May 24, 2002
Party of Minnesota endorses Pentel for
governor, McGaa for Senate
Photo © Chris Spotted Eagle 2002
Ed McGaa talking with Ken Pentel (right) at
the Green Party convention before McGaa
By STEVE KARNOWSKI
Associated Press Writer
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) The Green Party of Minnesota
endorsed longtime party activist Ken Pentel as its candidate for
Saturday, but a failed push by supporters of Democratic Sen. Paul
threw a wrinkle into the third party's choice for U.S. Senate.
Delegates gave Pentel 409 votes on the first ballot,
followed by 84 for Nick Raleigh, 10 for Bruce Freeman, eight for Ray
and one for ``None of the Above.''
Pentel reminded the delegates that he had traveled the state
to help build the party and organize 12 local chapters. He said he
``passion'' among Minnesotans ``to reconnect with their democracy.''
In the Senate race, a number of Wellstone supporters spent
the day urging a vote for ``None of the Above.'' They argued that
the closest thing to a Green in the Senate, and that control of the
at stake, since Wellstone is in a tight race with Republican Norm
Democrats have only a one-seat majority.
But by the time delegates finally voted late Saturday night,
only 64 opted for no endorsement, while Ed McGaa won 221 votes and 190
supported Tim Davis. Since neither candidate had the two-thirds
to win on the first ballot, the voting went to a second ballot, where
could choose only between the two candidates. McGaa then crossed the
to secure the endorsement with 323 votes under a complicated system
allowed delegates to vote for second choices as well.
``You are the Green people, the Green tribe,'' McGaa told
the delegates after greeting them in the Lakota language. He's a Sioux
veteran of Korea and Vietnam, holds a law degree and has written books
published by Harper/Collins on spirituality and the environment.
Those calling for no endorsement said that while they don't
agree with Wellstone on everything, keeping him in the Senate is vital
causes they hold dear.
``To sacrifice Paul Wellstone by splitting the progressive
vote is too high a price to pay,'' said Greg Harman, a delegate from
Also backing Wellstone was Winona LaDuke, an American Indian
activist from Minnesota who was Green presidential candidate Ralph
running mate two years ago.
``If Wellstone loses this November, it is a defeat for the
Green Party, for all progressives, and for the agenda we share,''
in an open letter to delegates.
Among those urging the Greens to endorse their own candidate
was Pentel, who said political parties need to run candidates if
to advance their platforms.
``I want to get away from fear,'' Pentel said. ``I want to
get to the position where we are participating in what we believe in
for that. Fear is oppression. Voting for what you believe in and acting
accordingly is a liberator.''
Delegates decided not to endorse a candidate for attorney
general after no credible candidate emerged.
The Greens gained major party status in Minnesota in the
2000 election when Nader received just over 5 percent of the vote in
To keep that status which could mean hundreds of thousands of
campaign financing from the state at least one statewide
candidate needs to
poll at least 5 percent this November.
The Greens are campaigning on a platform of ``environmental
wisdom, nonviolence, social justice and grass-roots democracy'' in a
where Gov. Jesse Ventura showed that third-party candidates can win if
message catches on with the voters.
Pentel is one of the party's leading organizers and was its
gubernatorial candidate in 1998, when he received 3 percent of the vote
$17,000 budget. He could qualify for as much as $250,000 in public
funds if he
raises $35,000 from at least 700 donors.
Pentel said he felt ``pretty good'' about his own chances of
crossing the 5 percent threshold.
The Green endorsees for secretary of state and state auditor
Andrew Koebrick and Dave Berger said they're confident they'll do
better and could even win in November.
Berger, a sociology professor at Inver Hills Community
College who's running for auditor, said that in each of the state's
previous election cycles going back 20 years at least one
statewide candidate won 5 percent of the vote. He noted that the
and DFL candidates Eagan Mayor Pat Awada and state Rep. Greg Gray
Minneapolis aren't much better known statewide than he is.
Koebrick, who works in Web design for the state agency
Minnesota Planning, will be up against better-known candidates in the
Hubert H. ``Buck'' Humphrey IV grandson of the late vice
Republican incumbent Mary Kiffmeyer. Koebrick said his six years of
in state government and his work with other agencies makes him more
than his opponents.
And, in keeping with Green values, Koebrick plans to
campaign across the state this summer by bicycle.
Party officials said the convention drew 384 delegates while
another 159 voted by proxy. About half appeared to be under age 30,
of the rest middle aged. Nearly all of them were white, and party
acknowledged the need to improve on that.
``You've got to get yourself some black folks,'' said
Natalie Johnson Lee, who is black and one of two Greens elected to the
Minneapolis City Council last year. She told the delegates it's crucial
party to attract voters of color.
``You aren't going to change the world
unless you look like
the world you're trying to change,'' she said.