Jill Stein, the likely Green Party presidential nominee in 2016, thinks voters are unusually ready to consider alternative choices at the ballot box this fall.
“There’s such a critical mass right now,” Stein told The Star on Friday. “The younger generation, who’ve really been slammed on debt, have also been slammed on jobs and health care and the future of the climate. So there’s really a kind of unified vision now.”
Stein was in the Kansas City area for a two-day campaign swing through Missouri and Kansas. She plans to meet with supporters, journalists and activists in Kansas City, Topeka and Lawrence through Saturday.
The physician was the Green Party nominee in 2012. She received less than 1 percent of the popular vote.
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But she insisted Friday that the unpopularity of major party candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump combined with her party’s progressive stances — non-intervention overseas, tougher rules on climate change, public health care and student debt forgiveness — have propelled her candidacy into the ranks of the possible.
“People, planet and peace over profit,” she said. “Instead of … the few dominating the many, we want to flip the vote.”
Stein hopes to attract supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who may remain disappointed at Clinton’s almost certain Democratic nomination. At times, Stein and Sanders sound alike.
“We’re not going to fix what seriously ails us unless we fix our very sick and corrupted political system,” she said.
Polls show that Stein badly trails the two major party candidates, however.
On Friday, in the Real Clear Politics average of all polls, she had 4.4 percent of the vote — behind Clinton and Trump. She also trailed Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson, who had 7.8 percent support.
She also trails in fundraising, with $195,762 cash on hand at the end of May.
The Green Party’s high-water mark in presidential politics came in 2000, when nominee Ralph Nader received nearly 3 percent of the popular vote. At the time, many Democrats blamed Nader for taking votes away from Al Gore in Florida, throwing the election to George W. Bush.
Stein’s critics say she risks a similar dynamic this year, potentially putting Trump in the White House. She rejects the possibility.
“If we silence ourselves, in order to make room for the lesser evil, what you then get is a moral vacuum,” she said.
Stein won’t become the party’s official nominee until its convention in August. Until then, much of the campaign’s budget is spent on gathering signatures to gain access to the fall ballot or suing states to get on the ballot.
The campaign must gather 5,000 valid signatures in Kansas to be on the fall ballot. In Missouri, she needs 10,000 valid signatures.