The Green Party comes to Minnesota, looking for new political life

Image from Dawkins for Attorney General Facebook Page

I walk into the 11:00 a.m. press conference at the Green Party's National Annual Meeting - one of the political party's biggest events of the year - and I'm a little confused. I'm normally accustomed to big rooms for these kinds of events, with chairs lined with journalists, jostling to get the best look at the candidates. But what's in front of me is an entirely different picture.

As expected, Minnesota's six Green Party candidates line a wall at the front of the room, but in front of the podium, where I expect to see the media, I instead find about 15 chairs, most empty, with a few Green Party supporters strewn about. As for the press at this press conference? I'm one of only two members who've shown up.

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It's a dark sight, but it shouldn't be a surprise. The Green Party hasn't been a political force in Minnesota for most of the past decade. The party looked to be on the rise in the early aughts, coming off of a 2000 election where presidential candidate Ralph Nader snagged more than 5 percent of the vote in Minnesota. Even local officials, like Minneapolis City councilman Cam Gordon and Park and Recreation board member Annie Young, ran on the Green platform back in 1990s, and both are still holding office today.

But that's basically been it. A Green Party candidate hasn't grabbed more than 5 percent in Minnesota since Nader in 2000. Because of that, the party hasn't qualified as a "major party" in the state for about a decade, meaning candidates haven't had access to perks like campaign subsidies or an automatic place on the ballot. Now, many voters upset about the two-party system have even shifted their preference to the libertarian-leaning Independence Party.

Maybe it's for that reason - to try to build itself back up in Minnesota - that the Green Party opted to hold its Annual National Meeting in the Twin Cities last weekend, at Macalester College in St. Paul.

I've arrived at the conference to talk with Andy Dawkins, the Green Party's candidate for Minnesota Attorney General. Dawkins was a longtime state rep, representing District 65A in St. Paul as a member of the DFL for 15 years. What makes him notable in this year's election, though, is that he's the only statewide candidate who's said no to sulfide mining, the controversial precious metal mining that could possibly damage the waters in the northern part of the state.

(Continue to page 2 to read more about Dawkins and the Green Party.)

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