Green candidate plays down strong level of
By Josh Richman
November 07, 2002
Green gubernatorial candidate Peter Miguel Camejo of
Walnut Creek made a historic showing in Tuesday's election,
capturing 5.3 percent of the vote. Those 345,777 votes are a
milestone -- the 1998 Green gubernatorial candidate, former
Democratic Rep. Dan Hamburg, got just 104,117 votes, or 1.3 percent
-- but not a guarantee of future success, he acknowledged Wednesday.
"There's no question we have made some important headway here ...
but we also had the wind at our back because of the unpopularity of
both major-party candidates," Camejo said.
"There were one-time
advantages we had this time that won't be there the next time
Bob Stern, president of the nonprofit, nonpartisan Center
for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles, agreed: "I don't think this
means the Green Party will be building on it -- I think they'll be
very lucky in four years to do as well.
"This is an amazing
showing, but on the other hand, the reason for the showing is people
just didn't want to vote for Gray Davis," Stern said. "People
(voting for Camejo) felt they weren't wasting their vote because
they assumed Davis would win. If people had known there would be
only a five-point difference (between Davis and Republican Bill
Simon), there would've been fewer votes for the Green Party
candidate." Camejo said that's why Greens must strive to implement
instant-runoff voting, in which voters rank candidates in order of
choice. If nobody wins with a majority of first-choice votes, the
last-place candidate is dropped and ballots are recounted with the
dropped candidate's votes counted for their second choices. This
prevents "taking a vote away" from a major party candidate but lets
voters choose freely.
Such a system would've vastly increased his
support this year, he said: "Probably for every vote we got, there
was one person who wanted to vote for us but voted for Davis to stop
Camejo said he believes progressive Democrats are willing
to discuss carrying legislation for this new voting system.
"the Green Party has to overcome structural difficulties," he said. "We've
got to get a statewide office open with full-time staff, and
we've got to increase funding. Those are issues I'm going to be
working on during the next few years." Camejo's strongest support
came from counties of Mendocino, where he earned 16.3 percent of
the vote; San Francisco, 16 percent; Sonoma, 13.1 percent;
Santa Cruz, 12.3 percent; Marin, 12.1 percent; Humboldt, 11.9 percent,
and Alameda, 11.1 percent. He earned 6.3 percent
in Contra Costa.