A recent story in the Courier-Journal implies that independent Jackie Green is, to some degree, the Ralph Nader of the Louisville mayor’s race.

Green is running on a strong environmental platform some have called radical, but he calls necessary. The bulk of the CJ story compares Green’s positions to those of Democrat Greg Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner. But before covering policy, the story looks at the politics of Green’s candidacy. Specifically, it points out how environmental groups have endorsed Fischer, because they don’t think Green can win.

The local Sierra Club’s chairwoman, Joan Lindop, said Green “is raising issues that need to be raised,” but the group’s members don’t believe he can win.

They’re backing Fischer because they like parts of his platform and they believe he has good managerial skills, Lindop said. She said they are also concerned that Heiner would, as mayor, tilt too much toward business.

“It is enthusiastic but I guess not passionate,” she said of the endorsement, adding that Green is “raising issues that need to be raised.”

That last quote is interesting. And Interfaith Power and Light director Tim Darst refutes it in the article, saying “If you vote for the lesser of two evils, you will just get an evil.” This type of endorsement isn’t anything new in politics…but it is politics. The Sierra Club is backing a candidate in part to block another candidate. That’s one way of approaching a set of goals.

Next, the article says Green could be a spoiler in the race. He could take enough votes from one candidate to give the other a victory. Presumably, Green would take liberal or progressive votes from Fischer.

For his part, Fischer said his campaign has “a very strong environmental message and a strong jobs message.

“We certainly would like Jackie’s supporters to keep that in mind.”

Green and Heiner both reject this.

With registered Democrats outnumbering Republicans in Louisville, “This was (Fischer’s campaign) to dance through,” Green said. “If he loses… it won’t be because of me.”

U of L professor Dewey Clayton (whom we’ve quoted extensively on WFPL) says it is possible that Green could tip the race either way. And that is true. Green is polling at 3%. Fischer is leading Heiner by about 6%, but the margin of error puts the race even closer, statistically. So Green could be taking enough votes to make the race closer. But the question here is: would Green’s supporters vote for another candidate? How likely is it that someone who supports Green’s bold environmental positions would vote for Fischer or Heiner as a compromise?

Most of Green’s supporters are likely enthusiastic for Green. They may be more like IPL’s Tim Darst and are unlikely to compromise. Green isn’t invited to every debate. He isn’t mentioned in every article about the mayor’s race. He doesn’t have the money to run television ads. His campaign strategy is to connect with voters personally. While it’s possible Green has wooed a few people who would otherwise vote for Fischer or Heiner, I’m not sure those voters make up most of his 3%.

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