Ohio’s US Senate race has five candidates on the ballot – the two big names are incumbent Republican Rob Portman and Democratic former Gov. Ted Strickland. But there are three other candidates - nonparty candidates Tom Connors and Scott Rupert, who has run before, and the Green Party candidate, Joe DeMare of Bowling Green.
Joe DeMare hasn’t shown up in recent polling, and didn’t appear alongside either Portman or Strickland in their three debates. But he was in the middle of the two when they sat down with the editorial board of the Plain Dealer and Cleveland.com. In his opening statement, DeMare said he was running because dependence on fossil fuels needs to end to save the planet: “The Greens can do what’s necessary. This is a job which must be done. And that’s why I’m running – to make sure it does get done.”
But DeMare doesn’t just talk about being green – he talks about the blue collar work that he’s doing while part of one of the most expensive US Senate races in the country this year. “I’m a machinist, not a professional politician,” DeMare said. “It’s time we sent someone directly from the shop floor to the Senate floor.”
DeMare said he’s one of more than 250 Greens running for office across the country, and that all Greens adhere to 10 key principles such as feminism and locally based economies and four pillars – ecological wisdom, grassroots democracy, social justice and non-violence. Under that philosophy, DeMare said Greens are pushing for a $15 minimum wage, forgiveness of student loan debt and the mandate of civilian review boards in police departments around the country. DeMare said Greens reject trade deals and oppose Obamacare, because they want a single payer health care system. And he admits that makes trying to lure in people who align with the major parties difficult. “I don’t expect too many to come from the Republicans or Democrats. I’m aiming my positions and my appeal for voters to everybody else, because most people these days no longer identify themselves as Republicans or Democrats,” said DeMare. “Most people don’t feel they have a candidate that represents their views and their interests.”
If he is elected, DeMare says he plans to use the power one Senator can have in terms of stopping legislation to prevent new gas or oil pipelines to be built or to stop Supreme Court nominations that he feels represent corporations and not people – saying “gridlock is not necessarily a bad thing….our system is kind of designed to seize up if someone tries to do something horrible.” But he admits that he did call out Rob Portman for standing with Republicans in opposing President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, refusing to hold hearings on any nominee till after the election. “The difference is that I would support the hearings. If a Supreme Court nominee disagreed with that I came up with, I would absolutely say let’s start the process, let’s have the hearings.” DeMare says he’d be upfront in his opposition, while he feels Republicans are hiding behind each other and the process.
Greens reject donations from corporations or corporate PACs, and it shows - DeMare has raised only a little over $9,000, compared to the $25 million raised by Portman and the more than $10 million Strickland has brought in. But DeMare says his campaign is serious – and he thinks it can start a movement if frustrated voters buy in. “The main way to create an alternative party is to vote for that party,” DeMare said. “So if people really want to get out of the two party trap, all they really have to do come November 8 is vote Green Party.”
DeMare said he does expect to do better than the best performing Green Party candidate in Ohio history, Anita Rios, who got just over three percent of the vote when she ran for governor in 2014, getting a little over 101,000 votes. That’s a lot better than the party’s current presidential candidate Jill Stein got when she ran in 2012, and received a little over 18,000 votes – or one third of one percent.
Joe DeMare is a guest on "The State of Ohio" this weekend on PBS stations statewide and at the link above.