Home>Campaigns>Gay, Muslim-born rabbi from New Jersey seeking Green Party presidential nomination

Former Youngstown (Ohio) school board member Dario Hunter, a New Jersey native, is seeking the Green Party nomination for President in 2020. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Gay, Muslim-born rabbi from New Jersey seeking Green Party presidential nomination

Dario Hunter, a former Ohio school board member, faces Howie Hawkins, others for Green nod

By David Wildstein, May 02 2020 8:42 pm

The Green Party of New Jersey is deciding which of three presidential candidates will get their five delegates at their national convention in July.

One of the contenders is New Jersey native Dario Hunter, who grew up in Newark and Jersey City public housing projects and until this year an elected member of the Youngstown (Ohio) Board of Education.

The 36-year-old Hunter is an openly gay rabbi who is the son of a Iranian immigrant father and an African American mother.  Born in Livingston, he graduated Princeton University and the University of Detroit Law School and worked as an environmental lawyer in Israel before moving to Youngstown.  He is the first Muslim-born person to be ordained as a Rabbi.

Hunter was fired from his rabbinic position after supporting Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.  He narrowly lost re-election to his school board seat in 2019, losing by one half of one-percent of the vote.

The apparent front runner for the nomination is Howie Hawkins, an early leader of the Green Party movement and a three-time candidate for governor of New York.

“I’m calling for an eco-socialist green new deal,” Hawkins told New Jersey Green Party members.  “I was the first candidate to run on a green new deal in 2010, running for Governor of New York.”

Hawkins currently leads Hunter in delegates, 88.5 to 34.5.  Six other candidates have combined to win 22 other delegates.  A candidate will need a majority of the 402 delegates to win the nomination.

New Jersey Greens, which supported Jill Stein in her 2016 bid for the Green presidential nomination, will close their balloting on May 5.  Videos from most of the presidential candidates – only Hunter, Hawkins and David Rolde are official candidates – were played for party members at an online state convention Saturday.

In the general election, Stein finished fourth in a field of nine presidential candidates on the New Jersey ballot four years ago.  She received 36,772 votes, just under one percent.

Stein received 9,886 votes in New Jersey, about one-quarter of one percent, in her 2012 presidential bid.

Cynthia McKinney, a former Georgia congresswoman, received 3,636 votes (.09%) in New Jersey in 2008, and David Cobb won 1,807 votes (.05%) in 2004.  I

The top performance by a Green Party candidate in New Jersey was in 2000, when 94,554 votes (3%) were cast for consumer activist Ralph Nader.

New Jersey has 11,359 voters registered as members of the Green Party, up 270% from 3,068 since Donald Trump’s election in November 2016.

Only California, New York and Maine have more voters registered as members of the Green Party.

The Green National Convention, scheduled for July in South Carolina, was called off last week due to the coronavirus pandemic and instead will be held online.

Just one Green Party member has served in the New Jersey Legislature.

In 2003, Assemblyman Matthew Ahearn became a member of the Green Party.  His party switch came after Bergen County Democrats said they would not back Ahearn, a former Fair Lawn deputy mayor, for re-election to a second term for his 38th district Assembly seat.

Ahearn sought re-election as the Green candidate and finished fifth with 4,357 votes (5.4%) against Democrats Bob Gordon, a former Fair Lawn mayor, and Joan Voss, a Fair Lawn councilwoman.

The only independent candidate to win elections for the New Jersey Legislature since before the Civil War was Anthony Imperiale, a Newark city councilman and North Ward vigilante.  Imperiale was elected as an independent to the State Assembly in 1971 and the State Senate in 1973.

Imperiale lost his Senate seat in 1977 to Frank E. Rodgers, a Democrat who served as mayor of Harrison for 48 years.  He made a political comeback in 1979, winning the North Ward/Hudson County Assembly seat as a Republican against three-term incumbent John Cali (D-Kearny) by 970 votes.

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