With the dust still settling from the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and anthrax scares rippling through the city, the New York City press and its voters paid little heed to a pair of drug reform-sympathetic candidates, Tom Leighton of the Marijuana Reform Party and Kenny "The Real" Kramer, running as a Libertarian. Suffering an almost total media blackout, both candidates barely cracked the 1% mark, with Kramer polling 2,033 and Leighton polling 1,561 out of almost 1.4 million votes cast. Liberal media mogul turned conservative Republican Michael Bloomberg won the election over Democrat Mark Green with 50% of the vote. The MRP and LP candidates placed sixth and seventh in the nine-man, at least beating former subway shooter and current squirrel-lover Bernhard Goetz, who ran on the Fusion Party ticket.
Other Marijuana Reform Party standard bearers did slightly better, with Dr. Tracy Blevins (aka Marijuana Barbie) pulling down 2% in her bid for city comptroller and Chris Lanois getting an equal share in his race for public advocate, the position long held by Green.
Gary Reams' "Reams Reeferendum," where the Northern Virginia telecom manager turned a bid for the lieutenant governor's office into a de facto plebiscite on marijuana law reform, ran into similar problems. While the campaign had been talking about three, four, or five per cent of the vote and dreaming of 10%, Reams actually polled 1.56%, in line with previous third-party efforts in the state.
"We are both pleased and disappointed," Reams campaign manager Jim Turney told DRCNet. "Where we were able to get our message out, we did well. In Charlottesville, where we campaigned heavily, we got 6.7%, and in two precincts there we got around 10%. But these attacks killed us. In these last few weeks, on the media it's been all anthrax all the time."
It was a bizarre campaign season, said Turney. "We weren't battling our opponents as much as we were trying to compete against suicidal terrorists and anthrax mailings. That wasn't fun. And for a few critical weeks, the campaign basically came to a standstill. It would have been viewed as disrespectful to continue."
It is hard to wage a campaign that way, said Turney. "The other campaigns could get around the media blackout by buying ads, but we couldn't afford to do that," he said.
Reams and Turney may be down, but they are definitely not out, said the campaign manager. "Gary will continue to speak out on the issue. We've had some invitations to do op-eds for newspapers in the state, and we'll take advantage of that. And there may be other political opportunities. Gary Reams is now known as the man willing to take a stand on marijuana prohibition. You'll see him on a regular basis."