Benjamin Pearcy is running for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission. Thomas Meadows is campaigning for the position of Arizona State Treasurer. Anthony Goshorn is running to join the Arizona State Senate. All of them are running as candidates for the Arizona Green Party.
In spite of their ballot status, the Arizona Green Party lists these candidates as “actively opposed”. These candidates aren’t alone. Ten other candidates are running as Green Party candidates in Arizona, but are being opposed by the Arizona Green Party.
What’s going on? It’s a struggle for the identity of the Arizona Green Party, with a small number of party insiders insisting that they should have the right to approve or disapprove of state and local candidates running on the Green Party line, even when there is only one candidate for the Green Party space on the ballot. Angel Torres, the state Green Party co-chair says, “It is absolutely critical that our candidates are interviewed, vetted and endorsed by AZGP. This lets our registered Arizona Greens know that these candidates have met our standards, and are not carpetbaggers or opportunists trying to hijack our ballot line.”
A centralized political party exercising exclusive control, despite whatever local activists and candidates say – that sounds an awful lot like the kind of politics that the Green Party claims to be against.
There’s a wrinkle to the story. It turns out that a Republican, Steve May, encouraged these three candidates to run for office as Greens. Green Party activists are always complaining that Democrats and Republicans are all the same, but by that very standard, the Green Party of Arizona now looks no better.
These self-declared Green Party candidates are terrible representatives of the Green Party, to be sure. Goshorn, for example, wants to use the power of government to push worship of the Christian god in public schools.
Whose fault is it, though, that these candidates are representing the Arizona Green Party? Why were the insiders of the Arizona Green Party not working to recruit candidates of their own for these positions? If Steve May could recruit candidates so easily, why couldn’t the core officers of the Arizona Green Party do the same?
Ballot Access News complains that these candidates are tools of political manipulation: “If the Green Party had known that these candidates would be filing declarations of candidacy, the party could have recruited bona fide Greens to also file write-in declarations of candidacy, and the bona fide Greens certainly would have received more write-ins than the candidates recruited by the Republicans. But, the Green Party had no means of knowing what was about to happen, and by the time they knew, it was too late.” Of course, political manipulation is what electoral campaigns are all about. People organize to advance candidates, using strategy to promote their causes, directly or indirectly. If the Green Party of Arizona central committee had found candidates it had approved of, and given support to those candidates, Steve May wouldn’t have been able to find recruits to plug in as GOP pawns.
If the Green Party of Arizona wants to be taken seriously, it needs to get on top of its game, rather than allowing the Republicans and Democrats to use it as a political shuttlecock.