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]