Terry Baum - first "write-in" candidate to qualify for general election ballot since 1968.
Terry Baum will be running for Congress against Democrat Nancy Pelosi on the Green Party ballot line - after waging California’s first successful “write-in” campaign in the last thirty years. 1,651 members of the Green Party “wrote in” a vote for Terry in the March 2nd, 2004 primary election - 46 more than were needed to qualify for a line on the November ballot. The last folks to do that were Huey Newton and the Black Panthers in 1968 on the Peace and Freedom Party ballot line, so that tells you a bit about how difficult it is to qualify for the ballot this way.
This was an incredible organizational feat by the SF Green Party: qualification via “write-in” requires that 10% of the registered voters in your party show up at the ballot booth and write your name in - not an easy process at all in a low turn out election. Especially one that offered Greens no high profile candidate in the Presidential nomination contest (apologies to Camejo, but he’s still not in Nader’s league in terms of name recognition). It shows both the depth of dissatisfaction with Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party’s support for the war in Iraq (Baum’s primary focus is opposition to the war in Iraq - her slogan is “Baum for Peace”), and the growing strength of the Green Party at the grassroots.
Local and national media, of course, have yet to take notice of the fact that Nancy Pelosi, the leader of the Democratic Party in the House, thus faces a substantial (if, admittedly, unlikely to succeed) challenge on her home turf.
There's plenty of evidence to indicate that, while the Democratic Party may have convinced a lot of folks about the logic of choosing the lesser of two evils in the U.S. Presidential race (though Nader's 7% showing in polls would seem to indicate even that has been less than perfectly successful), this has done absolutely nothing to solve it's basic problem: a huge portion of its core constituency has become convinced that the Democratic Party doesn't represent their values and interests. It merely remains for the Green Party to find the right combination of candidate, issue, and contest for a major breakthrough to happen.
Perhaps Terry Baum's campaign will be the one... who knows? In a district where the Republican candidate garnered less than 10% of the total primary vote, San Francisco's liberal voters may feel safe "sending a message" by casting a vote for Terry Baum and the Green Party as a protest against the Democratic Party's failure to display a backbone for most of the last four years.
Note: normally, a write-in campaign is the product of either incompetence (missing a deadline) or a very late decision - in Terry's case, it was neither: she announced her intention to run way before the relevant deadlines - but, since California law prevents anyone who has switched parties less than a year before filing for office from appearing on a primary ballot (she left the Democratic Party in early 2003), she had no choice but to run as a write-in, if she wished to appear on the ballot in November.
Fore more information on Terry Baum's campaign, see her web site at http://www.terrybaum.com/, and see the various articles on her campaign on the Green Campaigns web site, at http://www.greencampaigns.org/articles/Baum_Wins_03_15_04.htm and http://www.greencampaigns.org/articles/Terry_Baum_02_08_04.htm