Since the turn of the millennium, the Nebraska Green Party’s all-volunteer petitioning and campaigning teams have worked hard to educate voters about Green issues and make electoral gains. There have been both victories and defeats, and with each experience, the Party has become smarter, stronger, and better-prepared for the next election cycle.
A small group of activists, led by Frances Mendenhall, ran a petition drive during the Spring and Summer of 2000 to get the Green Party on the November general election ballot. Ralph Nader spoke at Creighton University in July, boosting the effort. The Nebraska Green Party ran an active campaign in all three Congressional districts, directed by Katie Fisher, our state’s campaign coordinator, appointed by the Nader 2000 campaign.
The Nebraska Green Party held its first state convention on August 29, 2000, at the Unitarian Church of Lincoln. Officers, a slate of Electors, and a post-election steering committee were elected. The steering committee guided the Party until the ratification of bylaws in 2001. Nader earned 3.51 percent of the vote statewide, about 6 percent in Lancaster and Dawes counties, and 4.01% in Douglas County. Winning this result in one of the country’s most Republican-dominated states spoke volumes about our effort — and about the growth potential for Greens in Nebraska.
After the 2000 election, the Nebraska Green Party matured into a significant political entity. Green Party volunteers gathered hundreds of signatures to put the Greens on the ballot in the state’s Second Congressional District.
In 2002, the the Nebraska Green Party officially became members of the United States Green Party, earning a vote in how the national party is run. Greens in Nebraska fared relatively well, considering the conservative trend in the November 2002 election. Steve Larrick became the first Nebraska Green Party member to win an elected office, earning more than 55 percent of the vote for a seat on the Lincoln area’s Natural Resources District board. Doug Paterson ran the first partisan race for a Nebraska Green, in which he earned more than 3,000 votes in the Second Congressional District. Frances Mendenhall and Tom Foster ran a joint race for spots on the OPPD Board. Mendenhall and Foster ran an aggressive and courageous campaign, but fell short, losing to the incumbents.
In August of 2004, the Nebraska Green Party managed to gather enough signatures to earn statewide ballot status. Steve Larrick of Lincoln had already begun his run for Congress in the First Congressional District. A few days after receiving statewide ballot access, Dante Salvatierra and Roy Guisinger entered the Congressional races in the Second and Third districts. Nebraska joined Alaska as the only state where every Congressional district had a Green party candidate. The final results of the November 2004 election were as follows:
Green Party Presidential Candidate David Cobb also received 978 votes statewide.
In this election cycle, the two state Green candidates ran for “down ticket” seats, aiming to win 5 percent of the statewide vote and retain ballot status for the Party. Doug Paterson succeeded in earning just more than 5 percent in the race for Secretary of State. Steve Larrick also ran successfully for re-election to a Lincoln area Natural Resources District seat.
|Secretary of State Candidate (Party)||Votes||Percent|
|John A. Gale (Republican)||337,189||61.32%|
|Jay C. Stoddard (Democrat)||184,684||33.59 %|
|Doug Paterson (Green)||27,987||5.09%|
|State Auditor Candidate (Party)||Votes||Percent|
|Mike Foley (Republican)||290,564||54.95%|
|Kate Witek (Democrat)||214,208||40.51%|
|Kelly Renee Rosberg (Nebraska)||24,020||4.54%|
|Steve Larrick (Green)||16,147||3.05%|
Nebraska Green Party candidates filing with the Secretary of State for 2008 elections included:
- Steve Larrick for U.S. Senate
- LaVerne Thraen for the OPPD Board of Directors, Metro District
- Doug Paterson for Public Service Commission, District 2 (Omaha)
- Scott Hoffman for Douglas County Board, District 1
- Derek Glaser for Douglas County Board, District 3
- Susan Koneck for Douglas County Board, District 5
Larrick won 7,763 votes in the Senate race, or about 1 percent of total votes cast. This was short of the 5 percent threshold needed to maintain ballot status.
Thraen earned 25,067 votes, or about 12 percent of votes cast, losing to Del Weber and Anne McGuire in a race where voters chose up to two out of four candidates.
Paterson earned 6,367 votes, or almost 5 percent of total votes cast, in his effort to become Public Service Commissioner in District 2.
In the Douglas County Commissioner contests, Hoffman earned 25 percent of the vote, Glaser won 10 percent, and Koneck won 9 percent.
2010 & Beyond
Having lost official ballot status in 2008, the Nebraska Greens turned their attention to issue advocacy and community organizing around local issues. However, the Party is once again collecting signatures to regain ballot status for the 2016 election cycle. Learn how you can support the Nebraska Greens and put a real choice on Nebraska’s ballot in the next election.
(Original text by Rick Lohman. Edited by Dante Salvatierra. Updated and maintained by Shane Pekny.)