Green Party caucus prefers Cynthia McKinney for president

A straw poll Tuesday night showed support for McKinney with a majority of the votes.

by Andrew Cummins

While Tuesday night meant Republican John McCain secured his party’s presidential nomination and the two Democrats duked it out for delegates in Ohio and Texas, locally it meant an opportunity for the Green Party of Minnesota to throw its hat into the presidential race.

About 20 people turned out for the party’s Minnesota caucus on Tuesday night at Van Cleve Recreation Center. Straw poll results at that caucus show Cynthia McKinney won the contest handily, claiming 13 of 17 voters.

Perennial presidential hopeful Ralph Nader received one vote according to the poll, but he has said he doesn’t want the party’s nomination.

There will be a party convention June 7 and 8.

Although Minnesota state law states that nonmajor political parties aren’t required to hold a caucus, Green Party spokeswoman Rhoda Gilman said the party conducts itself as a key player.

“We have been a major party before, and our membership deserves (a caucus),” she said.

The party also held its caucus after Super Tuesday in protest of the larger parties trying to extend the presidential campaign, according to the Green Party’s Web site.

Responding to criticism that Green Party loyalists are tossing their votes away, Gilman said the party offers a platform that differs from those of the Democratic and Republican parties.

“We give a choice,” she said. “Voters don’t have a choice with the two big parties.”

Minnesota has been favorable to the party in the past, as it became the first minor party in the state’s history to get more than one candidate on a statewide ballot in 2006.

Ward 2 Councilman Cam Gordon, a Green Party member, participated in Tuesday’s caucus by making an appearance and facilitating parts of it.

Gordon, whose ward includes the University’s Minneapolis campus, said his party should be considered legitimate.

“Anything can happen on Election Day,” he said.

Party officials came into the night with plans to set new resolutions and goals to be worked on in the upcoming election.

Three resolutions will be passed on to be evaluated by the party at the state level.

First, the caucus attendees suggested the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. In addition, the two would be referred to the United Nations, alongside former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, for war crimes.

Second, they proposed there be more voter districts for Minneapolis School Board elections to ensure more voting representatives.

Third, they moved to repeal dove-hunting season.

The party, which achieved prominent status in Minnesota during the 2000 presidential election, grounds itself in grassroots democracy and tackles more issues than people think, Gillman said.

“We’re not just an environmental party,” she said.

But the party’s environmental policy drew at least one person to the event.

First-time caucus-goer Daniel Sadowsky, first-year graduate student in chemistry, was among at least five students in attendance. He said the environment is important to him, and “it’s something the two parties aren’t addressing responsibly.”

He said he is interested in Green priorities. “Whenever I see a Green candidate I usually look at them,” he said.