With the general election well underway, many voters remain unexcited by the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, giving third-party candidates an opportunity to elbow their way onto the race's main stage. One third-party candidate is hoping to cash in on supporters of Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders who may be disillusioned with their party's current presumptive nominee. But who Jill Stein picks as her vice president could impact her favorability with Sanders supporters.
Stein began seriously courting Sanders supporters earlier this week when, in an interview with CNN's "New Day," she offered up her Green Party as a viable means of continuing the revolution the Vermont senator started should he choose to endorse presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the end. "If Bernie endorses Hillary, I urge Bernie's supporters not to throw in the towel," Stein said. "We are here in the event that they feel like they don't have a place to go."
It wasn't the first time Stein had reached out to Sanders and his supporters. She wrote an open letter to him back in April, urging him to abandon his Democratic primary campaign to join forces with her on the Green Party ticket. "Can we explore a historic collaboration to keep building the revolution beyond the reach of corporate party clutches, where the movement can take root and flourish, in the 2016 election and beyond?" Stein asked.
But Sanders' new rhetoric of Democratic Party unity — not to mention his failure to return Stein's call — seem to suggest he's just not that into her. Even without a Stein-Sanders (or would it be Sanders-Stein?) ticket, the right vice presidential candidate could give the Green Party the potential to sway some Sanders supporters from declaring "I'm with Her" when they eventually stop "Feeling the Bern."
For her 2012 presidential bid, Stein chose Cheri Honkala to serve as her running mate and the anti-poverty activist has continued to be an active supporter in the four years since. But will Honkala also return to the Green Party ticket this year? If all goes as planned, Stein will be officially nominated as the Green Party's 2016 candidate in August. But while she may be a shoo-in for the nomination, there have been few clues as to who will join her on the Green Party ticket.
For now, Stein is open to suggestions. No, really. You can literally send Stein your vice presidential candidate suggestions via her official campaign website. Stein's only stipulation? That suggested candidates be "real people" who "embody our core Green values of grassroots democracy, social and economic justice, nonviolence, and ecological sustainability."
In an exclusive interview with the Progressive Brief, Stein campaign co-chair Gloria Mattera claimed two names popped up in supporters' suggestions most often. "The two names that are most frequently suggested by our supporters are Bernie Sanders and Michelle Alexander," she said.
Although Stein won't likely announce her vice presidential running mate until closer to the Green Party's nominating convention, her choice will likely reflect her campaign's recent efforts to drum up support among Sanders voter base.