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The Coastal Packet

The longtime national journal, Progressive Review, has moved its headquarters from Washington DC to Freeport, Maine, where its editor, Sam Smith, has long ties. This is a local edition dealing with Maine news and progressive politics.

3/15/10

LYNNE WILLIAMS WITHDRAWS FROM GOVERNOR'S RACE (AND A BRIEF COURSE IN HOW THE DEMOCRATS SCREW THE GREENS)

LYNNE WILLIAMS - I am suspending my campaign for governor, and will instead focus my energies towards building up our party by helping to elect Green Party candidates for state, county and local office.

Despite having more than 60 volunteer petition circulators working on my behalf, we fell short of the required 2,000 signatures from Green Independent Party members needed to put my name on the Party's primary ballot.

The party's candidate recruitment efforts were very successful. We have quality candidates who can win elections, and who will make a major difference in Augusta. Strong local candidates are the backbone of any political party, and our efforts on behalf of these local candidates will do more to build the party than a gubernatorial race would have.

A major problem in my campaign's signature-gathering effort was physically locating the small number of Maine voters who are enrolled in the party. While Democrats and Republicans have several hundred thousand party members from whom to solicit a signature, the Green Independent Party has fewer than 30,000 active voters. In addition many of those on the list are young, urban and mobile – including a high percentage of college students – who had joined the party four years ago and have since moved.

Green Independents from 93 towns and all 16 counties signed those forms in the 74 days we had to gather the signatures. But it was slow going. It was hard to find our members. Not only had many of them moved, but with the popularity of cell phones, only about a third of them had listed phone numbers.

In addition to voter apathy, our volunteers were also initially diverted from signature gathering by the additional requirements of the Maine Clean Election Law, requirements imposed by the Legislature in 2009, after I announced my candidacy.

By eliminating the requirement that parties had to run a gubernatorial candidate in order to maintain party status, the Democrats made it clear they did not want a Green Party candidate for governor on the ballot this year, and furthermore, if there was a Green Independent candidate, they did not want that candidate to be well funded. So they also made major changes to the Clean Election Law that discouraged small parties from taking advantage of that process.

The most onerous change was the new requirement that Clean Election candidates for governor must raise $40,000 in private funding – under much stricter requirements than those imposed on traditional gubernatorial candidates – before qualifying for public funding.

Basically the Legislature said that in order to not be dependent on private campaign funds we had to be dependent on private campaign funds. It's an illogical requirement that flies in the face of the intent of the law and is disrespectful of the citizens who voted to approve the Clean Election Act.

On top of that, the $40,000 had to come from Maine registered voters, who are already paying for the Clean Election Act through their taxes. Thus those who supported the law were subjected to a system of double taxation if they wanted the law to work as intended. This was an irresponsible act on the part of the Democratically-controlled Legislature.

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