The Southwest Ohio Green Party’s
1990’s to 2000
There was a Green Party in Ohio and Cincinnati in the 1990’s but it mostly didn’t work on political issues so instead concentrated on running educational programs and forums. The coordinating committee of that Cincinnati Green Party didn’t participate in the 1996 effort to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in Ohio, but the person who led that effort in Cincinnati, on the 1996 Nader Campaign from SW Ohio (Gwen Marshall), went on to found the Southwest Ohio Green Party (SWOHGP) when the Ohio Green Party was being re-formed. Between 1996 and 2000, there were several statewide Green Party meetings involving the debate of whether the Green Party should be an ‘association of State Green Parties’ working on political campaigns or a nationally led group which held itself above political campaigns. No overwhelming decision was reached, so a small group of folks met in Columbus in 2000 to plan the effort to get Ralph Nader on the ballot in 2000 and this became the starting point of the current Green Party of Ohio. The Southwest Ohio Green Party was begun to support this campaign and the statewide efforts. Meetings were held every month and a list serve and web page were started – www.swohgp.org.
Local Activity in the 2000’s
Activity fell off after the 2000 presidential campaign, but new members joined the SWOHGP anyway. In 2001, Wes Flinn became the first endorsed Green Party candidate to run for Cincinnati City Council. We had three 2003 Cincinnati City Council candidates, some co-endorsed, (Marilyn Hyland, Brian Garry and John Schlagetter) In 2005, the SWOHGP’s only listed support for candidates in 2005 came from looking at which ones supported using IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) to bypass the newly created Cincinnati Mayoral primary. In 2007, Justin Jeffre ran for Cincinnati City Council, and by getting at least 10% of the Cincinnati voters to support him, made the Green Party an officially recognized political party according to Cincinnati’s Campaign finance rules. The 2009 Green Party candidate for Cincinnati City Council, Anitra Brockman, maintained the Cincinnati recognition by also meeting the 10% threshold level. Jason Haap ran as the first Green Party candidate for Cincinnati School Board in 2009 as well. Christopher Smitherman was endorsed by the Hamilton County Green Party in 2013 and 2017 and he won both races while NOT being endorsed by any other party making him the first elected Cincinnati City Council member where the only party endorsement came from the Green Party.
State level Activity in the 2000’s
Although Ralph Nader had been the Green Party’s presidential candidate in the previous two elections, he ran as an independent presidential candidate in later elections so his race has became a source of on going conflict within the Green Party. The activists in Ohio Green Party who led the way to getting Mr. Nader on the ballot in 2000 supported the Green Party US’s presidential candidate, David Cobb in 2004 and Cincinnati became the center of this Ohio activity. The Ohio Green Party effort came up about 50 valid signatures short of the needed 5,000 valid signatures, but may have succeeded if there hadn’t been such an overwhelming number of new voters and address changes that year. In addition, many of the activists who worked on the 2004 Nader campaign also considered themselves to be Green Party members. In a typical case of united we stand – divided we fail, both the Green Party’s candidate and Ralph Nader’s supporters failed to collect enough valid signatures to get either of their candidates on the Ohio ballot but the combined total of individual valid signers would have been more than enough to get one of these two candidates on the ballot. David Cobb, unlike Mr. Nader, was able to became an official write in candidate on the 2004 Ohio ballot due to early efforts from the Southwest Ohio Green Party. David Cobb’s write-in candidacy in Ohio is what made it possible for the Green Party challenges in the 2004 election leading up to the Green Party being on the Ohio ballot today. In contrast to the divided efforts of Green Party members, the Democrat Party united itself around a candidate that none of them seemed to really like and their failed campaign became a source of growth for the Green Party in 2005.
Once again in 2008 Green Party members were divided in their signature collection efforts between Ralph Nader and the Green Party candidate, Cynthia McKinney, but this time the results were different. Mr. Nader’s supporters collected enough valid signatures to get their candidate on the ballot but the Green Party’s approach gave long term results. The Green Party’s official presidential candidate got on the ballot in Ohio due to the litigation efforts of the Green Party of Ohio and others. Cynthia McKinney was the first Green Party presidential candidate to be on the Ohio ballot with the Green Party ballot label with her name. The 2008 effort in Ohio is what paved the way for the Ohio Secretary of State to allow minor parties to be created in 2010 with their own organization plans and primary ballots.
Historic May 4, 2010 Primary Election Opportunity – Led to the creation of the Hamilton County Green Party
May 4, 2010 was the first time voters in Ohio could choose a Green Party primary ballot. Voters who picked up the Green Party Primary ballot were the only people who are now officially counted as Ohio Green Party members until the next Primary ballot opportunity two years later. Party status is important for determining who can circulate and sign petitions for persons running for partisan office. Voters who choose a Green Party or an issues only primary ballot in the spring primary election will be allowed to help Green Party candidates get on ballots, but persons who pick up the Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or any other ballots in the Primary are not allowed to sign or circulate petitions for the Green Party candidates. How one votes in the primary does not mandate which party’;s candidate one supports in the general election. The primary election does choose which candidates run from each party for the general election that year, but most party’s candidates are running unopposed in the party primary, making the primary election more a political identity statement than an actual election. Each party does elect its state and local committee members on its primary ballots and all primary ballots contain the non partisan bond issues, tax levies and other issues.
Additionally, it can be assumed that the number of people who pick up the minor party primary ballots has some influence regarding the campaigns of the major party candidates who will try to win the votes of minor party candidates in the general election. The number of people and the type of minor party primary ballot that individuals choose could help determine if the major party’s candidates for Governor or Senator moves to the left or right or seeks the center in their election campaigns. The spring primary elections in Ohio allow voters to say that they don’t see enough difference between the major parties as well as to state what direction they would prefer to see this country go.
Name Change for SWOHGP
Before 2010, the Green Party of Ohio was organized by regions, which is where the “Southwest Ohio Green Party” got its name. Under Ohio’s Political Party rules, parties must be organized by State of Ohio recognized districts and/or counties. The Ohio Green Party has chosen to use the Ohio School Board 11 districts organization to organize its Central Committee. Hamilton, Warren and a small amount of Butler County are in District 4 of the Ohio School Board Districts but each county also elects its own County Central Committee. The State Central Committee has the power to fill the open seats on both the state and county committees. The initials SWOHGP were changed on May 4, 2010 from meaning Southwest Ohio Green PARTY to meaning Southwest Ohio Green PAC and the decision was made to keep the same web page address, www.swohgp.org, as before. The SWOHG Political Action Committee became its own separate entity as a PAC with no direct influence between itself and the Hamilton County and other Green Party Committees. The SWOHG PAC has chosen to maintain a web page that gives information on itself, the Hamilton County Green Party and the Ohio Green Party as well as other web pages.
The Ohio Green Party was a recognized Ohio political party from 2010 to 2018
When the Ohio Green Party was a recognized party, it participated in the official Ohio Partisan Primaries (2012, 2014, 2016 & 2018) and this is how our Central Committees gained most of its members. These Ohio primaries were the main way the Ohio Green Party determined who was/is a member of the Ohio Green Party because a person becomes a member of a specific political party when they pull a ballot in a partisan primary election. A person who votes the “issues only” ballot in the primary election is not assigned a party label from that election.
After the 2010 election, the Ohio Green Party updated its Constitution and By-Laws to comply with Ohio Law regarding political parties. We did run governor candidates during the years when we could (2014, 2018) as well as presidential candidates (2012, 2016) using our ballot lines along with running state and/or federal candidates. In the years before and since, the Green Party’s statewide candidates ran as independents. Green Party candidates also ran and continue to run in the non-partisan local races like for city council, mayor, county commission or township trustees where a ballot line is not shown on the ballot.
The Hamilton County Green Party has maintained official qualification as a political party in the City of Cincinnati since the 2007 ballot measure was passed. Also, one of the endorsed Green Party candidates, who did not carry the label of another political party, Christopher Smitherman won his elections in 2013 and 2017.
The Ohio Green Party & the Hamilton County Green Party after 2020
The Ohio Green Party can collect signatures to regain its ballot line but then most get at least 3% of the vote in the governor’s race after the party requalifies. This seems like an intentional effort on the party of the major parties to keep minor parties spending all of their time on ‘paper work’ leaving no time to work on issues or policies. The Green Party and others can run candidates without gaining a ballot line by collecting the signatures required to run for that office. In the partisan races, the official party candidates can get on the ballot with fewer signatures than the independent candidates. In non-partisan races all candidates need the same number of valid signatures, for example persons running for Cincinnati City Council need 500 valid signatures (registered voter, using the address and form of their signature provided to the Board of Elections) of Cincinnati residents.
The Hamilton County Green Party is very interested in endorsing and promoting candidates who agree with our principles, are not seeking the endorsement of another party and are willing to put in the effort to run a reasonable campaign. So far in 2021 K.A. Heard, Jr. and Logan Simmering have been endorsed by the Hamilton County Green Party in their run for Cincinnati City Council.
This link will take you directly to the Main Menu for the SWOHGP web page Navigator