Green Party gubernatorial candidate Pat LaMarche spoke at Bowdoin on Wednesday night, as the Bowdoin College Democrats (BCD) warned that she might draw potential voters away from Gov. John Baldacci, who is campaigning for re-election.
In an open letter to "those who are bringing Pat LaMarche to campus," co-presidents Tom Rodrigues '06 and Charlie Ticotsky '07 warned that "the latest polls indicate that the election will be a close one," and that "LaMarche has no chance of winning but could tip the election to Republican Chandler Woodcock."
LaMarche was brought to Bowdoin by Bowdoin Students for Peace (BSP), the Bowdoin Democratic Left, and the Bowdoin Women's Association.
At the end of the letter, Rodrigues and Ticotsky cite the 2000 Gore-Bush-Nader presidential contest as an example of how third-party candidates can impact elections, and said that they "hope to collaborate on our common goals for the fall."
In an interview with the Orient, LaMarche said that she held no more common goals with Baldacci than with Woodcock.
"I know one thing. The things that I believe in I'll fight for no matter what," LaMarche said. "There are certainly things I agree with Woodcock on better than I agree with Baldacci...he's much more environmentally concerned than Baldacci is...What we know from the polling we've done is that the people of Maine agree with me more than they agree with anybody else."
"We're not getting the kind of things this country needs because we're pandering to people who threaten to be a little bit worse or a little bit better," she said.
LaMarche, who also ran for vice president on David Cobb's ticket in 2004, is focusing on lowering taxes and creating new jobs through her universal health care plan, and also said that she wanted to use Maine's water extraction fee to help students pay for college.
Sam Minot '08, co-chair of the Bowdoin Democratic Left, said that he would support LaMarche as long as doing so wouldn't allow Woodcock to win.
"If, in campaigning for a third-party candidate, I felt that...that would be putting us at risk for handing the election to the Republican candidate...then I would be reticent to do so," Minot said. "I think personally and our group thinks that it's important that Woodcock is not elected."
However, Minot stressed that not every Democratic candidate is better than every Republican candidate, and that part of being a progressive is evaluating each candidate individually.
Merry Segal '08, co-chair of Bowdoin Students for Peace, said that although her group helped bring LaMarche to Bowdoin, they are not endorsing her for governor.
"Our group is definitely not endorsing her...she approached us and we asked her to come partly because of common ground on Iraq."
Segal said that BSP would continue to work with the College Democrats.
"We certainly do believe that there are common goals and we work with them [BCD] on many campaigns. We definitely...support the work that they're doing," she said.
DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government Christian P. Potholm, who also works as a consultant for the Baldacci campaign, said that LaMarche "has an uphill battle."
"For any independent to succeed, both the Republicans and the Democrats have to nominate candidates who are for one reason or another not really appealing to their own party...In this case, I think the party apparatus is very strong for Woodcock, and the Democratic Party apparatus is very strong for a sitting governor and all the patronage he has," he said.
"However, for a Green...were she to get 20% of the vote, that would be a spectacular success and that would really boost the whole Green Party," he added.
According to Minot, a number of progressive groups on campus will be meeting with the BCD this weekend to coordinate actions around a referendum, the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights.
"That is definitely one of the common goals we share among many," Minot said.
"I think it's very important for everyone on the left to work together...towards common goals, and we always room have room for improvement in that regard," he said.