Small Party, Bigger Peace of Action

by Kathleen Lucadamo
NY Daily News

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The Big Apple is getting greener - and it has nothing to do with grass or cash.

The number of state voters registered with the Green Party more than doubled in the past five years, though the war-hating, tree-loving group still lags far behind most political parties in popularity, according to Board of Elections data.

Green leaders attribute anger over the war in Iraq for their party's ballooning membership -- there are currently 36,141 registered Green voters compared with 17,992 in 2001.

"The Republicans have been initiating war and the Democrats are their biggest supporters and there are people looking for someone to speak to nonviolent solutions," said Ian Wilder, co-chairman of the state's Green Party.

Despite more Greens -- Democrats also experienced voter gains, though less dramatic -- the party has no clout in helping candidates win. It doesn't endorse candidates who aren't Green, and those who are Green rarely win.

"They are not in the election to win, they are in the election to make a point," said Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor at the State University of New York at New Paltz.

By comparison, there are 5.4 million Democrats and 3.1 million Republicans in the state.