Green Party could qualify for NC 2022 Senate election ballot

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North Carolina US Senate race

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The Green Party may appear on the ballot for a US Senate election this year for the first time in recent North Carolina history.

The NC Green Party, a progressive third party that has never won a major election in North Carolina, says it has collected nearly 22,000 signatures to qualify for a spot on the ballot — surpassing the state’s requirement of 13,865. However, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has yet to finish reviewing the petitions submitted by the party and making a determination on the party’s eligibility.

Matthew Hoh, the party’s presumptive candidate for Senate, said the party will offer voters an alternative to what he views as a restrictive and corrupt two-party system.

“We would argue that the Democrats or Republicans have more overlap with each other than they do with us,” Hoh said in a phone interview with The News & Observer. “So the idea that we should just have a binary conversation about what our society is going through and the solutions to those problems — most people say that’s madness.”

Patrick Gannon, a spokesman for the board of elections, said via email that the board expects to complete its review process before the end of June.

According to the board’s petition database, the Green Party currently has nearly 16,000 valid signatures. Gannon said the board expects to receive more signatures in the coming weeks. The counties where the Green Party picked up the most signatures are Wake, Durham and Mecklenburg.

For a political party to be recognized in North Carolina, it must meet one of three requirements. The first is for a party’s candidate for governor in the most recent state election to have won at least 2% of the total vote. Secondly, a party can qualify if it was recognized in 70% of all states in the preceding presidential election. The third option, which the NC Green Party, is to file with signatures from 0.25% of all voters who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election — which works out to nearly 14,000 signatures.

The Democratic, Republican and Libertarian parties all have state recognition and will appear on the ballot this fall.

About the Green Party

The NC Green Party describes itself as an “anti-racist, feminist, pro-worker political party that supports gender equality and gender diversity and rejects capitalism in favor of a democratically run economy that responds to the needs of the community and planet.”

In 2018, the Green Party was officially recognized in North Carolina after the General Assembly voted to lower the qualification requirements for a party to appear on the ballot, The N&O reported at the time.

The party ran at least four candidates for local, state and federal elections in 2018but none of them won. US House candidate Robert Corriher, for example, received 1% of the total vote in a race won by Republican Rep. Ted Budd, now the GOP candidate for Senate. In 2020, the Green Party’s candidate for president, Howie Hawkins, received 0.3% of the vote.

In 2021, the party lost its recognition after failing to turn out 2% of the vote for its gubernatorial or presidential candidates in the 2020 general election, The N&O reported.

Matthew Hoh.jpeg
Matthew Hoh, who served in the US Marines, is the North Carolina Green Party’s presumptive candidate for US Senate. Matthew Hoh for Senate

Hoh, 49, of Wake Forest, served in the US Marines. He worked at the State Department in Afghanistan before resigning in 2009 in protest “over the American escalation of the war,” according to his campaign website.

According to federal campaign records, Hoh has raised nearly $19,000 since September of last year.

Comparing himself to Cheri Beasley, the Democratic candidate for NC’s Senate seat, Hoh said their platforms couldn’t be more different. Hoh said he is a socialist candidate who supports universal health care, housing as a human right, abolishing the Electoral College and a host of other progressive reforms.

Before Hoh can be officially nominated as a candidate, the Green Party will first have to be certified by the state elections board and then hold a state party convention to elect nominees. According to state law, the party must hold this convention before July 1 to appear on the 2022 ballot.

Michael Trudeau, the NC Green Party’s secretary, said this convention would likely by a hybrid in-person and online event, with all of the party’s members invited to attend and vote on nominees for office.

Joshua Bradley, a progressive activist running for Raleigh City Council, is a member of the state Green Party, but the Raleigh City Council elections are nonpartisan and therefore not beholden to the same ballot requirements as the US Senate seat. Bradley ran unsuccessfully for the same office in 2019.

Election chance

Chris Cooper, a political scientist at Western Carolina University, said that it is extremely unlikely that the Green Party will win, but that isn’t necessarily why they run.

“Third party candidates, of course they want to win, but for most of them the goal is about affecting the dialogue, affecting the issues that were talked about and building a party for the future,” he said in a phone interview with The N&O .

Hoh pointed to a Gallup poll from last year which found that 62% of Americans agreed that “parties do such a poor job representing the American people that a third party is needed.”

“The vast majority of people who signed our petition and spoke to us out there were people who understand that our current political system is not just broken, but corrupt, and in many ways, it is the foundation for what is a deadly status quo ,” he said.

As for the Green Party’s potential to spoil Democrats’ chances in the Senate campaign, Cooper said it’s not out of the question.

“If the Green Party pulls, say, 3% of the vote away from Cheri Beasley, that could be enough to matter in a competitive election.”

Democrats have not won a Senate race in North Carolina since 2008.

A Libertarian candidate, Shannon Bray, is also running for Senate this year.

Hoh said he rejects what he calls the “spoiler myth.”

“Compare my platform and Cheri Beasley’s platform, there’s not a lot of overlap there,” he said. “We are for universal programs of housing, of health care, of education, of jobs that just are nowhere to be found in her campaign but in the overall Democratic Party platform and more importantly in the evidence of the Democratic Party’s actions.”

As of May 2021, over 4,000 North Carolina voters were registered with the Green Party, But all of them were automatically switched to unaffiliated when the party lost its recognition in 2021, The N&O reported. In March, unaffiliated became the most popular party identification in North Carolina, with more than 34% of all voters identifying as Independent.

For more North Carolina government and politics news, listen to the Under the Dome politics podcast from The News & Observer and the NC Insider. You can find it at https://campsite.bio/underthedome or wherever you get your podcasts.

This story was originally published June 8, 2022 12:41 PM.

Kyle Ingram is an intern on the politics desk of the News & Observer. Kyle is a rising senior at UNC Chapel Hill, where he studies journalism and political science. He has previously worked for The Daily Tar Heel, NC Policy Watch and States Newsroom.

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