Stein Selects Activist Ajamu Baraka as Vice-Presidential Choice
On Monday night, presumptive Green Party nominee Jill Stein announced the selection of Ajamu Baraka as her running mate. The pair will be officially nominated by the party during its convention in Houston this weekend.
Stein, who also the 2012 Green nominee, dominated the Green Party primaries, which ended with the Michigan and Florida contests on Sunday. She won all but one state primary election. In a race with about 400 delegates, she bested the runner-up by more than 200.
Stein graduated from Harvard in 1973 with a degree in psychology, sociology, and anthropology before graduating from the university’s medical school in 1979. She then practiced internal medicine for 25 years and retired in 2005, beginning a teaching career the following year.
Dr. Stein has run unsuccessfully in Massachusetts for Governor, House, and Secretary of the Commonwealth. Her only electoral successes came in 2005 and 2008, when she ran for election and re-election to become a member of the Lexington Town Meeting. Following her time there, she ran for President in 2012, earning 469,627 votes (0.36% of the popular vote), good enough for fourth-place.
In 2012, Stein selected activist Cheri Honkala as her running-mate. On August 1 of that year, they were arrested during a sit-in in Philadelphia to protest the foreclosures of homes by Fannie Mae. On October 16, they were again arrested after attempting to enter the site of the second presidential debate at Hofstra University. Honkala became perhaps best-known during the 2016 cycle for organizing a “fart-in” during the Democratic National Convention to protest the nomination of Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. This act of defiance included her hosting of a “massive bean supper” beforehand entitled “Beans for Hillary.”
Stein’s running-mate for 2016, Ajamu Baraka, is also an activist with no elected experience. He previously served as the founding executive director of the US Human Rights Network. He had also been an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. He has been involved in many social justice causes, but his greatest influence has been in the area of the death penalty. In 2001, he received the “Abolitionist of the Year” award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty for his work in the area.
Baraka has been very critical of the Obama administration in its handling of race. He criticized the President for not attending 2009 UN World Conference Against Racism in Geneva. He also said that Obama’s invitation to and attendance of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington “should be taken as an insult by everyone who has struggled and continues to struggle for human rights, peace and social justice.” Baraka would later decry Obama for not labeling Charleston shooter Dylann Roof as a terrorist.
Baraka has also built a reputation as someone wary of foreign interventionism. He stated that the past several decades of foreign policy have been “disastrous,” and that “what has occurred in Iraq was predictable.”
In selecting Baraka, Stein is clearly attempting to reach out to Black Lives Matter protesters and social justice advocates on the left of the political spectrum. Stein has for the past several months attempted to appeal to Democrats and in particular disaffected Bernie Sanders supporters. Stein even went so far as to offer to resign her position as the presidential nominee if Sanders would be willing to take the position. However, as Breitbart reports, Baraka has been critical of Sanders in the past, and this could hinder efforts to reach out to Sanders voters.
Nonetheless, Stein has made it clear that she will attempt to stake out a spot far to the left of Hillary Clinton. While Stein is at this point running in fourth-place, she has the potential to advance her causes and lift the Green Party to some level of prominence.