Pentel withdraws support for McGaa citing party conflict

Andrew Pritchard

Green Party gubernatorial candidate Ken Pentel announced Tuesday he will no longer support his party’s endorsed candidate, Ed McGaa, for U.S. Senate.

“I like Ed and I had hoped that I could continue supporting him,” Pentel said in a written statement. “But he’s still taking some positions that are in evident conflict with the Green Party platform.”

The most recent flashpoint between the two candidates started with media reports Tuesday of McGaa’s involvement in a 1980s plan to remove sewage ash from the Mississippi River banks in the Twin Cities to his land near South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

“All you people downstream, you owe me a vote in the primary. I cleared up your drinking water,” McGaa said. “And all you people in town, too, I kept it out of your backyard.”

In a statement on his campaign Web site, McGaa said the ash removal was environmentally sound and he criticized media coverage of the project.

“It’s a sign of poor journalism and arrogant politics when the media create ‘news’ in an effort to discredit a growing political party and its endorsed candidates,” he added.

McGaa has previously spoken in favor of genetically engineered crops, used his military record to campaign for veterans’ votes and made statements some Greens interpreted as calling protesting unpatriotic.

“People need to know very clearly that when they vote Green, they are voting in favor of a set of values,” Pentel said in his statement. “Ed has simply not carried himself consistently in a way that indicates an understanding of this basic principle.”

Pentel media relations coordinator Christopher Childs said he encouraged voters to use next Tuesday’s primaries to decide whether McGaa or teacher Ray Tricomo will represent the party in the Senate race.

“Ken’s pulling back has nothing to do with our feelings about Ed as a human being,” Childs said. “He’s a good man.”

But, Childs added, after his strategic errors, McGaa is no longer a strong candidate.

The Minnesota Green Party endorsed McGaa, a Sioux Indian and veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, over a challenge from delegates who feared a Green candidate would draw votes away from Democratic incumbent Paul Wellstone.

– The Associated Press

contributed to this report.