Green Candidate Seeks US House Seat (UPDATE 2)
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(APN) ATLANTA — He used to help produce hits for Ace of Base and Miami Sound Machine, but now Byron De Lear, 40, has a US Congressional seat in within his reach.
If he wins, he would become the first US House member representing the Green Party.
De Lear opposes Democratic 12-term incumbent US Rep. Howard Berman (D-CA), who he paints as a Republican in Democrats’ clothing.
“There’s a perception third party candidates don’t have a chance. We’re offsetting that by getting votes,” De Lear told Atlanta Progressive News. “What we’re doing is getting voting commitments and voting blocks.”
“There’s a crisis of representation in Los Angeles in Howard Berman. 80% is opposed to the war,” yet Berman supported and funded it, De Lear said.
US Rep. Berman’s District is by far majority Democratic, 75%, De Lear says.
Thus, there is no way a Republican could ever win. Republicans are at about 20%.
So, “there’s no chance of spoilership. This could provide the perfect storm to send the first Green to DC,” De Lear says.
In other words, if De Lear takes substantial votes away from Berman, there are only two likely outcomes: either it’s enough for De Lear to win; or it’s not enough and Berman wins.
The winner needs only the most votes, not over 50%, to win, De Lear said.
“We just got endorsed by Darryl Hannah,” he adds.
De Lear seems disappointed, though, he has not gotten labor organization endorsements. “We run up against a lot of molasses,” he said. It’s apparently a sensitive issue.
There is a fierce debate among progressives over whether it is better to work within the Democratic Party to take America back for progressive principles, or whether to look to third party alternatives like the Green Party.
The prior view is promoted by organizations like Progressive Democrats of America (PDA). The latter is promoted, obviously, by the Greens.
But, the choice is not so either-or, De Lear told Atlanta Progressive News.
His campaign, no matter what, “will assist the progressive Democrats’ motivation in shifting the Democratic Party over,” De Lear said, adding, “The PDA’s need assistance.”
“If we’re able to draw attention to a need for a third party, that’s acceptable too,” he said.
The Green Party has gained national prominence in recent years by running US Presidential candidates like Ralph Nader and by being active on elections integrity issues while many Democrats were silent.
However, some have argued it is more reasonable to develop third party viability by getting Greens elected at the local level first.
This has already started in the State Legislatures, De Lear said.
There is currently a Green in Maine’s State Legislature, and a Green was elected in California recently who switched to being an Indpendent, and then, to being a Democrat after getting elected, he said. This information was confirmed with the Georgia Green Party press office.
US Rep. Berman’s record is so troubling, though, De Lear believes the time has come to move the Greens to the national level of legislative representation.
“Howard Berman actually had the bright idea to repeal the 22nd Amendment, which was term limits on the White House,” De Lear says.
Berman worked with US House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI), to give President Bush “the opportunity for a third term,” De Lear said.
“We’re talking about the Commander-in-Chief of the largest military machine of death in history,” De Lear said.
“The Bush Administration has gone totally extreme in its assault on civil liberties, and its doctrine of preemption,” De Lear said.
Electing a Green to DC instead of another Bush enabler will help shift the political dialogue in this country towards the values of working families, he argues.
“This would be a paradigm shift,” he said.
“We’ll get a lot off microphone time, even if I’m a bit of a pariah,” he said.
“Our nation is at a crossroads right now. We need some serious out of the box thinking,” he said.
Berman is the only Los Angeles area Democrat in US Congress to oppose a US exit strategy in Iraq, De Lear said.
Berman’s record mirrors that of US Sen. Joe Lieberman (D? I?-CT), who recently lost his Primary race this year.
De Lear also criticizes Berman for his support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). “California lost more manufacturing jobs than any other state,” he says.
“He has not been able to come out and say NAFTA’s been a tragedy,” he said.
De Lear worked in the entertainment industry for several years, and moved over to political work after reading some of Noam Chomsky’s writing, he said. De Lear went on to found Global Peace Solution, he said.
How does an Ace of Base producer go on to run for US Congress? “It’s kind of a cosmic joke,” he says. “But the song I produced was a remix of Lucky Love, so maybe I’m just lucky.”
CORRECTION: The original version of this article stated there were Greens in State Legislatures in Maine, Alaska, and California. We have since confirmed with De Lear, The Green Party, and two individuals that there is no Green in Alaska; however, there is one in Maine. Also, the Green who was elected in California switched first to being an Independent, and then to The Democratic Party, De Lear clarified, pointing to an Associated Press article.
About the author:
Matthew Cardinale is the News Editor and a National Correspondent for Atlanta Progressive News. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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