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Gathering at Macalester’s student center on Thursday, longtime Greens traveled from as far away as Hawaii and Maine to strategize, learn media outreach tactics, public speaking and campaigning skills.
As students on campus milled around for summer classes and programming, the Greens carried on with convention duties, posting old campaign signs for Nader and Cobb outside a meeting room.
Fulton Hanson traveled nearly 100 miles from Pine County to attend this year’s meeting. That’s a long trek for the 71-year-old, an ardent environmentalist and antiwar activist who lives in a log house in the rural county.
“A big trip for me is 5 miles,” he said with a chuckle.
Traveling to St. Paul was important, though. Hanson wanted to make sure the Greens were crafting positions on the international conflicts that have erupted in Ukraine and the Gaza Strip. Also on his agenda of important issues is the corporatization of politics and his fierce opposition to genetically modified foods.
“I want to see if I can light a fire under the Greens,” he said.
Kristine Osbakken, who is running for a seat in the Minnesota House representing Duluth, is keenly aware that getting elected to office is difficult without a large political machinery or major party status.
Osbakken, a former schoolteacher, canvassed her district over two weeks to get 600 signatures to qualify for the ballot. People were eager to support her candidacy because they are disillusioned with the current two-party system, she said.
Victory this fall would come if Dawkins secures enough votes for major party designation, Osbakken said. That would do away with the time-consuming task of gathering signatures to make a state’s ballot. Around the country, local Green Party affiliates have focused largely on securing ballot access and crafting political messages that will resonate with more voters.
“Andy Dawkins is doing such a good service,” she said. “If we can regain major party status again, or even minor party status, it allows us again to tap into the state funding. Now we have no status. … That put us at quite a disadvantage.”
Ricardo Lopez • 651-925-5044