Utah Greens Battle for Name

Wounds from the Nader/Green split of 2004 continue to fester in several states around the country. In some places there are internal struggles for power and in others, such as Utah, two different parties have emerged to fight for the right to use the word “Green” in their name…

It’s hard enough being a minority party that has to struggle to get attention, but Utah’s Green Party also has identity issues.

There are now two groups known as the Green Party of Utah, and they’re both actively involved in state politics.

One is a political party registered with the state of Utah. The other is a nonprofit organization that is connected with the national Green Party and plans to run candidates under the banner of “Desert Greens.”

The party split stems from the 2004 elections, when the state Green Party—there was only one then—was divided over its presidential nominee and ultimately lost its ballot access because its candidates didn’t receive enough votes.

The schism mirrored a debate going on nationally over whether to support David Cobb, the Greens’ nominee for president, or endorse consumer activist Ralph Nader, who ran as an independent.

Because of the disagreement, the Green Party did not have a presidential candidate on Utah’s ballot. Nader—who has carried the Green Party standard in the past—was on the ballot, and even received 11,305 votes.

That absence probably hurt the party’s ballot access status, said Desert Greens member and candidate Tom King. To stay viable in Utah, a political party must have a candidate that receives votes totaling at least 2 percent of the votes cast for U.S. House of Representatives candidates.

In 2004, that meant about 14,000 votes, but the closest any Green Party candidate got was about 6,000 votes, King said.

Since then, two groups mounted petition drives for the 2,000 signatures needed to re-establish Green Party ballot access, which would allow them to run candidates for office.

The Green Party political party is going to challenge the Desert Greens’s status, however, said party co-coordinator Jeff Beardall.

The election code “says that a political party has to have a name that is uniquely identifiable,” Beardall said. “Containing the word ‘green’ is not uniquely identifiable and could create confusion. That will be a problem.”

King said he isn’t worried about two Green Party groups being confusing.

“Maybe a little bit more than politics are to people, but probably not incredibly so,” he said. “There’s a very definite difference.”

The Desert Greens have maintained their affiliation with the national Green Party and have also registered “Green Party of Utah” as a trademark, King said—but they didn’t get their petition in first, so in the eyes of the state Elections Office the name belongs to the other group.

“We can’t do anything about it unless we have a lot of money for attorneys, which we don’t,” King said.

The Desert Greens will have four candidates on this year’s ballot: King, who is running for the state House of Representatives; Deanna Taylor and Chuck Trip, who will seek Salt Lake County Council seats; and Julian Hatch, who will run for U.S. Senate.

The Green Party political party will also have candidates on the ballot, Beardall said, but the nominating convention hasn’t been held yet.

Filing for the Nov. 7 election continues through Friday. Offices that will be on the ballot include U.S. Senate, U.S. Congress, seats in the state Legislature, and several county and school board posts.

In addition to Republicans and Democrats, candidates registered so far include several representatives of the Libertarian and Personal Choice parties.

5 Responses to “Utah Greens Battle for Name”

  1. Freelancer Says:

    I think this is the problem with a lot of third parties. They disagree and split up and make the party weaker or nonexistant.

  2. Seth Anthony Says:

    There’s also the three “Libertarian” parties registered in the state of Florida: http://election.dos.state.fl.us/online/parties.shtml

  3. Stuart Richards Says:

    If the Greens implode nationally, we Libertarians will emerge as the only logical alternative to the duopoly.

  4. Rich Moroney Says:

    Forming a political party in Florida basically requires just filing some paperwork. Given that’s so, I’m a little surprised there aren’t even more “parties” listed than there are.

  5. David A Spitzley Says:

    Not for the first time, I wish Cobb and Nader had just taken each other out in a cage match in early 2004 and left the Green nomination to somebody else.

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