Chris Lugo, Green Party of Tennessee Candidate for US Senate 2006

In 2006, this was the official website for Chris Lugo's campaign for the US Senate from Tennessee.
Content is from the website's 2006 archived pages.


Vote for Peace in 2006

Campaign Wrap Up 

Well the elections are over and I wanted to thank everyone for their support of the Green Party and progressive candidates this election season. First I wanted to thank all the progressives who ran in Tennessee, starting with Robert Smith in East Tennessee who ran for Congress in the 1st District as a Green, Katey Culver who ran in the Seventh District for Congress as a Green, Ginny Welsch who ran in the 5th District as a progressive independent candidate for Congress, Johnathan Davidson who ran for State House District 52 as a progressive independent candidate, Marivuana Hempalot who ran Governor, Howard Switzer who ran for Governor as a Green candidate. In all the progressive candidates for office and Greens collectivelly pulled in over 10,000 votes statewide. I think this is a big victory because it means that there are at least 10,000 people in Tennessee who support a progressive or Green agenda. 

My main objective in running for office this year was to give peace a voice at the ballot box. About 2500 people felt so strongly about peace that this is what they voted for on November 7th and I think that is very exciting. I hadn't planned on stepping into such a big race nor such a tight race this year, and in many ways it was just a good year to run. The Senate seat was an open seat, the representative stepping down was the Senate majority leader, the major party candidates were both conservative and the race was tight so it was getting a lot of national media attention. 

I made a lot of Democrats nervous this campaign season and Harold Ford Jr. spent a lot of energy on telling the Democrats not to vote Green. His campaign called me the "Tennessee Ralph Nader" and told Democrats not to give in to the temptations of the Green party again like they did in 2000. The pressure and bullying that the Democratic party took this year with Greens and progressives was huge and it worked, but it still didn't bring them victory in Tennessee. I think was an important lesson, which goes to show that even if you decide to sell out your vote, you still might lose. 

Perhaps it is a calculated gamble that some progressives are willing to make, I would estimate that several percentage points of Democrats made that choice this year in Tennessee, and decided to vote for someone who has voted for war, voted for torture, voted against civil rights for the glbt community, voted for limiting first amendment rights and sat in a church with a cross behind him while he informed voters that he voted for the patriot act, against immigrants and proudly boasted of voting for five trillion dollars in defense expenditures in the last ten years. 

I was able to fundraise $3000 this campaign season which went to paying for 250 yard signs, 500 bumper stickers, 1500 business cards, 200 buttons and two major advertisements in the Memphis Flyer and Nashville Tennessean as well as one ad in the Hellbender Press. I also spent campaign funds on tables at the gay pride festival and Tennessee state fair as well as spending money on printing and mail. A small amount of money was also spent on technical needs including $7 for a new printer at goodwill and $85 for a new harddrive for my laptop. I spent the remaining money on gas for campaign road trips to Memphis, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Clarksville, Maryville, Johnson City and elsewhere. 

My campaign received 25,000 google entries related to this particular campaign which showed me that utilitzing the internet was an important strategy for getting the message out. This campaign was also able to get the message out about twenty five times on big media hits such as articles in major newspapers, television interviews, or radio interviews. Additionally we used alternative media quite effectively statewide and we were able to get into the small press a number of times. I think the most effective strategy this season was definitely utilizing any free media such as blogs, indymedia and voterwebsites. 

I think as a collection the progressive candidates statewide have offered a progressive slate and a peace slate for the first time in recent memory and I think we put on a hell of a show and scared the democrats, which they needed. I still can't believe the people they put up this year, a Governor who cut 323,000 Tennesseans off of health care and a Senate candidate who was trying to be as Republican as possible. Like I told the MTSU paper the other day, if your choice is between a Republican and a republican you will always choose the Republican. Thankfully this year we also had a Green to choose from and I received dozens of emails from people who were so happy that there was a choice this year. 

Now, after talking abou the good things about the campaign, I have to look at this campaign seriously and reflect on what could have been better. I can tell you this, I learned a hell of a lot this campaign season, and running for office is not like anything I thought it was going to be. Politics is a surreal, bizarre where the laws of common sense are upside down, inside out and backwards and nothing is what it seems. It is clear to me after having been a candidate for the past year that we do not live in a democracy. We live in an oligarchy and that has become so obvious to me. It is also apparent that we live in a mediaocracy and that most Americans equate democracy with television and the consumer mentality which it fosters. People do not really make democratic choices in this culture, they make passive choices about predetermined products which are essentially identical and which are generally bad for their health. 

Nonetheless, having said this I can tell you that the most important thing that I learned from this campaign was to ask for money and to ask for a lot of money. This seems counterintuitive to me as a Green because I made a pledge to myself at the beginning of this campaign to not ask for money, except in small amounts that average people could give. My average contribution this year has been about $20 and I raised about $3000 altogether. 

Having said this and feeling that I still believe this generally, I must say that my practical experience as a candidate was that there were a lot of people willing to give me a lot of money that I just didn't tap because I wasn't willing to go there as a candidate, but now I see how much I needed that money. The reason I needed the money is because I have heard person after person say that they didn't know anything about my campaign until they saw me interviewed 
on television or heard me on the radio. 

Unfortunately, even running as a Green who will never win in Tennessee, still there are a lot of Tennesseans, perhaps as many as ten or fifteen percent who are truly progressives and in order to mobilize those voters we need money to put out television ads and radio spots because that is the only way to reach almost ninety percent of the voters. 

Although my ultimate goal would be campaign finance reform, in the meantime, the practical reality is that progressive candidates in Tennessee are going to need to do fundraising to get their message out. Even though we are going to continue to lose in Tennessee for some time to come, we won't even register in the eyes of most Tennesseans until we start doing some serious fundraising. 

Once we do that fundraising and have the money then Tennesseans will know that we exist and to me that is so important. Most of the progressives I know felt alone this election season and many of the ones I knew were so glad that at least someone was running. I think I did a good job of getting the message out via the alternative means I had available, most especially utilizing the internet, but if we want to be even perceived as a "third" party or an alternative we are going to have to raise money and build a real infrastructure to do it. We still won't win but at least we will have more than we do right now, which is the lack of a real voice in the mainstream dialogue. 

Regarding running Greens locally versus statewide, I think we need to continue to do both. In Knoville they are running Greens locally and even though they are losing, they are continuing to build, having received thirty five percent in one recent Knoxville election. I think running candidates for statewide office is very important though, because that 
puts a voice into the election, which is ground central for the body politic. There is no time when people are more concerned about politics or what is happening in the country than during an election, and that is exactly when we need to make sure that we are being included. 

So that is my campaign wrap up. I want to thank so many people who contributed to this campaign over the year. I would like to thank everyone who financially contributed as well as thanks to the Nashville Peace Coalition for inspiring me to run in the first place, especially thanks to Joey King who first wrote to me at the beginning of the year about the idea and informed me of how to get on the ballot. Thanks to the Green Party of Tennessee for holding a nominating convention in March and thanks to Howard, Katey and Robert for stepping up to the plate at that convention. Thanks to Cynthia Rosenberry for all of her hard work on the Chris Lugo for Senate website and thanks to Chip Flippin for hosting his hair cutathons for peace. Thanks to Marty Pleasant, Bill Stone, Scott Banbury, Hannah Burdine, Shannon Miller, NiniThomas, Dan Sweeton, Beth Maple Hayes, Tennessee Indymedia, Rod Young, Wes Rehnberg, the Longhouse Coalition and the so many people who were part of the campaign this year in one way or another. I hope that I have lived up to at least some expectations for carrying the banner for the Green Party this year and for the Peace movement and I hope that we can build on everyone's collective efforts to build an even stronger Green/Peace/Progressive coalition in Tennessee. 

Chris Lugo 
Green Party of Tennessee 
2006 Candidate for US Senate




Lugo Runs on Peace - Article
Manchester Daily News
November 01 2006

Lugo Runs on Peace 

By Mary Hiers 
Daily Living Editor 

With all the state and national attention directed at the U.S. Senate campaign between Republican Bob Corker and Democrat Harold Ford, Jr., it is easy to forget that there are other candidates running for the same office. 

Nashvillian Chris Lugo is the Green Party’s candidate for the seat being vacated by Majority Leader Bill Frist. 

Lugo doesn’t mince words when it comes to his platform: “I want an end to this illegal, immoral and unjust war in Iraq that has claimed the lives of over two thousand Americans and has cost us hundreds of billions of dollars,” he says on his website, 

Originally from Minnesota, Lugo spent time as a child living in Clarksville while his father was stationed at Fort Campbell during the Vietnam War era. He now lives in the Wedgewood-Houston area of Nashville. 

In an interview with TSI, Lugo says that he is running for the U.S. Senate for the same reason as Ned Lamont from Connecticut. Lamont is the Democrat who beat out former vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman for the primary nomination, forcing Lieberman to run as an Independent. Lamont has come out strongly in favor of ending the war in Iraq, as has Chris Lugo. 

As a third part candidate, Lugo faces tasks that don’t plague the two major party candidates. For one thing, he has had to plead, so far unsuccessfully, to be allowed to participate in the debates between Ford and Corker. Candidates are not included in debates unless they are pulling at least 7.5% of the vote in the state. 

Lugo has proposed other alternatives to those in charge of setting up the debates, such as allowing candidates of parties other than the Democratic and Republican parties to have a brief time set aside either before or after the debate to make a statement. So far, his pleas have not met with success. 

Lugo’s campaigning has been primarily at the grass roots level: building his web site, going door to door, speaking to high school civics students, and participating in various rallies, such as today’s “Give Peace a Voice” rally sponsored by the Nashville Peace Coalition. 

In addition to calling for an end to the war in Iraq, Lugo is also adamant that the United States should sign on to the Kyoto Protocol. 

In 1998, President Bill Clinton signed the Kyoto Protocol, which called for a seven percent reduction in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 emissions levels, to be achieved between the years 2008 and 2012. The senate refused to ratify the treaty, however, and after taking office in 2001, President Bush rescinded the U.S. signature altogether, putting forth his own plan for the reduction of U.S. greenhouse gases. 
Over 160 countries worldwide have signed on to the Kyoto Protocol, but the two most prominent exceptions are the United States and Australia. 

Lugo believes that America’s addiction to oil, particularly foreign oil, is the number one environmental issue facing the U.S. Sustainability and decentralization of energy are two of Lugo’s major environmental themes. 

Though he is only polling in the single digits, Chris Lugo plans to celebrate election night regardless. Even though he knows his chances for victory are very slim, Lugo feels compelled to speak out in this contest that is being watched nationally. “I just want to make sure [these issues] are on the table,” he says. 

And Chris Lugo is busy putting the issues out there, sometimes literally one kitchen table at a time.


Green Party Candidate Drums Up Local Support
Article - Murfreesboro Daily News Journal
November 03 2006

Green Party candidate drums up local support 

By Turner Hutchens 

The Daily News Journal 
— Turner Hutchens, 278-5161 

Democrats and the Republicans aren't the only options on Election Day. 
Green Party U.S. Senate candidate Chris Lugo, who is competing against Democrat Harold Ford Jr. and Republican Bob Corker, was in town Thursday at MTSU to drum up support for his progressive platform. 

"I know I'm a protest vote, " Lugo told the crowd of about 25, mostly college students. "You don't like what the Democrats are doing; you don't like what the Republicans are doing, but you still have a vote." 

Lugo, a 36-year-old longtime Nashville peace activist, is campaigning on an anti-war, pro-choice, pro-gay and lesbian rights, environmentalist, nuclear-free future, immigrants-rights and living-wage platform. 
"These are issues Tennesseans care about," Lugo said. 

Sera Mogan, a 24-year-old MTSU graduate student, attended the campaign stop. 

"I support anyone that can offer the people a platform that's not on the right or slightly to the left of right," Mogan said. 

Lugo said he doesn't expect to win Tuesday's election, which is considered a tight race between Corker and Ford, but that it's important for there to be a progressive candidate. 

"Otherwise, you have choice between a conservative Republican and a Democrat who talks like a Republican," Lugo said. 

Lugo said he isn't worried about spoiling the race for Ford, because he believes the people who vote for him will either be Green Party members or people who wouldn't have voted at all. 

"If Ford's going to win, he's going to win on his own merits," Lugo said. 
Lugo said he expects to get only about 1 percent of the vote, but that he believes it's important to bring a voice to the election that would not otherwise be heard. 

"It didn't have to be me," Lugo said. "It could have been anyone. So do vote for me, vote for these issues." 





Pine Magazine Endorses Chris Lugo for US Senate
November 02 2006

Not With My Vote You Don't 

Why I am not voting for Harold Ford 
By Kelly Boler 

Posted: 11/02/2006 

[Editor's Note: We'll have a column giving equal time to Corker soon enough, so don't worry little ones. We're picking on everyone.] 

There is tremendous pressure here in Tennessee to vote Harold Ford, Jr., in the upcoming Senate race. Tennessee is one of the three states whose outcome in this race could result in the control of Congress going to the Democrats. No one has to tell me how important this is, but I’ve done a lot of research and a lot of soul searching, and now I’m putting it out there for God and everyone to read: on Tuesday, I will not be voting for Harold Ford, Jr. 

The conventional wisdom has it that a vote against Ford is a de facto vote for Bush, but the truth is that a vote for Ford is also a vote for a lot of other things, and so help me, I’m not using my vote to encourage a guy who is for the death penalty, against the painful right to choose a legal abortion, and against gun control. This is a man who voted to privatize social security. He supports an in-your-face Defense of Marriage Act that will somehow protect the family and make the very fabric of American society safer. Well thank goodness for that, because Ford boasts on his Web site about his record in funding the so-called War on Terror to the tune of five trillion dollars. (Does anyone reading this, anyone, care to guess how many zeroes are in five trillion anything? Way the hell too many, that’s how many.) And he further brags that he voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act. Thanks for protecting my family, Harold. 

He voted to keep the words “Under God” in the pledge of allegiance, supported school prayer, and voted to make it illegal to burn a flag. Now, personally I’m for prayer and against flag burning, but horrified that either should be in the province of the government. I’m also disturbed by the prospect of a senator who uses God by posing in a pew in front of a cross, then makes a statement to the press that Republicans don’t love the Lord. Republicans don’t love God? What were his people smoking when they thought up that one? 

Particularly troubling is that because Harold Ford, Jr., is Black, and many in the country are saying that the result of the Tennessee election will be a far-reaching mandate on race in the Southern electorate. Even NPR reported last week that Barak Ombaba was watching this election closely as a bell-weather in his consideration for a presidential run, to see if Southerners will put an African American in office. But they’re wrong. If Ford loses this election, it will not be because of his skin color, and if the press and pundits can’t figure out that he is losing on his own merit, then they are even more lemming-like than they seem.

I will not be pressured into voting for Ford, not because I have to something to prove about the South, and not because otherwise the Republicans run the Senate. The pressure to do so is incredible, but I still have a choice. The Democratic Party is, again, offering disturbingly flawed goods, and I ain’t buying. Instead I’ll be voting for Chris Lugo, the Green Party candidate, and I do not consider it a vote wasted. It is to tell the Democratic Party, again, that if this is the best they can do, forget it. Next time try trusting us. Go crazy, walk on the wild side, and try giving us a choice.