The Daily Pulse:

Bits of Green in the Red

The cheering of Obama's Tennessee supporters last night may be tempered today with the fact that they live in a state and county are even redder than they were in 2008. In Tennessee, Romney's majority is just shy of 60 percent, with Obama at 39. Traditionally Republican Knox County favored Romney 63.6 to 34.43. Not quite two to one, but it might as well be. Four years ago, Obama got about 38 percent in Knox.

Those progressive sorts disappointed at the prospect of life in their suddenly homogeneous home state can take heart in one bit of interesting news just behind the headlines. The Green Party, in the first election it was officially listed as a party on the Tennessee ballot, made its best showing in history. If not decisive, anything more than a single percentage is respectable by third-party standards.

Local Green chairman Norris Dryer, who carried his party's banner as a candidate for Congress, acknowledges that 2012 is their best year yet, in terms of getting out the vote. And that's a little surprising, because they hardly spent any money on it.

"We would have launched a more substantial campaign," Dryer says, "but we didn't know for certain until August 30 that we were going to be on the ballot." A court judgment, in agreement with the Green complaint against the Tennessee Election Commission, ordered that they be included. Dryer says he and fellow Knoxvillian U.S. Senate contender Martin Pleasant ran shoestring campaigns. In contrast to the billions infamously spent nationally, it sounds like the Tennessee Greens campaign chests were mostly in the four digits. If they didn't win, true to their Green principles, they didn't waste as much money per vote as the winners.

The Greens' numbers were especially impressive in races in which left-leaning voters were looking for an alternative to the major-party candidates. Dryer ran for the second-district U.S. Congress seat, Jimmy Duncan's longtime domain, to challenge the "Duncan aristocracy." Dryer, who says he tried to get both Duncan and Democratic nominee Troy Goodale to participate in a public debate of the issues, got no interest from either candidate.

"Duncan won't debate--he doesn't have to," Dryer says. But he was disappointed that Goodale didn't respond to his proposal, either. "That was disappointing to me," he says.

Dryer's skeletal campaign earned 5,733 votes across the Second District, about three quarters of them concentrated in Knox County.

Numbers were more dramatic in the U.S. Senate race, which pitted incumbent Senator Bob Corker, a conservative Republican, against Mark Clayton, the dark-horse severe right-winger whose accession to the Democratic nomination in August remains something of a mystery and an embarrassment to the Democratic Party, which disowned him. Though there were seven third-party candidates in all, thousands of Tennesseans who oppose many of Corker's conservative stands were looking for a None of the Above candidate, and found it in Knox County environmental engineer Martin Pleasant.

According to unofficial results from the Knox County Election Commission, Pleasant garnered a reported 5,839 votes in Knox County alone, or 3.55 percent of the total. The Green vote from Knox County alone accounted for about one seventh of his statewide total of 38,370--far more than any Green candidate statewide, and enough to bring him in third in a field of nine listed candidates. But statewide, the percentage was less impressive, 1.66 percent.

Unfortunately for the Greens, that's significant; Norris says 2.5 percent would have assured the Greens' inclusion in future ballots. As it is, that's yet to be determined. Dryer, the symphony violinist who's undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, says the fight's still underway.

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