The first Green Party candidate in the nation elected to a state legislature has decided to forsake that political distinction and embrace another form of green: campaign money.
Audie Bock, who won a seat in the California Assembly by a razor-thin margin in a special election this past spring, has bolted from the Greens and changed her voter registration to independent, citing irreconcilable differences with the upstart liberal party.
Bock said she made the sudden switch in order to put up a better fight for her political survival. As a Green, she said, it would be virtually impossible to raise the money she will need to get reelected next year because the party shuns contributions from corporations and other interest groups. And California Democratic leaders, who were humiliated after she defeated their well-known candidate in the party's Oakland stronghold, are vowing to snatch the legislative seat back at all costs.
"The money is a major factor," Bock said yesterday. "I'm caught in a bind." She already has accepted contributions from two oil companies, an act considered heresy by many Greens.
Bock, 53, a single mother and film scholar who teaches at a community college, pulled off a stunning upset in March. Running for public office for the first time, and outspent 20 to 1, she defeated former Oakland mayor Elihu Harris. Her slogan was, "Vote Green, Not Machine," and many party members tirelessly volunteered to canvass Oakland to help her squeeze out the victory.
The Greens, whose members hold about three dozen municipal offices around California, sound betrayed by her decision, even though Bock says that she still supports many of the party's ideals. "We're definitely disappointed and upset," said Michael Rochmes, who organizes for the Greens on the University of California's Berkeley campus. "This was an important precedent for us."
Democratic Forum: No Winner, No Loser
A draw. That is the assessment New Hampshire Democrats surveyed about the performance of Vice President Gore and Bill Bradley in Wednesday night's forum, according to CNN-Gallup poll released yesterday.
Of those who said they're likely to vote in the state's Democratic primary Feb. 1, Bradley had 48 percent support and Gore 46 percent, a statistical tie. The poll also found that both have the same favorable ratings of 75 percent.
Four out of 10 who saw Wednesday night's town meeting thought Gore did a better job, about the same number that thought Bradley did a better job, the poll found. But when it came to who had the best chance of defeating Republican front-runner George W. Bush, 51 percent said Gore and 35 percent Bradley. Other New Hampshire polls have suggested that Bradley would be more successful against Bush because of his appeal among independents.
Public perceptions of the two candidates showed differing areas of strength. Gore was given higher marks for understanding the nation's problems and appearing presidential. Bradley was given more credit for having new ideas and not being a typical politician.