Why this Colorado Green Party ‘dissident’ won’t support his party’s US Senate nominee

Why this Colorado Green Party ‘dissident’ won’t support his party’s US Senate nominee

 

San Miguel County Commissioner Art Goodtimes— he provided the photo above— is the only Green Party member elected to a partisan public office in Colorado. But, he says, he is not supporting Arn Menconi, his party’s nominee for U.S. Senate.

He would rather see Greens run and win in local elections rather than go for big ticket races just to play the spoiler, he says.

“I’m kind of a dissident with the Greens,” Goodtimes told The Colorado Independent. “The Green Party and I don’t see eye to eye on strategy.”

Menconi, a social justice advocate and former Eagle County commissioner, won the Green Party’s nomination for U.S. Senate at the party’s state convention in April. His profile sharpened after the Democratic state convention, when Bernie Sanders supporters booed incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet who is a superdelegate for Hillary Clinton.

But Goodtimes, who is a writer, poet, basket weaver and potato farmer living on Colorado’s Western Slope, had to tell Menconi he will not be voting for him.

“I think Michael Bennet is a better choice than the Republican choice, and pretty much in a two-party system where the minor parties just usually only play spoiler roles it doesn’t make much sense for us to run somebody who is actually going to hurt the progressive choice,” Goodtimes says. “So I told Arn I’m not supporting him on this race.”

The Green Party has about 10,000 members in Colorado. For comparison, the Libertarian Party, which also has a candidate in the U.S. Senate race, has about 25,000.

Goodtimes says he knows Bennet and Menconi personally and says Menconi is a credible candidate and is qualified to be a U.S. Senator. That said, he doesn’t think his candidacy in this particular race is a wise strategic move on behalf of the Green Party. He worries all the party energy goes to those high-office candidates and starves the grassroots.

“My analysis is he’s only going to play a spoiler role,” says Goodtimes, who admits he’s seen as “the oddball out” by state Green Party officials.

For his part, Menconi says the Goodtimes assessment isn’t news to him. He knows and respects Goodtimes and talked to him about all this last summer.

“This isn’t a story that’s in my windshield,” Menconi says. So instead, he’d rather talk about why he’s running— and about the photos registered Democrats across Colorado have been sending him with “Arn Menconi” scrawled above Bennet’s name on their mail-in ballots.

Menconi says he believes Bennet has worked with Goodtimes on local county commission issues and Goodtimes might not want to disrupt that.

“The simple bow around it is: I have gotten so much support in the last couple months that I could not have predicted at such a quick level,” he says. “Because … the voters feel their elected officials are not supporting [them].”

Colorado Green Party Co-Chair Andrea Merida says while Goodtimes is well-respected as an elder statesman of the Green Party throughout Colorado and the nation, she doesn’t agree with his analysis, which she characterized as “vastly different” from the rest of the state party.

“I respect his opinion, I just don’t agree with it,” she told The Independent. Menconi, she says,  “is the kind of leadership we need in Colorado for the Green Party, with all due respect to Art Goodtimes.”

Throughout his U.S. Senate bid, Menconi, a 56-year-old father of two and the founder of SOS Outreach, has been doing intense outreach for the Greens, building coalitions, and bringing in new members, according to Merida.

“His e-mail list is exploding, his social media list is exploding,” she says.

In April, Bennet came out against the ColoradoCare universal healthcare initiative that will be on the ballot in November. Menconi pounced, harnessing progressive frustration toward Bennet on social media. When Colorado’s largest labor union took a pass on endorsing Bennet, it allowed Menconi to capitalize on the move.

“For 20 years Colorado has played this same game: Right of center or left of whatever,” Menconi says. “On the big issues that affect the future of our children, [the Democrats] are not fighting.”

 

[Photo credit: Jonathan Rolande via Creative Commons in Flickr]

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

5 Comments

  1. Scott on said:

    One aspect this article doesn’t touch on, is that most states have various requirements for being a qualified political organization, a minor party, or a major party. Running a candidate for a statewide or national position, and getting a certain percentage of the vote while doing so, is usually a requirement to retain one’s position, or to advance. If the Green Party stopped running candidates for senate or governor, they would disappear from most states’ ballots, and their local candidates would be forced to collect petitions every election to qualify to run as independents. While it’s easy to understand how local candidates might want more party money coming their way, running statewide or national candidates, and getting them voted for, is a burden the states have imposed on third parties, so those laws would have to be changed before Mr Goodtimes’ strategy could be taken very seriously.

  2. Art Goodtimes on said:

    Sen. Bennet and his aide John Whitney have been great partners in securing public lands in the Ophir Valley, supporting wilderness, working on preserving the Dolores River as a protected watershed. I disagree with his stance on ColoradoCare, but then I disagree with my own party on strategy.

    While I appreciate Carey Campbell’s long and informative response, I don’t see doing the failed American third-party strategy of running candidates for state and national that always lose as a larger future-focused vision, but a poor strategy to win elections.

    Our first Key Value and one of European Greens three pillars is Grassroots Democracy. We ought to be working at the local level, building the party from the bottom up, rather than trying to offer great candidates who never get elected.

    At the local level, Greens can win and get elected to office. I’ve done it four times on the county commissioner level.

    And make significant changes, like San Miguel County’s first apology to the Uncompahgre Utes for their illegal forced removal at gunpoint from our county lands to Utah 135 years ago — an apology that the Utah tribal members accepted. We hope it will be the beginning of a process of reconciliation that is necessary if America is ever to be at peace after its genocidal policies against indigenous peoples of this continent, as Walter EchoHawk explained at the BLM’s 200th anniversary conference at CU’s Center of the American West.

    I got that process started as an elected Green official, not a failed candidate.

  3. Ed on said:

    I am offended by labeling those who vote their conscience as “spoilers.” You always get what you got if you always do what you did.

  4. Cari Christopher on said:

    No Green worth his or her salt buys into the whole “spoiler” argument. It’s a false narrative and anyone spouting it should not be considered Green, but rather “disgruntled Democrat”, regardless of his/her election success.

    Hundreds of Greens are already serving in elected office across the nation. When people start calling for only running locally, it’s a sure sign they do not understand the electoral system…again, regardless of election success. It seems too many people have no clue about politics, so let me give one reason why it’s not only prudent, but necessary to run the “big” races:
    In many states, ballot access for third parties, Green included,depend on a certain percentage of a state wide vote, such as president, governor or US senate.

    All those down ballot candidates depend on the BIG races in order to get ANY votes at all. Anyone who runs in the Green Party should know this.

  5. Art Goodtimes on said:

    Scott and Cari are correct that in our crazy patchwork quilt of election laws some states require putting up state and /or federal candidates to maintain party status. Colorado isn’t one of them.

    While Greens like to brag that they have “hundreds” of elected Green officials, the vast majority of them were elected in non-partisan (mostly municipal) elections where people appear on the ballot by their names, not by parties.

    There are over 3000 counties in the U.S., and there are a minimum of three (and sometimes many more) commissioner-equivalent offices in each county. How many elected Greens are there among over 10,000 of these offices? Not even 1%.

    To be a successful political movement in the U.S., the Green Party has to reach out to more than the tiny percentage of its membership to win electoral office. I believe a strategy of Building the Party from the Bottom Up has a far better chance of success than running losing state and federal candidates — where in 18 years, we’ve yet to win even a handful of elections.

    As to the spoiling argument, one doesn’t have to be psychologist to identify the denial syndrome in folks who refuse to see how taking votes away from progressive-leaning (if indeed not perfect and often less-than-optimal) candidates helps elects conservatives — as happened in 2000 when the Greens helped elected Bush to the presidency (there were certainly other factors, to be sure, but Nader’s run was a contributing factor without question — except among certain Greens).

    See Eric Alterman’s prescient article from October 2000 in the Nation: http://www.thenation.com/article/not-one-vote/

    I know this discussion is painful for some, and many have responded in anger, but it’s a discussion that needs to take place. And as a four-time partisan-elected Green, I feel it’s my responsibility to the party to raise it.

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