Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dems Take Back West End By Linking Eder to Republicans
Eder’s historic run as the nation’s highest-ranking Green Party elected official is ended by fewer than 100 votes.


A long and bitter campaign ended on Election Day with the defeat of the nation’s highest-ranking Green Party elected official.

West End environmental attorney Jon Hinck defeated incumbent Green Party State Representative John Eder on November 7th by fewer than 100 votes, returning the local legislative seat to Democratic control. Hinck got 1631 votes (51.53%) to Eder’s 1534 (48.47%).

Eder made history in 2002 by winning the seat and becoming the highest-ranking elected Green Party official in the country. Portland Democratic Committee Sive Neilan called Hinck “a greener than Green new legislator.”

Nasty, Ugly and Outrageous

After the election, Eder charged that Hinck, made illegal and untrue mailings and calls in the days before the election. He described Hinck’s campaign against him as “nasty” and “ugly”. He said that the charges that Hinck made during the campaign about Eder’s attendance and voting records were “outrageous”. Hinck defended his campaign, saying that all the charges he made were “completely truthful” and he didn’t understand why Eder waited until the week before the election to defend himself and that voters were entitled to know about Republican contributions to Eder’s campaign made in the days before the election.

The charges were the latest in a campaign that was filled with accusations by both sides of illegal and unethical activity.

One West End resident who is a registered Green, but a Hinck supporter, sent out a pre-recorded phone message the day before the election urging voters to vote for Hinck, and connecting Eder to the Bush-Cheney administration.

“What I share with the Bush-Cheney administration is our progressive pro-renter agenda,” quipped Eder upon hearing the accusation. The Hinck supporter, who is a landlord, said that he opposed Eder because of Eder’s strong position on tenants’ rights. Hinck helped write the script for call. The Maine Democratic Party simultaneously produced a flyer charging that state Republicans were hoping to take over Maine by getting Eder elected.

“Republicans in Maine are counting on YOU to vote Green,” said the flyer, which was placed on car windshields and on Eder signs throughout the district on November 6th.

That charge was in reference to a $1500 contribution to the campaigns of Eder and District 120 Legislative candidate Ben Meiklejohn, also a Green Party member, by the Leadership for Maine's Future, a political action committee led by Republican State Legislator Joshua Tardy, who is the assistant Republican leader in the House and was in line to become Speaker if the Republicans had taken control.. Eder said that his campaign was unaware of that contribution, which came in the form of a pro-Eder mailing. Eder’s legislative aide Ben Chipman, said that he called Tardy immediately when he found out about the mailing but was unable to get it cancelled. He said that he told Tardy that the Greens did not want or need Republican support, and that Green Party votes were not for sale. He said that the Greens would have supported the Democratic candidate for House Speaker if Eder had been re-elected.

The strategy of linking Eder to the Republican Party became apparent in the very first public meeting between the two candidates during a candidate forum sponsored by The League at Reiche School on May 9th.

Although they agreed on almost every issue raised, Eder and Hinck exchanged angry charges and denials regarding the viability of having a third party to promote progressive ideas in the State Legislature.

Eder took great exception when Hinck accused him of not doing anything when Democrats nearly lost an important committee chair to a conservative Republican in the last session. Eder denied the charge, saying that he had nothing to do with the committee in question and said that the Democratic leadership considered him to be part of the working majority. He said that he voted his conscience and that he was a Green - not a Democrat who had become an independent.

After Eder said that there should be more political parties and that the two-party system has failed, Hinck described how radically different Portland politics are from the rest of the state, and how Republicans vote against every progressive measure. He then said that he didn’t think that third parties were the answer – that they tear down the better parts of the other two parties.

Aside from that major difference, the two candidates agreed on issues ranging from citizen referendums to toxic waste disposal to single-payer healthcare to immigrant voting rights. At the end of the 40-minute session, the two candidates hugged each other and started distributing their first wave of campaign literature. That was their last hug, but just the first trickle of a wave of campaign literature produced by the two campaigns.

In October, Eder was fined $100 for failing to disclose that he sponsored an automated call by the National Organization for Women that questioned Hinck’s position regarding a woman’s right to choose. Eder supporters accused Hinck of hedging on full support for women’s reproductive rights, and Hinck said that describing him as anything other than pro-choice was untrue.

Hinck also complained to the Ethics Commission that Eder was sending a “campaign message” by using his logo, designed by West End artist Patrick Corrigan, .in his ongoing constituent service advertising. In an interview in the Portland Forecaster, Hinck charged that Eder “sends legislative communications-his campaign message-on taxpayer money.”

The State Ethics Commission, however, agreed with Eder – that his logo was a valid representation of his constituent work - and could also be used as a campaign tool. The logo shows a human silhouette with a light bulb going off, along with Eder’s name emblazoned across the top.

Eder’s defeat ends a continuous four-year battle with Maine Democrats that he waged since he won the West End legislative office, ending years of Democratic Party dominance. In a 2003 redistricting, he was forced to move back into the district in which he was elected, after his residence wound up as part of the adjoining District 120. In 2004, his legislative aide, Chipman, was charged with, and later cleared of voter tampering, after the charges were brought up just prior to Eder’s 2004 re-election. Eder was also the author of an anti-Iraq War resolution in 2003 that was later hijacked by local Democratic State Senator Ethan King Strimling.


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