Want a Complete Moratorium on Fracking? Then Write in Paul Glover for Governor on May 20th
People who have followed my blog know that I wrote in support of John Hanger as the Democratic Party candidate to run against Tom Corbett for Governor. I caught some heat for that, but also had expressions of support, but that is over with and the question is what to do now. After the blitz of Tom Wolf’s TV advertising (and his concurrent meteoric rise in the polls) it became obvious to Hanger that he had no chance, so he backed away from running.
So it may surprise some to read here that I think it now makes sense for the anti-fracking voters of Pennsylvania to write in Green Party candidate Paul Glover’s name on the May 20th primary ballot. It is completely legal and his name is easy to spell. But of course that is not why I am recommending this action for serious discussion amongst us.
“What!?” I hear some saying. “How can Cleghorn go from Hanger to Glover?”
The common thread for me is this: fracking has to be stopped. It cannot be made safe.
I wrote previously that I was pushing Hanger to take that position, which he did not, but then again no other Democratic Party candidate has called for a complete moratorium either. I supported Hanger because he had the toughest, most specific plan to slow down – at least slow down – the gas industry, plus I liked his other progressive positions. No other candidate has yet matched the specifics that Hanger put out there about regulating the drilling. No other one (correct me if I am wrong) has offered as Hanger did to establish an office inside the Governor’s office to handle citizen complaints about fracking. No other candidate has been as specific about his or her renewable energy goals for Pennsylvania.
Paul Glover has been quite specific about what he believes and what he will attempt to do were he to be Governor. http://www.paulglover.org/governor.issues.html – even though I would like to see more numbers put to his renewable energy goals, too. I do like his positions, very much so, and I relate to his worldview that small and community-based solutions are best. But is that enough to say we anti-fracking folks should write him in on May 20th?
Here is why I think that makes sense. Our anti-fracking, pro-clean-and-sustainable-energy, halt-and-reverse-climate-change movement must assert itself in this election. It is time. We need to show the political muscle to make a difference as to who best represents us in Pennsylvania’s highest office for achieving our goals.
If we do, then how do we show it at the primary in anticipation of pressuring whichever Democratic Party candidate emerges as the nominee to pay attention to our position?
To me it seems a write-in of Paul Glover at the primary is a way of making tangible the voting power we have. We use that power to go after the Democratic Party nominee in the general election, letting that candidate know that our votes are contingent on that candidate declaring, at a minimum, a halt on all new permits for fracking. What do we have to lose?
The best argument for not doing the write-in is that we do not have the political strength to defeat fracking and we would do better not to advertise that fact.
Another argument is that Paul Glover wants our votes in the primary and the general election and might be offended to be used as a means to an end of moving a Democratic Party candidate toward our objectives. But Glover and I corresponded about that and he is fine with being “used” in that way. His goal is to move the political agenda toward a green economy and he knows that is a long battle with skirmishes along the way.
Of course the usual argument against a third party is that we would be wasting our vote. We should be focused on selecting the best candidate to defeat Tom Corbett, and one who comes as close as possible to our anti-fracking, pro-renewables position as we can get.
Here is my thinking on that. First, any one of the Democratic Party candidates should be able to defeat Tom Corbett, if all the polls I read about his negatives are correct. It is the Democratic Party’s election to lose at this point. Secondly, I expect that anti-fracking voters are likely to spread their votes over all the Democratic Party primary candidates, and thus the primary will tell us little about our voting strength as a movement if we cannot actually coalesce behind a particular candidate and deliver money, time and votes to that candidate. We have not shown an inclination to coalesce as a movement behind any one candidate. So what do we do when we go into the voting booth to let Democratic Party candidates know we are here as a movement?
I have not been convinced by any of the remaining candidates that one of them is to be preferred over the others in terms of our issue of shutting down fracking and going full-bore on implementing renewable energy. They all look upon fracking as a cash cow for state revenue. Kathleen McGinty is altogether too cozy with the industry, although her credentials on renewable energy development are pretty solid. There is no daylight between Allyson Schwartz and President Obama in their zeal for natural gas production, and she seems to be focused on other priorities besides energy and the environment, which is not helpful in the era of global climate change. Tom Wolf says pretty clearly that he believes that “the Marcellus Shale must be a key component of any plan for Pennsylvania’s future,” and it really bothers me that the man with the most money is leading in the polls. Rob McCord is not as gung-ho in his support of natural gas development, but he does support it, albeit while wanting to place a 10% severance tax on it. There is a rumor that he is on our side for a moratorium, but that same hearsay tells us that he cannot come out for a moratorium because the gas industry would target and crush him, which is probably true enough.
If I were forced to choose at the primary between these four, I would go for McCord because he seems to know Harrisburg and I think he would be the most likely to get the respect of the gas industry and least likely to be bullied or co-opted by them. But I do not feel compelled to make that decision now because I want McCord and all the rest to know that our anti-fracking movement has some voting power that we can show by writing in Glover on May 20.
Does Paul Glover have a chance to win a race against Corbett for Governor? No, to put it plainly. Would I cast a vote for Glover in the general election? No. But after all, if we want to lodge a protest vote against the Democratic Party’s candidates who all support fracking, what better time to do that than in the upcoming primary?
Can we even coalesce as a movement behind that? Or would we rather not show (because we fear what it would show) how many votes we have in favor of a complete moratorium and eventual ban on fracking?
I hope at least that we have a conversation about this. If we just keep doing what we are doing now, I guess I will accept that. There is great value to work that people are doing to pressure all candidates (bird-dogging, etc.) and to knock back onerous gas industry legislation in Harrisburg and Washington. We are having some success at those efforts. But since the day I first spoke up for Hanger my overriding concern has been for our movement to be vocal and transparent about building a political arm to get what we want.
Are we there yet? Is a primary election a vehicle for showing our hand?
Comments and discussion are welcome.