After being called a potential spoiler in the race for mayor of Louisville, independent Jackie Green says members of Democrat Greg Fischer’s campaign are trying to persuade him to dropout before Election Day. The small business owner says he isn’t withdrawing, however. But he acknowledges that there are ongoing discussions with Fischer about adopting parts of his platform if he’ll step down.
“I’m in it to win,” says Green. “I’m in it until the end, but we’ve spent some significant time talking about my plan around environmental and transportation policy with Fischer’s team. All along we entered this race for three reasons: to change the conversation, to change the major party candidates platforms and, of course, to occupy the Mayor’s Office.”
For the past few months, the bicycle advocate has been pushing both Fischer and Republican Hal Heiner to adopt key provisions from his platform. Earlier this week, Green met with Fischer one-on-one to discuss the importance of forwarding a more progressive agenda. Specifically, Green wants the Democratic nominee to put public transportation as a priority ahead of the $4.1 billion Ohio River Bridges Project and a pledge to put funding for existing neighborhoods over any new development projects.
LEO Weekly has learned that the independent candidate also met with Fischer campaign spokesman Chris Poynter, policy director Brandon Coan, and supporter and local businessman Gill Holland, in which it was discussed what policies Fischer could adopt to get Green to withdraw and endorse Fischer.
In a telephone interview, Green says he hasn’t seen the Fischer campaign move in a direction that would cause him to drop out and support Fischer, but believes the issues he’s raised are being paid attention to.
The Fischer campaign would neither confirm nor deny that any meetings with Green have taken place.
“We’d welcome Jackie Green’s endorsement. He brings an invaluable and unique perspective to the race and shines a light on some very important issues that are facing our city,” says Poynter. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
When asked about the details of the meeting and if the Fischer campaign is trying to push Green out of the race, Holland, who served on Fischer’s environmental committee, would not comment.
In a tight mayoral race where most polls have shown either a tie or slim lead for Fischer, Green’s candidacy has been described by some as a potential repeat of Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential campaign. In a recent story, for instance, The Courier-Journal talked to representatives with the local Sierra Club, who told the newspaper that they agree with Green’s positions but are endorsing Fischer instead.
The environmental activists added that they are worried Green could cost Fischer the race, which is a suggestion that the independent disagrees with.
“Every time I go to an event there are Fischer supporters who say that they’re afraid I’m going to turn this over to Heiner. And I tell them, Fischer is turning this over to Heiner,” says Green. “These groups are betting on who will cross the finish line. They’re placing bets and not making a statement to their values or where we need to go as a community. Ultimately, they’re selling themselves short and selling out to power rather than staying true to their principles.”
Green says there is mounting pressure to get him out of the race by various other groups as well, but he isn’t budging because the specific issues he’s put forth resonate with parts of the community that the major party candidates are ignoring.
The Heiner campaign says the series of secret meetings with Green, and Fischer’s possible offers for him to get out of the race shows desperation on Fischer’s part in the last weeks of the mayoral campaign.
“If there are meetings to try and get Jackie out of the race it’s not surprising because it’s so close and Fischer is concerned,” says Joe Burgan, Heiner’s campaign manager. “What I don’t like to hear is the tactic that they would use to push him out. That’s the old line establishment thinking that we aren’t going to go out and win votes. That’s the politics of old that people are tired of and the type of campaigning we’d never undertake.”
In the last hour other media outlets have reported that Green has told Fischer he wants “significant” input in picking the head of the Office of Sustainability — a new office proposed by the Democratic nominee.
Though the Fischer campaign wouldn’t confirm or deny the meetings with LEO, it has acknowledged sitting down with Green to other news organizations, saying no job has been offered to the bicycle advocate.
In a telephone interview earlier today, however, Green said that he told Fischer’s campaign that he doesn’t trust them to appoint someone from their team to the office, and that he or someone should either run or select who operates it.
From WFPL’s The Edit:
“Put real power in that office and let us elect the leadership of that office,” (Green) says. “Us being the Jackie Green for mayor team.”
In an e-mail sent to LEO, Green outlines the discussion with both of his opponents, saying that he is seeking to exact commitments from Heiner and Fischer before considering dropping out of the race and endorsing a cooperative mayoral candidate. The e-mail goes on to say that the Heiner wants Green in the race while the Fischer cam is drafting “a document that will accomplish this.”