By Patrick Lovett
Boston University Statehouse Program
This article was originally published in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
BOSTON — Thanks to the showing of two Valley-based candidates on Election Day, the Green-Rainbow Party is once again an official political party in Massachusetts.
Jamie Guerin of Northampton and Juan Sanchez of Holyoke each received more than 3 percent of the votes in their respective statewide races on Nov. 6, party leaders say.
“I had no idea what to expect going into election night,” said Guerin, who ran for state treasurer. “It was an incredible moment to be a part of … it was a victory for us for sure.”
Guerin won 3.5 percent of the votes in her race, half a percent more than Massachusetts requires of major parties.
Meanwhile, Sanchez, a secretary of state candidate, won 3.8 percent of the vote in his bid for auditor.
A third Green-Rainbow candidate for auditor, Jed Stamas of Northampton, fell just short of the mark at 2.6 percent. Stamas said he was still happy to watch party members make it over the threshold needed to become an official party.
There are several benefits that accompany official party status in Massachusetts: Voters will be able to register as Green-Rainbow; the party will have its own candidate on Massachusetts’ 2020 ballot for the general presidential election; and, according to Guerin, candidates will have a larger platform and greater recognition.
“This might allow us to be taken a little more seriously,” Guerin said. “There’s more of a chance we’ll be invited to more debates — it’s not for certain, but there’s a chance.”
Now the party will work to maintain and build on their status, its members said.
“On the campaign trail, I met a lot of voters looking for a party that truly reflects their values — a world where PAC and corporate money doesn’t dwarf any individual’s vote,” Guerin said in a press release. “We live to challenge the status quo.”
The GRP, Massachusetts’ Green-Party affiliate, has achieved major status before, lost it and gained it back again. In 2000, 6 percent of Massachusetts voters selected Ralph Nader in his campaign for president. Four years later, David Cobb could not reach the threshold in the presidential race.
Most recently, three candidates gained over 3 percent of votes in their 2014 campaigns for secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor; but that status ended in 2016, when less than 2 percent of voters supported Jill Stein’s run for the presidency.
Maintaining major party status is difficult, GRP secretary Joshua Gerloff said, but the party is looking to build on its current momentum in future election cycles. In addition to the GRP success, the Libertarian Party remained an official party, as Dan Fishman won 4.2 percent of the votes for state auditor.
“We have to be active locally and get more people to run with the party,” Stamas said. “With the upcoming presidential race, we need to increase our presence and recognition.”
Before Election Day, Green-Rainbow candidates shared discontent over a decision by WGBH to hold debates with only Democratic and Republican candidates. The candidates said the station cited a lack of finances and party infrastructure as reasons for excluding the GRP.
“The voters need more education about their choices and the way that government works,” Stamas said. “People are becoming more aware of the importance of an informed electorate and informing ourselves.”
Looking forward, Guerin said she will remain active in the party, continuing its legacy of grassroots organizing.
“I think we need to grow our chapters, grow our presence in the state,” she said. “We need to run our candidates at the most local level and on up to state office.”