AUGUSTA — Bolstered by Jonathan Carter’s 6.6 percent showing in the gubernatorial election, the Green Party took steps Wednesday to organize as a formal third party in Maine.
Carter and several other Green Party members signed an official declaration of intent to form a party, which would not have been possible without Carter’s showing of 5 percent or better in the four-way race for governor.
Carter, a former biology professor from Lexington Township, received more than 32,000 votes Nov. 8.
By signing the declaration of intent, the new party made it possible for individuals to register as members of the Green Party, starting immediately. The party must clear several more hurdles to be ensured a place on the ballot in 1996.
To have candidates listed as Green Party members in the 1996 primaries, the party must hold municipal caucuses before April 15, 1996, in at least one municipality in each of the 16 Maine counties.
And to be listed on the ballot for the November 1996 general election, the party must hold a state convention sometime during 1996.
Secretary of State G. William Diamond won warm applause from about 40 Green Party members at the Hall of Flags in the State House when he said it’s time to change the law requiring new parties to win 5 percent of the vote for president in a presidential election year. Diamond said it wasn’t fair to make that threshold requirement on top of the requirement that their candidate for governor or U.S. Senate win 5 percent.
“My office always has encouraged participation,” said Diamond. “I think participation is key to the whole thing.”
Diamond called the Green Party movement a success and said Maine has a proud record of voter participation and high voter turnout.
Nancy Allen of Surry said Wednesday’s festivities ended about 10 years of organizing by Maine Greens, but also signaled the beginning of an era of hard work for party members.
The party emphasizes ecological awareness and social justice.
“The time is absolutely right to form a third party,” said Allen, who called the Greens “a party for people who don’t want big, stupid government.”
“We begin the process of convincing ordinary Mainers that their best hope lies with the Maine Green Party,” Allen said. “We need to shed the yuppie, tree-hugger image. We believe that once again, with the Maine Green Party, Maine leads the nation.”
Maine is the only state east of the Mississippi River where the Green Party has been recognized.
“One of the things here that’s important to me is that bust of Percival Baxter over there,” said Jonathan Carter. “He had a vision for the state that wasn’t supported by the Legislature, and he went out and bought the land for Baxter State Park.”
Carter said the party’s declaration of intent was “only the beginning. The hard work starts now.”
“The `Republicrats’ have effectively disenfranchised many of the Maine voters,” Carter said. “The Green Party goes beyond two-party politics. It goes beyond the left-right concept.”
Several speakers said it was auspicious that the Green Party was forming on Dec. 21, the date of the winter solstice.
“The sun is returning today,” said Carter. “I think it’s appropriate that the Greens sign their intent on the day the sun is returning.”
Also speaking were John Rensenbrink and Susan Peabody, co-chairs of the party.