Greens serving in state legislatures

Eight U.S. Greens have served in state legislatures.  Here is a list of who they are and how they got there.

bearhj.jpgHenry John Bear - November 2017 (Maine): State Representative Henry John Bear became the second Green Party member of the Maine State Legislature, when he registered to vote as a member of the Green Independent Party on November 22, 2017. 

Bear joined fellow Green and State Representative Ralph Chapman, increasing the Green Independent Party's legislative caucus in the Maine House of Representatives to two. Chapman himself joined the Greens in September 2017.

A member of the Houlton Band of Maliseets, Bear was the first elected Tribal Member to the Maine House in November 2012.

chaprl.jpgRalph Chapman - September 2017 (Maine) - Ralph Chapman, a sitting independent member of the Maine House of Representatives (District 133) registered Green, joining the Maine Green Independent Party.

Chapman was first elected to the House of Representatives in November 2010 as a Democrat, winning by 35 votes. He was then re-elected by substantial margins in 2012, 2014 and 2016.

Owing to Maine's eight year term limit law, Chapman's time in the House of Representatives will end after the end of his current term in November 2018.

Fred Smith - November 2012 (Arkansas): Fred Smith became the second Green Party member elected to the Arkansas House, winning 100% of the vote in a two-way race against a Democrat. 

fredsmith.jpgHow did this happen? Just hours before polls closed in Arkansas a judge ordered that votes for Democrat candidate Hudson Hallum not be counted. In September 2012 Hallum was convicted of conspiracy to commit election fraud, and was forced to resign from the House. At that point he was ineligible to serve another term, but it was too late to remove his name from the ballot. Smith then went to court seeking that none of Hallum's votes be counted.  On Election Day, just before the polls closed, the judge granted Smith's request.  Had the votes been counted, and had Hallum won, that would have created a vacancy and a special election would have been held. Out of more than 20,000 votes case, only 2,905 voted for Smith.

Ironically, Hallum held the seat that Smith had held previously as a Democrat. Smith had resigned from office when charged with theft, but was later exonerated of that charge. Smith wanted his seat back but the Democrat slot on the ballot was taken so he approached the Green Party.

carroll.jpgRichard Carroll - November 2008  (Arkansas) - Green Richard Carroll was elected to the Arkansas State House of Representatives, District 39 in a race in which he was the only candidate on the ballot, winning 89.3% of the vote.  A Democrat ran as a write-in against him. 

On April 29, 2009 Carroll registered as Democrat. On May 18, 2010 he was defeated for re-election in the Democratic primary, receiving 19.7% to his opponents 80.3%, who was a sitting Democratic State Senator termed out for her seat and seeking to move back into the State House.

John Eder - November 2004 (Maine):  Green John Eder was re-elected to the Maine House of Representatives with 50.9% of the vote, becoming the first sitting Green state legislator to be re-elected. 

John-Eder.jpgAfter Eder was first elected in November 2002, Eder’s State House district was gerrymandered by the Democrat-controlled legislature, specifically to try to unseat Eder - removing Eder’s political base from his district and pitting him against a strong, three-term Democratic incumbent.

Maine Greens filed a lawsuit, alleging the plan violated the U.S. Constitutional requirement that districts be contiguous and compact, because the plan was clearly designed to protect Democratic incumbents, and that it utilized non-contiguous districts to do so. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court countered that the fact that a plan may protect incumbents or is politically motivated, does not make it invalid as long as both constitutional and statutory requirements (like the “one person, one vote” principle of the 14th Amendment) were adhered to.

Outsmarting the Democrats, Eder moved back to his old district — now called District 118 — and regained 70 percent of his base, which he parlayed to victory over another Democratic incumbent. Ironically, the Democrats’ effort to gerrymander the district appears to have created a backlash against them to the benefit of Eder, as people felt the Democrats were trying to rig the process.  In 2006, Eder was defeated for re-election. He received 48.4% of the vote.

carroll.jpgMatt Ahearn - February  2003 (New Jersey): Democrat Matt Ahearn, a member of the New Jersey General Assembly (lower house) switched to the Green Party. Ahearn switched from Democrat to Green after having been elected for the first time in November 2001 to the New Jersey General Assembly District 38 (Bergen County). 

Once in office and disgusted by the corruption of big money upon the Democratic Party’s policy agenda, Ahearn left the Democrats and became the first sitting state legislator in the U.S. to re-register Green. 

In November 2003, Ahearn was targeted and defeated by the Democrats with last minute direct mail attacks, after polling well leading into the last few weeks of a race that featured five candidates for two seats.

John-Eder.jpgJohn Eder - November 2002 (Maine):  John Eder of Portland, Maine was elected to the Maine House of Representatives, becoming the first Green to win a regular election to a State Legislative seat, winning with 66.8% of the vote in a two-way race against a Democrat in District 31. 

Soon afterwards, state Democrats tried to redistrict Eder out of a job, changing boundary lines so that he no longer lived in the district from which he was elected.  In response, Eder moved four blocks into most of his former district, now numbered District 118, and won the seat again, this time with 50.9% in a three-way race.  

Audie Bock - March 1999 (California): Audie Bock became the first U.S. Green to be elected to a state legislature, winning a March 31, 1999 special election with 50.6% to the California State Assembly, representing the Alameda/Oakland area (District 16).

Audie-Bock.jpegBock was elected in a two-way run-off race against a Democrat, after the first round failed to produce a majority vote winner among how four Democrats and one Green. Afterwards by state law, the top vote-getter in each participating party advances to a run-off. The Republicans did not run a candidate. Bock was outspent by Democrat Elihu Harris by a margin of better than 16 to 1 ($550,000 to $33,000),

In August in the same year she was elected, Bock registered ‘Decline-to-State” (i.e. no party), in large part so that she would not have to compete in California's March 2000 'blanket primary'. Under that system, each party's primary was compelled to be open to all voters, with the winner of each party primary advancing to the November 2000 General Election.

Even though Bock would have won the small uncontested Green Party primary, her total votes would have compared unfavorably side-by-side with her Democratic and Republican opponents. By contrast, independents didn't have to be on the ballot until the November 2000 General Election. 

Bock also felt she was at a significant fundraising disadvantage, having only been in office a few months before the deadline to decide on her party registration for the March 2000 primary, while her opponents had already long begun raising money and were part of larger party machines.  Therefore Bock chose to place her hopes on the November 2000 General Election. Bock lost re-election in November 2000, running as an independent.  California's open blanket primary system was eventually declared unconstitutional by the courts.