It’s in a basement bar in West Philadelphia that Paul Glover says he’s starting to feel like a real candidate for governor.

For the last hour and a half, about 15 volunteers with the Green Party of Pennsylvania have been organizing, counting and notarizing signatures to be filed with Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State so Glover can run for governor against Democrat Tom Wolf and Republican Tom Corbett this fall.

After several months of work, it’s the final week before the state requires independent parties hand in their signatures, and up until now, no one was quite sure how many the Green Party had collected statewide. Now, everyone’s got an idea—and, with nervous optimism, it looks like Glover will reach the threshold.

The people in the basement of Cavanaugh’s University City represent a small portion of the small Green Party of Philadelphia which, like third parties all over the U.S., is made up of people whose first job is definitely not politics, and whose politics are wholeheartedly outside the mainstream, both in terms of their societal ideas and their continued thoughts on America’s two-party system.

Earlier in the week, I’d been talking with members of the state party, most of whom told me they hoped to have a better idea regarding signatures after the Cavanaugh’s meeting.

“We have not had a good grasp on the number of signatures collected in Philadelphia and we will have a better idea after this meeting,” said party chair Jay Sweeney, by email.

Since the Green Party is small and has limited resources, it’s often hard to coordinate signature-gathering efforts, even though said efforts are more important for third parties than anyone else (third parties are required about 17,000 signatures this year; Republicans and Democrats are required 2,000). Earlier in July, the party put out a Facebook post asking anyone who’s collected signatures, anywhere in Pennsylvania, to please send them in as soon as possible.

Those who collect signatures for the party often do so on their own time, and are rarely paid for their efforts. All over the room, there were volunteers who said they found a couple hours here, a few minutes there, to walk around their neighborhood and collect 100, 200, 400 signatures. Glover collected almost 700 himself.

Glenn Davis, a Green Party member running for state representative in the 190th District, collected signatures for Glover as he roamed his West Philly neighborhood collecting his own with two friends.

“My whole campaign is about education,” says Davis. “Basically, I’m just focused on new leadership, because my district is totally Democratic.”

Davis, who believes he collected about 600 signatures for his own campaign, notes that the Democratic party’s principles “are about profit over person … Republicans and Democrats are just like any normal marriage. Husband and wife, they fight, you know? But at the end of the day, they get in bed together, and the only people getting screwed are the people.”

Around 8:30pm, Robinson shows me an early estimate for signatures collected in Philadelphia: 9,782. This, he says, is much larger than anyone thought would come out of this meeting, especially since signatures gathered in the rest of the state have yet to be counted.

“It is a low final total,” Robinson says. “There are more than that in this room.”

Glover, the only candidate in Pennsylvania, I’m pretty sure, who sports cut-off jean shorts and a Bocce Ball club t-shirt to his party meetings, notes now it’s time to “invite Democrats to prove they believe in democracy, and Republicans to prove whether they believe in the republican form of government; whether they are willing for voters to have choices.”

He’s of course talking about the major parties’ habit of legal challenges to independent candidates’ signatures, which has resulted in the past in Green candidates having to pay out more than $80,000 to their opponents, and others dropping off the ballot before undergoing the legal ordeal.

On that potential challenge, says Glover, “all it can do is piss off independent voters.”

Update: Apparently too optimistic. A Facebook posting says the Green Party needs to collect another 3,000 signatures to put themselves over the top. Yikes.

About The Author

Staff writer

Randy LoBasso is the winner of the Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association's 2014 Distinguished Writing Award for his news and politics coverage at Philadelphia Weekly. He has also contributed to Alt Ledes, Salon, The Guardian and PennLive.

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