Nearly everyone, it seems, is complaining about the sorry choice Californians have this year in the race for governor. Democratic Gov. Gray Davis is a bland, professional fundraiser, willing to take money from any source and reward it in kind. Republican Bill Simon is a shady businessman whose family investment firm has been found guilty of fraud and fined $78 million—not exactly a credential you want in this season of middle-class backlash against the nation’s corporate leaders. Who you don’t hear or read about in the press—mainstream or tributary—are the third-party candidates. That’s because those candidates don’t have money. And that’s because those who deliver obscene amounts in campaign contributions are not going to waste it on candidates who have little chance of winning. And it takes money to get your message out if you hope to win. And only after your message is delivered will the press will pay attention to you. But since only Democrats and Republicans receive those grotesque campaign offerings, they are the only parties we have to choose from. It’s a political paradox. We can break that cycle, at least on a local level. That’s because Green Party candidate Peter Miguel Camejo is bringing his campaign message to Chico this Saturday, Sept. 14, at the Chico City Council chambers at 411 Fourth St., beginning at 7 p.m.
Back in the late 1960s, Camejo, then a student UC Berkeley, was called one of the 10 most dangerous men in California by then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. Today he is running for governor as the Green Party candidate and he laughs about Reagan’s labeling of him. “It was the anti-war movement in 1969,” he told me in an interview last week. “It was a different time. [Reagan] put one sentence down for each of the 10. For me he said, ‘Present at all anti-war demonstrations.'” That’s what made you dangerous? “Apparently, in his book.”
Why is he running? Doesn’t he realize he doesn’t have a chance? “When I went to high school here in the United States,” he said, “I was told if you disagree with the government of America, you could run for office, that you could change the way things are. That’s what democracy is. But when we run for office they call us spoilers because the two major parties don’t allow us really free elections.” He said he is also running for governor to help build the Green Party, get local candidates elected and fight to be included in the debates. He is included in a Sept. 17 debate, one that Davis has yet to agree to attend. “We want to break down the door and get out so that people know about us and to increase the votes the Greens are getting. I believe if I could be in three televised debates, it is conceivable that I could win the way Jessie Ventura won in Minnesota.” Camejo said he’d like to see instant run-offs at the state and federal level to ease the apprehension of voters who hesitate to vote Green for fear of helping elect the candidates they want the least. Remember what happened in the Florida presidential race in 2000, where some say Ralph Nader tipped the vote away from Al Gore?
“I think there are so many voters turned off that, if there were any alternative candidate people could recognize, that person could win. If I were on three televised debates they would say, ‘OK, here’s a guy with common sense, [who] is not corrupt and has no negatives.’ And I would have a great opportunity to win. But Davis will do everything he can to prevent that from happening. He thinks he can win the election because the people don’t know about the opponents.”
Camejo will also be appearing earlier in the day Sept. 14, at 2 p.m. in Chapmantown at the Dorothy Johnson Center on 16th Street at the Multicultural Diversity Fair. And the Green Party will host a number of speakers outside the council chambers beginning at 5 p.m. Come out and see Camejo—he’s an energetic, intelligent and witty (and legitimate) candidate for governor. Or stay home, help continue the status quo and keep complaining about the two main-party candidates running for governor this year. The choice is yours.