Presidential candidate Ralph Nader is not the only “Ralph” running his fourth campaign this election year.
Green Party candidate Ralph Ferrucci is running his campaign as a candidate against incumbent New Haven-area Democratic U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro. Ferrucci, a New Haven local, said he plans to divert funds underwriting the war in Iraq to help pay for research on alternative fuel sources and to initiate programs that will create jobs to improve the local economy. Ferrucci and the Republican candidate Boaz Itshaky will have a difficult fight against the Connecticut political giant, who has garnered two decades of experience in Washington as a congresswoman.
The Ferrucci campaign may be especially tough this year, New Haven Green Party co-chair Charles Pillsbury ’70 said, because the Green Party is undergoing a what he called an existential crisis.
Because Green Party member Nader has branched off to form his own third-party caucus while former Georgia U.S. Representative Cynthia McKinney runs on the national Green Party ticket, Pillsbury said, the party has unofficially split in support of the two candidates — an act that has trickled down to the New Haven sphere. Ferrucci supports Nader, and some Green Party members may not be so thrilled with that, Pillsbury said.
Holding the ballot line
Green Party candidates have had a constant presence in New Haven congressional elections over the past decade. But by any objective measure, the Green Party will not win this race.
The Green Party will still run, some party members said. As long as the party remains on the ballot line in preparation for the next congressional election and influences the policy platform of the ultimate winner, the members added, the Green Party will remain a force in this town.
For his campaign, Ferrucci is not raising funds: “I’d hate to ask people to give money in a poor economy like this,” he said. But he does have a group of about a dozen close friends and high school students who are posting flyers and phone-banking New Haven residents in support of his candidacy.
When asked whether he has received support from other Green Party members, Ferrucci said, “It’s hard to ask them to do stuff.”
“They came to me. I didn’t come to them,” he said. “When it’s time to do some work, nobody’s around.”
In response, Ward 10 Alderman and Green Party member Allan Brison said he was “surprised” by Ferrucci’s comment, saying that the candidate was a “placeholder” for the ballot line.
“I didn’t think Ralph was that interested in running the real campaign,” he added.
But Ferrucci said that he wants to campaign and be “out on the streets talking to people.”
Candidate for life?
So far, there has not been much of a presence at Yale. Nicolas Niarchos ’11, head of Yale for Nader, said he had met Ferrucci and thinks the candidate is a “decent young man.” But Niarchos said he will not be proactively advocating for Ferrucci on campus and he has not heard of any Yalie who will. (Niarchos is a staff reporter for the News.)
And some city Democratic officials have not noticed the campaign at all.
“I’ve forgotten he was running,” Democratic Town Committee co-chair Susan Voigt first said when contacted by the News for this article.
But Green Party members said over the weekend that it is important to keep running so that their views are put in the public sphere.
Both Ferrucci and Pillsbury said the Green Party campaign has helped influence DeLauro’s policy plans. They claim that Although DeLauro was originally a supporter of the Iraq War, after campaigning from both Green Party members and Republicans against the war in 2002, she ultimately voted against it.
Adriana Surfas, spokeswoman for DeLauro, told the News on Sunday that DeLauro has been against the war “from the beginning.” She did not specifically answer the question of whether the Green Party had helped to change DeLauro’s mind.
Ferrucci has been running for election for some governmental position since 2003. He started as a Guilty Party candidate for New Haven mayor against incumbent John DeStefano Jr., and he ran for Congress against DeLauro in 2004 and for Senate against Lieberman 2006.
While cleaning up after fixing his campaign vehicle — a Pepperidge Farm cookie delivery truck — Ferrucci said Sunday the Green Party “has been slowly dwindling away.”
“I’m tired, and I’m not sure if I will do it again,” he said when asked whether he would run again if the election does not end in his favor.
“But then again,” he added, “I said that last year.”