Steve Welzer responds

Steve Welzer // Published October 18, 2008 in Green Party Watch

In an earlier postI reported that New Jersey Congressional candidate Steve Welzer would prefer that the Democrat win the race, and asked that the Democrat endorse Instant Runoff Voting, which the Democrat refused to do. I did not provide a link to the news article I based that report on. That article can be found here.

In a reply posted at the earlier report Welzer responded. Because his reply explains in detail what is a complex position, it is copied and re-posted in it’s entirety here.

The context of my remarks needs to be understood.

The person who’s running as a Democrat, Joshua Zeitz, is unusually progressive and, through, our contact during the campaign, we’ve become pretty friendly. I intend to stay in touch with him because I believe I’ll have a chance of recruiting him to the Green Party (as Hugh Esco of Georgia did with Cynthia McKinney). Meanwhile, the Republican incumbent in this race happens to be radically bad on issues like militarism, abortion rights, women’s rights, and gay rights.

The three of us participated in an editorial board meeting at the offices of the Asbury Park Press. At one point in the discussion each candidate was given the opportunity to pose a specific challenge question to another candidate. I had been hammering on the theme: “open up the electoral system to more voices and more choices” - so I posed the following question to Josh Zeitz, the Democratic: “I’ve heard you say that you’re concerned about having the Green Party candidate drain away votes from you, votes that might make the difference in a close race. In that context, I challenge you to go on record as supporting electoral system reforms like proportional representation or Instant Runoff Voting.”

I said I was running for office for the first time, have much to learn, and it’s not likely that I’ll win in this particular race. I said that, unless there is a last-minute groundswell of support for my candidacy, I’d rather see Zeitz go to Washington than to have Smith re-elected. This was in the context of leading up to: “Mr. Zeitz, if you find it problematic that the Green vote might, from your perspective, be a ’spoiling’ vote in this race, then you ought to be able to see the logic of implementing Instant Runoff Voting.”

The press reported the responses from Zeitz and Smith as follows:

“Zeitz would not endorse that plan [IRV] because he said he did not have all the details, but he would consider options that would open up American politics to third parties. ‘Third parties reinvigorate debate,’ Zeitz said.

“Smith said third parties should be included in discussions, but he would not endorse a plan to open the American political arena to third parties.”

There was then quite a bit of discussion about IRV, proportional representation, how elections are run in other countries, and why the only-two-choices American system is deficient. So the bottom line is that I managed to get a considerable amount of time of the editorial board meeting devoted to the role of third parties and ways to open up our electoral system. My remarks about probably not winning the race and preferring to see Zeitz go to Washington were brief and peripheral relative to all the points I made in favor of true and full multi-party democracy in general and Green politics in particular.

It may be that the reporter at the meeting was not sympathetic to third parties. In another article he wrote that appeared in the newspaper the next day he said very little about my participation … and the little he did say was flat-out incorrect. I’ll file a protest with the newspaper about this flawed coverage.

Steve Welzer
Green Party candidate for US Congress in NJ’s 4th CD