Reich as spoiler?
BY SETH GITELL
With the general election upon us, attention will now turn to the question of the Green-spoiler problem: that is, will the Green Party siphon so much progressive support away from the Democrats that Republican Mitt Romney becomes our next governor? This is a question already anticipated by Patrick Keaney, the campaign manager for Green Party candidate Jill Stein, who spoke to us last month. (See " Tolman’s Quest, " News and Features, August 30.)
" If there’s any combination of Reich and Tolman that would beat Shannon, the Democrats have to ask, what right did Bob Reich have to come into the race at the 11th hour? " Keaney asked. " If the Democrats are going to be sensitive to the spoiler argument and blame the Greens for Al Gore’s loss and Romney’s victory, if that should happen, they have to address how it’s playing out in their own ranks. "
Well, the primary numbers are in, and Keaney has a point. With 95 percent of the vote counted, O’Brien won 231,544 votes, or roughly 33 percent. But former secretary of labor Robert Reich — who got into the race in January with little chance of raising enough money to compete effectively — and former Watertown state senator Warren Tolman together garnered 299,804 votes, or 43 percent of the ballots cast. In other words, the combined efforts of " reform " candidates trounced the state treasurer by 10 percentage points.
The question now is whether those votes will go to O’Brien; Romney, who made an explicit appeal for them Tuesday night; Green candidate Stein; or Libertarian Carla Howell. Or, will these Democratic-primary voters simply stay home? What they do may have more of an impact on the final outcome than the actions of the much-vaunted independents.
Issue Date: September 19 - 26, 2002
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