February 17, 2009 :: EC minutes

EC meeting at 8:45PM on Tuesday, 2-17-09 at French Social Circle
373 Main Street, East Hartford

Attendees: Co-chairpersons: Michael DeRosa and Steve Fournier; Secretary: Barbara Barry.

Develop the 2-24-09 SCC meeting agenda and plan for the 4-09 CTGP Annual Convention.

Proposed agenda for the 7PM 2-24-09 SCC CTGP meeting at Portland Senior Center
Location: Portland Senior Center, 7 Waverly Avenue, Portland, CT 06480
Facilitator: To Be Determined

A. Preliminaries:

1. (1 minute): Introductions of voting/non-voting attendees; chapters; if quorum was met; timekeeper; ground rules.

2. (2-4 minutes): Approval of tonight’s proposed agenda, any deletions or additions.

3. (4-6 minutes): Review and approval of minutes of 12-30-09 and 1-27-09 SCC meetings.

4. (2-4minutes): Review and acceptance of the minutes of the 1-19-09 and 2-17-09 EC meetings.

5. (2-4 minutes): Treasurer’s report from treasurer: Christopher Reilly.

B. Any proposals/referendums by chapters, committee.

1. Election Autopsy from Steve Fournier, co-chairperson:

Four our first meeting of 2009, having had a couple of months to reflect on the election of 2008, it seems a good time to assess our status and plan for the coming year and the 2010 election.

Vote-getting experience:

In the election of the U.S. House of Representative, Greens received less than 5% of the vote. Green candidates were excluded from most broadcast debates and largely ignored by the media. Green won ballot status in 3 districts and will be able to run candidates without petitioning in the next congressional election, but no Green candidate had a discernible effect on the outcome.

In state elections, four Green candidates in tree-way races did poorly (under 10%), even though their districts were safe for the Democrat. In the one two-way contest, the Green candidate did better at 19%. Voters for our write-ins likely were not all counted, and there were fewer than 100 recorded altogether.

Under the campaign finance law, now under legal challenge, all but one of our ballot candidates got so few votes that successor candidates in these districts are legally disqualified from public financing in 2010. They are likely to face at least one major party candidate who does qualify, and the major party opponents will spend tens of dollars for every spent by Greens, further disabling potential Green voters and guaranteeing continuation of the Democratic/Republican dynasty.

Fundraising experience:

The Greens’ five congressional candidates were barely able to raise enough to gain name recognition, and this was in sprawling districts. It is extremely unlikely that any could have raised $5000 in a much smaller state legislative district. Greens running for state office raised negligible amounts.

Greens’ fundraising problems are compounded by the fact that progressives’ natural constituency consists of the working poor, the unemployed and underemployed, and students. Greens would have to abandon principle and alter the party’s message to appeal to high-income individuals. The required $5000 private funding threshold will present little impediment to Democrats and Republicans. In fact, it appears that private campaign funds, in helping candidates meet the threshold, will continue to wield influence, but for a much smaller investment. Public funding for Democrats and Republicans, far from empowering the poor, will make it ever more likely that the needs of people without resources will be ignored.

Planning for 2010 and beyond:

Greens’ best hope of winning a seat in the state House or Senate will be a long-term project involving the recruitment of one or more well-known, popular progressives to try to turn out 10% in the first election year (the best that can be hoped for without public funding) in order to qualify for funding two years later. By the 2014 election, Greens might be able to run one or more partially funded candidates and make themselves competitive. Greens might also reasonably predict that the Democrat or Republican will face no opponent in 2010 in many districts (a third of them faced no opponent in 2008), raising the slim change that a green might garner enough votes to qualify for funding in 2012.

Recruiting candidates was difficult before publicly-funded campaigns for major party opponents. With public funding, potential Green candidates now have to be willing to run hard with a certainty of defeat, and such people are rare on the current political landscape. Candidates will have to be willing to appeal to voters to cast their sufficient money to qualify for funding. A plan for recruiting such people could be our biggest challenge in the coming year. To adapt to the public funding law, the state party might be well advised to direct all contributors to candidate committees, even if it meant strangling the state treasury.

As a pressure group or a progressive lobby, Greens are frustrated at every turn by the public financing scheme, which will always depress the Green vote. In the past, social movements have run doomed election campaigns for the purpose of widening debate and gradually attracting support. All signs indicate that, in state elections at least, support for Green issues will appear to be eroding and not growing. Public funding is likely to keep potential supporters from casting Green votes, simply because the outcome of almost every contest will be known far in advance. It won’t be possible to gauge true levels of support for social justice and environmental restoration when elections are, for all practical purposes, fixed. Debate won’t be broadened but narrowed under the new regime. Greens might also have to abandon the message that the party is running to win state contests and acknowledge that’s running to qualify for funds in a future election. To conserve the party’s sparse resources, members will have to consider, this year, whether it’s worthwhile to run candidates for state office at all, in view of these disabling laws, and whether the party might more profitably put its emphasis on local elections and national office.

C. Reports:

1. (10-15 minutes): GPUS reports from: a) Cliff Thornton, National Co-chairperson of the GPUS; b) CTGP representatives: Tim McKee and Charlie Pillsbury; c) National Committee Members: Steve Fournier, Richard Duffee and S. Michael DeRosa.

2. (20 minutes): CTGP 2-09 meetings with CT State Legislative Government and Election Committee Co-chairpersons.

3. (10 minutes): Update regarding CTGP lawsuit with the ACLU against the State of CT regarding the 2005 State of CT Campaign Finance Reform Laws. Report from Steve Fournier.

4. (15 minutes): CTGP concerns regarding the Elections Department of the CT. Secretary of State during the 11-08 election: a) votes not counted for write-in candidates for president; b) voting problems found by independent election auditors but not by the Secretary of State.

5. (5-10minutes): CTGP literature.

6. (5-10 minutes): CTGP potential goals for 2009: a) legislative goals for petitioning; b) electric rates; c) universal health care.

7. (5 minutes): Authorization of money to get the state-wide list of registered Green Party voters.

8. (10-15minutes): Volunteers for the Internal Elections Committee, Convention Committee for 4-09 CTGP Convention.

9. (2-5 minutes, each): Chapter reports.

10. Date and place for the 3-31-09, Tuesday SCC meeting. Date, place and time of next EC meeting in 3-09: to be determined.

12. Any additions

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