Our Interview with Matt Thieke

As we wrap-up our election coverage this week, we had the chance to ask Matt Thieke a few questions about his run for Governor of New Jersey. As the Green Party nominee, Thieke finished 5th with about 12,200 votes or 0.54% of the total.

TPW: What first inspired you to become a member of the Green Party?

Matt Thieke: Ralph Nader running for President in 2000. I had heard of the Greens before and voted for Nader in ‘96 as a protest. When I saw that he was running a serious campaign in 2000 to build the party, I jumped on board.

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TPW: Are you happy with how your campaign went? Any regrets?

Matt Thieke: Absolutely. I certainly was in the race. [I’ve always wanted to say that!]

I’m happy we came in 5th (ahead of 5 other candidates), and got over 12,000 votes. Since we spent less than $3000, it means each vote “cost” us only about 25 cents!! Compare that to Corzine and Forrester who combined to spend about $35 per vote. Also, Hector Castillo had hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet got only twice the amount of votes as I did. And the Libertarian also had a budget many times that of mine, yet only got 15,000 votes.

Therefore, my regrets are that we didn’t have more money and organization.

My other “regrets” concern the political landscape in NJ. It’s regrettable that voter turnout was only 45% (it keeps dropping!), and that only 3% voted outside the two party system.

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TPW: If you had been allowed to participate in the debates, how much of a difference do you think that would have made?

Matt Thieke: Big difference. Castillo and Pawlowski got to debate Corzine and Forrester on TV (and each other on TV a second time), and they finished 3rd and 4th. The media is a big part of the problem!! They perpetuate the two-party system.

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TPW: What was your favorite part about being a candidate for Governor? Can you offer some tips to anyone else who might be considering entering an uphill race like this one?

Matt Thieke: It was fun to get out and actually meet people and say who I was. People were much more receptive and sympathetic than I thought they might be. It was fun speaking in front of high school and college students.

Advice: Don’t get discouraged or build up too high an expectation. There’ll be good days and bad days campaigning. Don’t take things personally. Most of all, get help!! Not just money, but people you can depend on! You need someone to answer your mail and emails, keep a “to-do” list and calendar, and manage the people who offer to volunteer.

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TPW: Could you ever see yourself seeking public office again in the future?

Matt Thieke: Yes, I probably will run again.

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