Roseanne Barr, her political rival and about 450 members of the Green Party will converge in Baltimore this week, as the party meets to choose its candidate for the November presidential election.
However, choosing between Barr and the frontrunner, Dr. Jill Stein, is not the only job the Greens have ahead of them in Maryland. Due to a decision of the state’s highest court in May, the party needs to collect another 4,139 valid signatures by Aug. 6 just to get its federal, state and local candidates on the ballot.
“We are definitely going to ask everyone who attends to go out and collect signatures,” said Brian Bittner, who chairs the Baltimore City Green Party.
The party has collected about 3,000 signatures since the Court of Appeals’ decision, but it wants at least 5,000 signatures to be safe, Bittner said.
Scott McLarty, a spokesman for the national party, called the convention’s presence in Baltimore a helpful coincidence for the Maryland petition drive.
“I don’t like to make predictions, but I think that the convention will help us,” he said. “Maryland is very important to the Green Party and we want to have a presence there.”
The selection of Baltimore, a “media hub” with proximity to Washington, was no accident in the underdog party’s effort to gain publicity, McLarty said.
“We aren’t doing this to avoid any media attention,” he added.
The main event of the four-day convention will occur Saturday at the Holiday Inn-Inner Harbor, where the delegates will formally nominate the party’s presidential candidate. The nominee will then deliver an acceptance speech.
Stein, a Massachusetts physician, is the party’s presumptive pick. In a majority-wins primary, Stein had garnered 205 delegates as of July 3, compared to 84 for Barr, her closest competitor.
Stein’s campaign manager, Ben Manski, called Maryland important for his candidate’s success, citing the state’s strong environmental policies. He also voiced confidence that the petition drive in Maryland will be successful.
“We fully expect to be on the ballot in Maryland,” Manski said.
Stein is running on the slogan “A Green New Deal for America,” which seeks to improve the U.S. economy in large part through the expansion of jobs that help the environment.
Barr, the Emmy award-winning star of the television sitcom Roseanne from 1988 to 1997, is described on her campaign website, www.roseanneforpresident2012, as “the lone voice of courage and reason who is unstoppable as she holds corporate-funded politicians’ feet to the fire.”
Barr’s campaign office did not return telephone messages seeking comment.
The nominating convention will follow the party’s Annual National Meeting, which starts Thursday with workshops and caucus meetings at the University of Baltimore School of Law.
The law school’s involvement with the Green Party and its convention is limited to the renting of space, said Peter Toran, the University of Baltimore’s vice president of planning and external affairs.
The Green Party is paying a total of $5,700 to the University of Baltimore to rent facilities, said UB spokesman Chris Hart. That includes $1,200 for audio-visual equipment and support staff and $4,500 for the use of the law school’s moot-court room, lobby and second floor, as well as space in the business school, Hart said.
The workshop sessions include recruiting candidates, raising funds and using the media and social networks in campaigns. Gathering enough signatures to get to 10,000 does not appear on the official schedule, but it is very much on the agenda
The Court of Appeals’ May 21 opinion upheld the State Board of Elections’ decision to invalidate 8,981 of the 14,842 signatures the Green Party had submitted.
The court said state law authorized the elections board to invalidate signatures that were missing the signer’s first name or contained a nickname, and to reject back-up signatures by people who had signed a second time, regardless of validity, if their first signatures were invalid.
The decision was also a blow to the Libertarian Party, which was left with just 5,025 valid signatures. The Maryland Libertarian Party is “on track” to reach 10,000 but stands about 2,000 short, spokesman Lorenzo Gaztanaga said Tuesday. The party seeks to have another 4,000 signatures by Aug. 6 to be on the safe side, he added.
Both the Green and Libertarian organizations lost political party status — and with it, the ability to put candidates on the ballot — after the 2010 election, when they were unable to show 1 percent registration among Maryland voters and their respective candidates for governor failed to receive at least 1 percent of the vote.
Daily Record reporter Matt Owings contributed to this story.