Green Party candidate takes second run at Fifth District seat

Jay Pond hopes to impress voters in second bid for Fifth Congressional District seat

When Jay Pond ran as the Green Party candidate for the Fifth Congressional District seat in 2004, he garnered slightly more than 6 percent of the vote.

But in that race he was up against longtime DFL incumbent Martin Sabo, who will retire at the end of this term after serving 28 years in Congress. Now the seat is open, and Pond said the 18,000 votes he received in the last race helped him create a support base in a district that many political observers view as one of the most Democratic in the nation.

&#8220We're trying to target people who are really dissatisfied with where we're at as a democracy,” said Pond, who has once again nabbed the endorsement of the Green Party. &#8220I think people this round are going to be more open to listening to issues rather than just blindly going with the DFL.”

And he is confident that the traditionally DFL-dominated Fifth Congressional District has a block of voters ready to support a platform that pushes for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, universal health care, an investment in wind energy, immigration reform and the right to gay marriage.

&#8220This is one of the few districts of all the Congressional Districts in the United States that has the progressive numbers to truly elect a progressive like myself,” said Pond, a 47-year-old resident of the Lowry Hill East (Wedge) neighborhood who runs a video production company out of his home.

While political analysts aren't sure Pond can win, some agree that this is the one Congressional District in the state that might be able to support a Green candidate.

&#8220I think if there's going to be a Green candidate who could do well in Minnesota, it would be this district,” University of Minnesota Political Science Professor Larry Jacobs said in an interview on the Fifth Congressional District race back in April. &#8220But they're going to have to run a great campaign because the DFL organization in that district is pretty strong.”

Pond is hoping that using campaign tactics such as blogging and sending video e-mails will resonate with voters. Campaign co-manager Becki Smith said because Pond and the Green Party don't have a &#8220machine” of volunteers like the DFL to run the campaign - right now a core group of six volunteers is working for Pond - they are trying to be smart about how they campaign and to whom they cater their message. Campaign volunteers are also keeping their eye on which DFL candidate makes it through the primary, which will be critical to the dynamics of the race.

&#8220Nobody knows who's going to be on the November ballot for the Democrats,” Smith said.

After he lost to Sabo in 2002, Pond said he went to Washington, D.C., for a year to observe the inner workings of Congress. He knows the legislators he would want to work with on Capitol Hill and what committees he would strive to get on. Pond also boasts that his time in Washington helped him form connections that would allow him to work effectively with both parties if elected.

&#8220I've always been prepping. I know this is a long-term goal. The more you run, the better you get,” Pond said.

One of the biggest issues of Pond's platform is his stance on the war in Iraq. He sums up his position on the war in Iraq with three words: get out now. He wants to begin an immediate withdrawal of troops and give Iraqis control over restoration funds. He also wants to create a Cabinet-level Department of Peace. Pond said his antiwar stance does give him a unique position over Democrats.

&#8220There is a growing awareness that we have no opposition party to the war,” Pond said. &#8220 The Democratic Party cannot get focused and get a message out there of what they want. They're failing at that. And people realize that.”

Pond also advocates for single-payer, universal health care. He said the cost of health care is becoming such an issue that even white, middle-class families are beginning to feel the pressure.

&#8220What most people want is a system where everybody gets help,” Pond said. &#8220And to have a single payer is economically sensible.”

As a gay man who has been HIV-positive for more than a decade, many of Pond's positions are shaped by his personal life. In addition to advocating for affordable health care, he is a staunch supporter of gay marriage. He argues that if one person has the right to get a marriage license, all people should have that right.

&#8220Rather than play defense, which the Democratic Party has done, I say why not play offense?” Pond said.

Another key component of Pond's platform is his push for a greater reliance on renewable energy resources, especially wind power.

&#8220What Houston is to oil, Minneapolis could be to renewable energy,” Pond said. &#8220We live in a very rich region of renewable energy, particularly wind.”

Kari VanDerVeen can be reached at kvanderveen@mnpubs.com and 436-4373.