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11052012

While both major party presidential candidates have canvassed the state in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, the lesser-known Green Party and its candidate, Jill Stein, have been operating directly out of their Madison headquarters on State Street.

The campaign’s Madison connection is no surprise, as Madison native and local progressive Ben Manski currently works as Stein’s campaign manager.  Manski made an unsuccessful but closely contested run for the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2010 against current State Rep. Brett Hulsey.

“Dr. Stein approached me to run her campaign because she has seen what we have been doing in Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s leadership potential,” Manski said.

Manksi also said the city was an attractive option because of Wisconsin’s progressive political history as the birthplace of “Abraham Lincoln’s Republican Party.”

The campaign has attracted young people with progressive ideologies to staff and volunteer at their State Street office by focusing on, among other things, decreasing student loan debt and combatting climate change.  Many of the volunteers and staff are University of Wisconsin-Madison students or UW system graduates between the ages of 18 to 24.

“I’m very proud of the role Wisconsin students have played in inspiring and organizing this campaign,” Manski said.

Although the Green Party always runs to win, according to Manski, its main reasons for entering the election are to spread its ideology, forcing Democrats and Republicans to consider issues such as climate change they otherwise might ignore, and to make it easier for state and local Green Party candidates to get elected.

However, Manski said the Green Party can only achieve its goals if Green Party supporters get to the ballot boxes.

“We are hoping for a strong enough showing that the political establishment is forced to respond not only in the coming weeks but in the coming months and years,” Manski said.

Stein is currently on 85 percent of the ballots nationwide and, according to Manski, hopes to get at least one percent of the national vote.

“If we are able to break one percent nationally, that would really say a lot,” Manski said.  “We could do much better than that, but I’d be happy with progress.”

However, UW-Madison political science professor David Canon said the Green Party will most likely get “a couple tenths of one percent,” falling short of its one percent goal.

No matter the result of the election, Manski remains confident the Green Party will eventually become a national player.

“One of these days, if not in this election cycle, we will turn the White House Green,” Manski said.

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