By Nadia Prupis / Common Dreams

Interest in Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein picked up in the days following Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Hillary Clinton. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Green Party kicked off its national convention in Houston, Texas, on Thursday, where presumptive nominee Jill Stein will present a third-party challenge to Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The convention will run from August 4-7. The proceedings are expected to include keynote speeches from scholar and activist Dr. Cornel West, who endorsed Stein over Clinton after Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race, and Philadelphia-based activist YahNé Ndgo. Local Green Party candidates for office will also appear.

Stein is expected to accept her party’s nomination on August 6.

On Wednesday, CNN announced it would host a Green Party town hall on August 17—offering the party a rare chance to access the large media platform usually reserved for establishment candidates.

CNN writes:

This time around, Stein has hoped to capitalize on Clinton’s low favorability ratings and the breakout performance of the self-declared Democratic Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders.

While Sanders endorsed Clinton and has pledged to ensure she becomes the next president, Stein has spent much of her efforts appealing to Sanders’ most diehard supporters. She has claimed the support of some of them, including the scholar Cornel West.

The theme of insurgent candidates was prominent throughout the election. Now, with Sanders out of the race, 2016 has become “the best and worst year to be Jill Stein,” as Bloomberg puts it.

Bloomberg writes:

Stein has yet to break 5 percent in national polling averages. She’ll have to get to 15 percent to secure a spot at the presidential debates alongside Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, and possibly Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate, whose polling averages lie south of 10 percent. The better Stein does in November, the more states will guarantee the Green Party’s 2020 nominee a spot on the ballot. If she reaches 5 percent of the national popular vote, the party will get millions in federal campaign funds in the next election. As of June 30, Stein’s presidential campaign had taken in $859,000.

Stein’s supporters are passionate—but so are her detractors.

“We don’t have time to wait another eight years with another Democratic president that’s not going to do anything,” Roberto Ojeda, president of the Young Democrats at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida, told Bloomberg. “Meanwhile our planet is dying, people are dying on the streets, there is abject poverty.”

In contrast, Braddock, Pennsylvania Mayor John Fetterman said a vote for Stein amounts to a vote for Trump.

But ultimately, the support for Stein’s policies shows voters are fed up with the major parties, Stein said.

“It’s kind of funny that these big politicians think there’s an entitlement, a new kind of entitlement, that big politicians are entitled to our vote,” she told the Houston Chronicle in an interview on Wednesday. “I don’t think the American voters think that way.”


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