Delegates to the Socialist Party USA national convention in Los Angeles turned to their 2008 vice-presidential nominee yesterday to head the party’s ticket in the 2012 presidential sweepstakes. In nominating Stewart A. Alexander, an early frontrunner for the party’s top spot, the delegates turned back a late but spirited challenge from sociology professor Jerry Levy, a longtime activist in Vermont’s Liberty Union Party.
The 60-year-old Alexander defeated Levy by an unofficial count of 32-17 on the convention’s first and only ballot.
Alejandro (Alex) Mendoza of Fort Worth, Texas, an ex-Marine and owner of a lawn care business, was named as Alexander’s vice-presidential running mate. The little-known Mendoza, 35, was a last-minute recruit for the party’s second slot.
An attempt earlier in the day to place Cindy Sheehan’s name in nomination for the vice presidency was blocked by national secretary Greg Pason and other party leaders on the grounds that the celebrated antiwar activist — a member of the California-based Peace & Freedom Party — isn’t currently a dues-paying member of the Socialist Party USA.
In rejecting her potential candidacy, the party expressed its gratitude and admiration for Sheehan’s tireless work in the antiwar movement and the struggle for economic justice.
In capturing his party’s nomination nearly thirteen months before voters head to the polls, a buoyant Alexander told Uncovered Politics that his candidacy offers the Socialist Party “an opportunity to gain momentum” heading into next year’s presidential election.
A resident of Murrieta, California, Alexander said that he also plans to seek the Peace & Freedom Party’s presidential nomination in his home state and those of assorted left-leaning parties and groups in various other states around the country. (Hoping to serve as a catalyst for progressive change, the Peace & Freedom Party plans to promote a national left-wing ticket next year for the first time since 1972 when it unselfishly asserted itself in the fledgling People’s Party campaign of Dr. Benjamin Spock — providing much of the blood, sweat and tears in the famous pediatrician’s principled yet forlorn battle against Richard Nixon and George McGovern that year.)
“As the Occupy Wall Street movement vividly demonstrates, the American people are crying out and demanding change,” said Alexander, adding that he hopes his egalitarian message will serve as lightning rod for those dissatisfied on the Left.
Alexander, who prides himself on his working-class background, maintains that the Socialist Party historically has been the “the true representative of the Left,” a point he hopes to drive home not only to disillusioned progressives, but to millions of working-class and poor Americans who have been mercilessly pummeled during the current economic crisis — a near-catastrophic downturn caused almost entirely by the recklessness and avarice of those on Wall Street and their overt enablers in the nation’s capital, Democrats and Republicans alike.
President Obama, he likes to remind his audiences, received $37.6 million from Wall Street during the 2008 campaign.
A longtime civil rights activist who once ran for mayor of Los Angeles, the amiable and easy-going Alexander is certainly no stranger to third-party politics. In addition to serving as Brian P. Moore’s vice-presidential co-star on the Socialist ticket in 2008, he was the Peace & Freedom Party’s candidate for lieutenant-governor of California in 2006 and was an unsuccessful candidate for that party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2010, finishing a close second in a three-way contest.
The Socialist Party’s presidential ticket appeared on the ballot in eight states in each of the last two presidential elections.