(MintPress) – The Green Party, often considered an insignificant player in national politics, continues to gain ground in local political races after a disappointing showing in the 2012 presidential elections. Despite pulling just 396,684 votes, or .3 percent of the vote, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein and her running mate, Cheri Honkala, are training new party leaders, candidates and activists in advance of city elections in Madison, Wis.
Unlike their presidential campaign, Green Party candidates running in school board and mayoral elections are making a real impact. Madison, a hotbed of labor activism during the failed recall of Gov. Scott Walker, seems a likely target for the progressive party.
Stein and Honkala, two of the most important leaders in the party, are optimistic that the Green Party will have an important impact over the next two months. Two Green Party candidates are reportedly running for the Madison school board and at least six are competing for seats on the Madison city council, according to a recent posting on Jill Stein’s website.
One of the leading candidates is Sarah Manski, a teacher and businesswoman running for Madison school board. Manski has already won the endorsements of elected officials ranging from school board members to Madison’s mayor, county officials and progressive representatives in the state legislature.
Stein has called upon supporters to raise $5,000 so Manski can hire a skilled campaign organizer to help mobilize voters in the run-up to the April election. The modest sum could make a serious impact in the school board race, where donations are smaller and grassroots support can have a real impact in the outcome of elections.
Other Green Party candidates for city council include neighborhood leader Ledell Zellers (District 2), environmental advocate Barbara Davis (District 3), student activist Christian Hansen (District 8), community activist Leslie Peterson (District 12), student leader Damon Terrell (District 13), and progressive business owner Hawk Sullivan (District 15).
Several additional endorsements are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
The Green Party and other third parties have struggled to become relevant in an undeniable political duopoly dominated by the Republicans and Democrats, both supported by major contributions from corporations and wealthy individuals.
The proliferation of special interest money following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision has thoroughly corrupted the electoral process, creating a system where policies are bought by the highest bidders and candidates are beholden to the interests of campaign backers, not the general public.