UPDATE, 2/24/08: He-e-e-'s back. Ralph Nader is running for president again.
Was it really eight years ago that the Green Party's Presidential nominee, Ralph Nader, was held responsible for putting George W. Bush into the White House? Ancient history, I know, (and the Supreme Court had something to do with the outcome), but a visit to the Wayback Machine shows that Nader did pull 2.8 million votes from Al Gore (who still won the popular vote, for those of you keeping score and old grudges).
Could history strike again? No predictions; but keep in mind that Wisconsin primary voters will also see the state's hardy Green Party contingent choosing delegates to the party's nominating convention.
Only you won't find Green Party candidates on Tuesday's Racine County -- or any other county's -- primary ballot. To be considered a "major" party, and thus included on statewide ballots, a political party must receive 10 percent of the vote in the previous statewide election. The closest the Greens came was in 2006, when Secretary of State candidate Mike LaForest received 92,587 votes, 4.46%. (The winner, Doug LaFollette, got 1,184,720.) The last "minor" party to be listed on a statewide ballot was the Libertarian Party, which lost that status in 2006.
Nonetheless, Wisconsin will send 24 delegates to the Green Party nominating convention in Chicago, July 10 to 13, joining 812 delegates from around the country to choose the party's nominee.
Wisconsin Greens will choose among the party's four presidential hopefuls (can we even use that word?) in March, not this Tuesday. And they'll do it by mail.
Roughly 400 paid-up members of the Green Party will receive ballots containing the names of the four candidates: Jesse Johnson, Cynthia McKinney, Kent Mesplay and Kat Swift.
Meet the candidates after the break.
Although Nader has formed a Presidential Exploratory Committee, and there is an active Draft Nader Committee, he has not declared in time to be on the Wisconsin ballot. Should he declare that he is seeking the nomination before Wisconsin Greens send in their ballots, they can write in his name.
"We've got some outstanding candidates this year," said Cindy Stimmler, party co-chair. "Mesplay and McKinney have already visited our state, and we warmly welcome all of the candidates."
For more information, visit the party's website.
Green Party Presidential Candidates
Jesse Johnson is co-chair of the Mountain Party of West Virginia, which became affiliated with the Green Party last July. He produced, directed, and acted in many plays and films, and founded Talkback, Children Respond to Violence in the Media, which uses the arts to teach inner-city elementary school students how to combat violence. He was the Mountain Party's candidate for governor in 2004 and U.S. Senate in 2006.
Cynthia McKinney was elected to the Georgia state legislature as a Democrat in 1988 and to Congress in 1992. She was the first African-American woman from Georgia in the House of Representatives, serving from 1993 to 2003 and 2005 to 2007. Last year, she left the Democratic Party and registered as a Green.
Kent Mesplay has been a registered Green since 1995 in California, serving as a delegate to the Green National Committee since 2004. He has worked as a teacher and an air quality inspector. In 2004, he ran in the Green Presidential primaries and caucuses, and in 2006, in the Green primary for U.S. Senate.
Kat Swift is a member of the Green Party of Texas, and served on the State Executive Committee and as co-spokesperson for the national party's Women's Caucus. She works as an accountant. In 2007, she became the first Green to run for the City Council of San Antonio.
Draft candidate Ralph Nader has been a long-time advocate for consumer rights, environmental causes, product safety, and greater government and corporate accountability. He helped to pass numerous reforms, including the National Automobile and Highway Traffic Safety Act, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Consumer Product Safety Act. In 1996 and 2000, he was nominated as the Green Party's Presidential candidate.