March 16, 2010

Falling short on signatures, Williams exits

By Susan M. Cover
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA -- Maine Green Independent Party gubernatorial candidate Lynne Williams dropped out of the race for governor Monday, saying she could not get the 2,000 signatures required to get on the ballot.

click image to enlarge

CANDIDATES DELIGHT: People line up to file petitions Monday at the Secretary of State's Office in Augusta. Monday was the deadline to file signatures to qualify to campaign in the primaries.

Staff photo by Andy Molloy

It will be the first time in 16 years Maine voters won't have the option of voting a Green for governor.

Williams, a Bar Harbor lawyer, said she had more than 60 volunteers trying to get the signatures, but the effort failed.

She said the state standard that requires them to get 2,000 signatures from party members, when Greens have fewer than 30,000 total, is too stringent. Democrats and Republicans must also get 2,000 signatures, but those two parties have 250,000 to 300,000 registered members each.

"The Democrats need to collect one half of one percent of their registered voters," she said. "We need to collect 6 percent of our registered voters."

She said it would be fairer to Greens, and any other parties that try to form in Maine, to require signatures from a percentage of registered party members, not a flat number.

"I don't think we need three parties -- we need four, five or six in this state. And no new party is going to be able to get any traction as long as the law remains as it is," Williams said.

Williams said she did not use paid signature-gatherers and spread out her effort beyond areas where Green candidates have traditionally gotten support: Portland and college campuses.

Also, Williams attempted but failed to meet qualifications to use public money for her campaign, which distracted her from getting the signatures, she said.

"That was a hurdle that took away a lot of my time from organizing the campaign," she said.

A state law change, however, means the Greens will remain a recognized party in Maine, even if they do not have a candidate on the gubernatorial ballot.

"We are not required to run a gubernatorial candidate to maintain party status," she said. Instead, at least 10,000 registered Greens must vote in November election.

The party was formed in 1984 in Augusta and is the oldest Green state party in the United States.

Greens have had a presence on the Maine gubernatorial ballot since 1994, when Jonathan Carter won 6.4 percent of the vote. The party earned ballot status in 1998 after gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche earned 6.8 percent of the vote.

Since then, Carter and LaMarche have each run again, with LaMarche getting nearly 10 percent of the vote in 2006. The party stands for "10 key values," which include protecting human rights and the environment, according to the party's Web site.

Williams said she will now turn her attention to helping Green legislative candidates get elected, and to her law practice.

The Greens say they have 18 candidates who qualified to run for legislative seats -- the second-largest slate in party history.

"We made legislative recruitment a top priority this year," Anna Trevorrow, chairwoman of the party, said in a statement. "We turned our resources toward legislative seats, where we have better opportunity for success."

Monday's deadline set the field for the Democrats and Republicans running for governor. All 12 of the major candidates in both parties successfully met the deadline.

The June 8 ballot for Democrats will include: Patrick McGowan, Elizabeth Mitchell, John Richardson, Steven Rowe and Rosa Scarcelli. Democrats Donna Dion and Peter Truman did not turn in the signatures to qualify for the ballot.

The Republican ballot will list Steven Abbott, William Beardsley, Matt Jacobson, Paul LePage, Peter Mills, Les Otten and Bruce Poliquin.

Those who are running as unenrolled candidates, also called independents, have until June 1 to turn in 4,000 signatures to qualify for the ballot.


Susan Cover -- 620-7015

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