Green Party nominates Jill Stein for president at Baltimore convention

Delegates show their support for presidential candidates Dr. Jill Stein and actress Roseanne Barr at the Green Party presidential nominating convention in Baltimore, Md., July 14, 2012.
JONATHAN ERNST | REUTERS
Delegates show their support for presidential candidates Dr. Jill Stein and actress Roseanne Barr at the Green Party presidential nominating convention in Baltimore, Md., July 14, 2012.
Posted July 15, 2012, at 5:59 a.m.

A Massachusetts physician was formally nominated to be the Green Party’s contender for the U.S. presidency Saturday afternoon at the downtown Baltimore Holiday Inn.

Jill Stein, who was the expected nominee, beat out actress Roseanne Barr handily. Stein amassed a majority of delegates’ votes just before 4 p.m. at the Greens’ annual national meeting, which opened Thursday at the University of Baltimore before moving near the Inner Harbor for Saturday’s presidential nominating convention.

It was the first national political convention in Baltimore since Democrats nominated Woodrow Wilson in 1912.

“We are the 99 percent, and this is the year we take our country back,” Stein said to the crowd gathered in a conference room off the hotel’s lobby. Organizers said Saturday that about 350 people registered to attend the national convention.

Stein garnered 193.5 votes from delegates, and Barr collected 72, according to preliminary tallies. There were 294 delegates present for the nominating convention, organizers said. One delegate split his or her vote between Stein and a minor entrant, they said.

“Voting for either Wall Street candidate gives a mandate for four more years of corporate rule,” Stein said in her nomination speech, lumping President Barack Obama and his opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, as candidates beholden to commercial interests.

Stein’s address outlined her Green New Deal, a policy plan with planks including forgiving student loan debt and placing a moratorium on foreclosures and evictions. The current two-party system is broken, said Stein: “That’s why I say I’m practicing political medicine because it’s the mother of illnesses.”

As Stein drew to a close, the crowd began cheering, “Let Jill debate.” The chant reflected the challenges the Greens face now that their candidate has been chosen.

Stein and her running mate, anti-poverty advocate Cheri Honkala, want to be recognized on ballots across the country and to be given the opportunity to face off against the mainstream competitors.

To get the Stein-Honkala ticket on ballots in Maryland, the Greens need to submit 3,000 signatures to the state elections board by Aug. 6, said Brian Bittner, chairman of the Baltimore City Green Party and lead local organizer for the convention.

About 4,000 people have already signed petitions, which the Greens intend to submit to the elections board next week, he said. If fewer than 3,000 of those are certified, there’s still time to gather more, he said.

“We’ve nominated a really great candidate for president,” Bittner said. And the convention went off without a hitch, he said: “Everybody had a really good time.”

Convention participants seemed prepared to return to their home states and fight for their candidates to be represented.

Tara B.P. Colon, a Honkala supporter from Philadelphia representing the Poor People’s Economic Human Rights Campaign, said she was determined to find a way to have Greens participate in debates with Obama and Romney.

“Whether they want us there or not,” Colon said. “Even if I personally have to break down the doors to get us in.”

Before Stein took the stage, Honkala told the crowd about her conversion from homeless mother to politician. Last year, she ran for sheriff of Philadelphia, promising she would not evict people from homes that had been foreclosed upon.

On the cold winter night she decided to occupy an abandoned, heated house to keep her son alive, Honkala told the crowd, “my hunger for justice was born.”

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