with Clinton can easily justify turning to a third-party candidate without worrying about throwing the outcome in an undesirable way.
“We’re going to get that 5 percent, and that’s going to make a huge difference,” Hargis said. “We’re trying to reach the vote totals we need, and we’re trying to build an infrastructure for party building.”
The New Orleans Greens have been considering making recommendations for the ballot items where Greens aren’t running — particularly the U.S. Senate race or the Constitutional amendments, said party member Bart Everson. They also noted that four of the seven Orleans Parish School Board seats are unopposed this year — including two open seats — and that the School Board should be a strong target for a Green candidate in future cycles.
“I would hope there would be a strong movement for local control of schools,” said party member John Clark, noting how grassroots democracy is one of the key pillars of the Green platform.
The party plans to raise its visibility after the election as well. Murray said she has begun thinking of ways for the Green Party to be represented on the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, perhaps in one of the more subversive or political parades.
“Don’t do anything yet. Don’t put too much time into it until after the election,” Murray said. “But after the election, we’re going to move that way.”