Michael Morrill, Green Party candidate for Pennsylvania governor, made a difference in the Nov. 5 election although he received only 1 percent of the vote. Morrill won 38,080 votes in spite of being ignored by the media, having inexperienced organizers, and lacking funds and name recognition.

In every debate Morrill expressed the most progressive views and was far more articulate than the other candidates: Democrat Ed Rendell, Republican Mike Fisher and Libertarian Ken Krawchuk. Morrill had an advanced program: improving Pennsylvania’s economy by providing real job training that would lead to living wage jobs ($11 per hour); stopping corporate welfare which often results in corporations leaving without creating promised jobs; giving grants to local people to expand and create new community-based businesses, farms and cooperatives, and repairing Pennsylvania’s infrastructure schools, public transportation, low-cost housing, highways and bridges.

Calling attention to the state’s serious air pollution problems, Morrill said he would work for repeal of electric deregulation and encourage municipally owned utilities with fair rates and ‘energy produced by the cleanest means possible.’

Rendell campaigned on improving and adequately funding public schools, reducing property taxes and raising additional funds from slot machines at racetracks. But again Morrill had better ideas and solutions. He spoke out against the corporate takeover of schools in Philadelphia and Chester. ‘Public Money Only For Public Schools!’ said his literature. He called for restructuring of Pennsylvania’s tax system, saying, ‘We need to create a wealth tax and a progressive income tax. This would require a long overdue constitutional amendment.’ Morrill called for accessible, affordable day care, addition of pre-school and after-school programs, and construction of many needed schools, and for universal health coverage.

When Morrill declared his candidacy for governor, he said, ‘As governor I will use the bully pulpit to address the scourge of racism, sexism, homophobia and classism in our society. I promise no person will be executed under my watch.’ He favored real campaign finance reform in Pennsylvania, which is one of 13 states that does not limit individual or PAC contributions. Democrat Ed Rendell spent $37 million to become governor while Republican Mike Fisher spent $13 million. In a real democracy all candidates would have equal access to communicate their message to the electorate. Morrill won’t apologize for being idealistic or refusing to ‘walk in the middle of the road’ on the issues.

Mike Fisher, the Republican candidate, was anti-union, pro-corporate welfare, anti-women’s rights and pro-war, and made Rendell look like a liberal. Philadelphians know who Rendell really is – a deal maker, a friend to big business, a closet Republican who says he is for the people and can turn on the charm. As mayor, Rendell balanced Philadelphia’s budget on the backs of city workers. He tried unsuccessfully to privatize many city jobs. While he was mayor, Pennsylvania taxpayers paid $450 million to a Norwegian shipbuilder to take over the former naval shipyard in Philadelphia and create 1,000 jobs. The company sold its shipbuilding business to another company, and the project has still not been completed nor the promised jobs created. And he is ready to execute Mumia Abu-Jamal. Rendell must be monitored along with the majority Republican legislature.

The fact that the majority of eligible voters did not vote or were confused about the issues presents a serious challenge for progressive candidates. Morrill expressed many progressive ideas and solutions to Pennsylvania’s problems. If the Green Party and other progressive organizations keep these issues before the public, perhaps the state can look forward to a better future.

Rosita Johnson is a People’s Weekly World Editorial Board member in Philadelphia. She can be reached at phillyrose1@earthlink.net

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