The conventions are pau and the race for the American presidency is now in full swing.

Hawaii voters unsatisfied with either the Democratic Party ticket (Barack Obama and Joe Biden) or the Republican Party ticket (Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan) have a third and fourth option, however.

The Libertarian Party is fielding Gary Johnson and running mate James Gray while the Green Party has Jill Stein and running mate Cheri Honkala. (More on them later.)

National experts say Hawaii is sure to go for its native son this year, perhaps with the more than 70 percent of the vote he won here in 2008.

But it’s worth noting that the presidential ballot four years ago also featured the nominees of the Green, Libertarian, Constitution and Independent parties, which picked up a combined 1.5 percent of the vote.

The state has shown a growing interest in third party candidates such as Dennis Kucinich, who did well against John Kerry in the 2004 Democratic caucus, and Ralph Nader, who as a Green candidate took 5.8 percent of the general election vote in 2000.

Ron Paul finished third behind Romney and Rick Santorum in this year’s Hawaii GOP caucus but bested Romney on the Big Island and nearly won Maui.

Paul is a Republican with a strong independent streak, having previously run for president as a Libertarian. Another third-party candidate, Ross Perot, earned nearly 14 percent of the Hawaii vote in 1992 and 7.4 percent in 1996.

Gary Who?

Gary Johnson is a former governor of New Mexico who ran for president as a Republican this year, even appearing in an early televised debate. But he had trouble raising money and attracting media attention, and he dropped out.

Libertarians believe, according to the party’s website, “in the American heritage of liberty, enterprise, and personal responsibility. … The Libertarian Party is for all who don’t want to push other people around and don’t want to be pushed around themselves.”

A press release from Hawaii’s Libertarian Party described Johnson as follows:

Known as one of the most fiscally responsible governors during his time in office candidate Johnson is also a supporter of equality in marriage licensing for same sex couples, a women’s right to choose an abortion, an end to the senseless war in Afghanistan, a balanced budget, and an end to the so-called war on drugs starting with the legalization of marijuana.

Johnson’s running mate, James Gray, is a retired trial court judge of the Orange County (California) Superior Court. The party describes Gray as “a national figure when he became one of the first sitting judges to openly question our nation’s drug war policies.”

Tracy Ryan, an officer with the local Libertarian party, told Civil Beat that both candidates have visited Hawaii in recent years. Johnson — “a real outdoorsman,” said Ryan — has competed in the Ironman Triathlon.

Ryan said Libertarians established their party here in the early 1970s. Party members were able to gather enough signatures in 1998, 2000 and 2002 to qualify for every election cycle from 2004 through 2012 (and will have to do so again to be on future ballots).

At the time, Libertarians were required to collect signatures equal to 1 percent of registered voters. The law was later changed to one-tenth of 1 percent of registered voters.

“It went from about 7,000 to 700 signatures,” said Ryan. “A big deal!”

Gary Johnson has had difficulty getting one some state ballots, where the Republican Party worries that Ron Paul supporters might flock to Johnson over Mitt Romney. Ryan doubts that will be the case here, given local GOP opposition to same-sex marriage and drug decriminalization.

Locally, one Libertarian candidate — Frederick Fogel — is on the general election ballot. He faces Democrat Richard Onishi and Republican Marlene Hapai in a state House race on the Big Island.

Jill Who?

Jill Stein is a “mother, physician, longtime teacher of internal medicine, and pioneering environmental-health advocate,” according to her biography. Excerpt:

She played a key role in the effort to get the Massachusetts fish advisories updated to better protect women and children from mercury contamination, which can contribute to learning disabilities and attention deficits in children. She also helped lead the successful campaign to clean up the “Filthy Five” coal plants in Massachusetts, an effort that resulted in getting coal plant regulations signed into law that were the most protective around at that time.

Stein survived a nomination challenge this summer from comedian Roseanne Barr — not making that up — who was rumored for a time to also be Stein’s running mate.

She’s not. Stein’s running mate is Cheri Honkala who, according to her bio, “is nationally and internationally respected for her anti-poverty work.”

(In 2011, Barr had a short-lived reality show called “Roseanne’s Nuts,” which was filmed on her Big Island macadamia nut farm. She is today a presidential candidate for the Peace and Freedom Party, which is not on Hawaii’s ballot.)

The Green Party platform focuses on, among many things, political reform, “peace and disarmament,” fair housing, environmental justice, an international climate treaty, ending poverty and creating a single-payer health care. It includes a plank on justice for Native Hawaiians.

Locally, the Hawaii Green Party stands for four things, according to Big Island farmer Bob Jacobson: ecological wisdom, social and economic justice, nonviolence and grassroots democracy. The party’s local origins date to the early 1990s.

Jacobson is the party’s secretary while his wife, Julie, is treasurer. Both are former Hawaii County Council members.

Bob Jacobson says the party is excited to have two Greens running in local elections: Kelly Greenwell against Big Island state Sen. Malama Solomon, and Keiko Bonk, who is challenging House Speaker Calvin Say for his Oahu seat.

“Given some of the decisions that Malama Solomon made, like with geothermal and the Public Land Development Corporation, we are really glad there are choices for that district,” said Bob Jacobson.

Bonk is also running on a pro-environment, pro-open-government platform.

The Jacobsons aren’t interested in running for office again, however.

“We are tea farmers,” he said. “It’s our turn to work with others and train them.”

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