Early State Party Ballot Qualification Efforts and Candidacies

At the same time that this discussion was taking place, individual state-by-state ballot qualification efforts were underway nationally.
On February 4, 1990, the Green Party of California (GPCA) was founded at a meeting at California State University, Sacramento. In order to qualify with the California Secretary of State for the statewide ballot, the new party would have to convince at least 78,992 Californians to change their voter register to Green Party. At the meeting 27 Green locals voted in favor of forming a state party, and three stood aside. Other Greens stayed home in protest, arguing that party formation was premature and could co-opt Green values, ultimately undermining the long-term viability of the Green movement.
This conflict came to a head at the GPCA’s second statewide meeting, which was held at Los Angeles Community College on March 25-26, 1990, where anti-party “movement” Greens came out in force. While many “movement” Greens wanted the party to be “accountable” to the movement, the reality was that functionally and legally, the new Green Party of California would be made up and structurally accountable only to its registered members; it would have no structural connection to the Green Committees of Correspondence (GCoC).
The strong debates over party formation pushed back much of the weekend’s written agenda. Ultimately delegates continued the meeting nearby at Julia Russell’s Eco-Home on Sunday evening to conclude the weekend’s business. The debates at this gathering presaged the upcoming national debate and a split within the Greens nationally between the majority favoring a party structure and a minority, led by the Left-Green Network, favoring a “movement” structure with rules/processes/mandates that would be set up to oversee any and all electoral activity. The latter would prove to be unpopular and unworkable. The idea of “accountability” to the Ten Key Values again served as a consensus commitment, but over time it was demonstrated that the structure of member-oversight set above Green campaigns and candidates and state parties was not a structure that worked. Grievances grew, and many Greens dropped out. The Greens in California went through these debates and provided models of what to do and not do to be successful.
Over the next two years, the heated debate over electoral activism became self-selecting, with those interested in party building becoming involved in the statewide voter registration drive. Mindy Lorenz provided especially effective leadership in that effort. Ultimately the ballot qualification effort succeeded, with over 103,000 Californians marking Green Party as their party affiliation on their voter registration card by the deadline of December 31, 1991.
In Alaska, Green Jim Sykes received 3.4 percent of the vote for Governor in November 1990, qualifying the Green Party there for ongoing ballot status as well, while California’s Mindy Lorenz received an impressive 1% as a write-in candidate for U.S. Congress in Ventura/Santa Barbara counties. Also in Alaska, Kelly Weaverling, running as a Green, was elected Mayor of Cordova in
Between 1985 and 1989 a total of 25 U.S. Greens ran for local office, mostly in rural Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Maine, and New Haven, CT, with seven elected. In 1990-1991, 37 Greens ran for office nationwide, with 17 elected, including six in California.


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