Green Party Supports Democratic Challenger to Rep. Shays

With polls showing a tight matchup in this year's 4th Congressional District race, the Green Party is withdrawing its candidate and throwing support to Democrat Diane Farrell.

"We decided to have a strategic alliance with the Democratic Party because we believed this was the quickest way to achieve peace in the Middle East," said John Sieh, treasurer for Richard Duffee, the Green Party's 4th District candidate.

Farrell, who hopes to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays in the southwestern Connecticut district, has called on President Bush to fire Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. She has also urged Congress to set benchmarks for the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

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Shays has supported the war. But in August, he said the U.S. should consider setting a timeline for troop withdrawals from Iraq.

The race is a rematch of the 2004 contest, which Shays won with 52 percent of the vote to Farrell's 48 percent. Shays won by about 14,000 votes.

The Green Party believes it can deliver about 1,300 votes from the 4th District. Statewide, there are approximately 2,000 registered Green Party members and about 1,000 mostly unaffiliated voters who support Green Party candidates in elections.

A news conference announcing the endorsement was scheduled for 2:30 p.m. in Norwalk.

Sieh said Farrell's campaign approached the Greens about three weeks ago. Both sides have been negotiating ever since. On Saturday, 4th District Green Party members held a convention and decided to notify the Secretary of the State to black out Duffee's name on the Nov. 7 ballot. The deadline for such a request is Tuesday.

Aside from the war in Iraq, Sieh said the Greens like Farrell's position on the environment, including her support for biodiesel fuel and mass transit. In return for Greens' support, Farrell has agreed to post the Green Party's issues on her campaign web site and to support the party's participation in future debates.

Duffee, 57, is a poet and writer who also has worked as an environmental lawyer and a high school science teacher. He has participated in two of 11 debates.

Sieh called the alliance with the Democrats "an historical event" and said it will ultimately empower the Greens and improve voters' perceptions of the minor party.

"We are not spoilers. We want to let the press and the country know that we are modern 21st century politicians," he said. "We're way beyond egos. We're about issues and getting them done."