It Ain't Easy Being Green -- Even in San Francisco

Categories: Politics

In 2003, Green Party candidate Matt Gonzalez came tantalizingly close to knocking off Gavin Newsom in the mayor's race. It was the political equivalent of Chuck Wepner taking Muhammad Ali to the final round. The campaign was the crowning moment for the Green Party, nationwide. To restate Hunter S. Thompson's magnificent line: "We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave. So now ... you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark --that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back."

Eight years hence, the high-water mark is looking very high indeed. Gonzalez, Ross Mirkarimi, and Jane Kim are all political forces in this city. But none is still a Green. Two years ago, the Greens were forced to give up their party headquarters because the $1,200 per-month price tag was too rich. And, these days, the party faithful are gathering signatures, hoping to save their mayoral candidate the $5,000 filing fee.

It could be going better. Green Party state cochair -- and San Franciscan -- Barry Hermanson had hoped to gather 500 or more signatures at the weekend's Haight-Ashbury Street Fair. In the end, they'll be lucky to bank half that. "It's such a huge crowd," he says. Eventgoers "get a glazed look in their eye when they wander around."

Well, it is the Haight-Ashbury fair.

Plenty of candidates will be amassing signatures prior to the July 28 cutoff. But, for the Greens, failure to reach 10,000 John Hancocks and save the $5,000 -- well, it'd be a pretty big deal.

The Greens' candidate, incidentally, is Terry Joan Baum, a self-described lesbian playwright and member of "The Crackpot Crones" -- a theatrical group of "pioneer funny feminists." Research on how the term "crackpot" plays with potential voters is not currently available.

Should the goal of 10,000 signatures not be reached, Hermanson pledges the $5,000 will be raised. "She needs to be on the ballot. It's gonna happen."

But can she win? "I doubt it."

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