Arn Menconi tells the Real News he’s aiming to defeat his corporate-backed Democratic opponent by prioritizing the fight against climate change and income inequality
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN: I’m Jaisal Noor with the Real News Network. We’re here in Philadelphia on day two of the Democratic National Convention. We’re here with a Green Party Senate candidate from Colorado. Tell us your name and why you’re running for Senate from Colorado on the Green Party ticket. And you are on the ballot and you’ve been endorsed by Cornell West. ARN MENCONI: Yes, my name is Arn Menconi. I’m running for U.S. Senate in the state of Colorado. I was a two-term Eagle County Commissioner from 2001-2009. I ran a national charity for disadvantaged youth and I ran a small business. So I’ve done all three sectors of society. For-profit, non-profit, and government. But I’m sick and tired of endless wars, all right? I went out to Washington, D.C., met up and started training with Code Pink. Got arrested in a senate hearing with John Kerry to try to stop endless wars. That’s the number one reason I’m running. Number two is to stop global warming. Number three is the acceleration of the inequality gap and number four is racial injustice. The global corporate mafia, as Chris Hedges calls it, runs our government. This is a corporate totalitarian state and I want to run against my incumbent Michael Bennett who I campaigned for. NOOR: Who’s a Democrat. MENCONI: Who’s a Democrat. NOOR: And Colorado’s a swing state. MENCONI: Yes, and it only needs about 600,000 votes to win Colorado. This is very doable. NOOR: So talk about the issues with the incumbent. MENCONI: He takes all of his money from all of the usual suspects. 80% of his money is coming from outside of the state. He’s getting money from all of Wall Street. Lobbyists, he takes money from [Devito] which is a healthcare industry that was indicted for Medicaid fraud. He voted for fast tracks leading up to TPP. He won’t come out against it yet. He put his support the Iran deal the Friday before Labor Day. He supported the keystone pipeline. I was a democrat who Governor [Ridder] asked me to campaign for Michael Bennett. I know Michael Bennett. I’ve been in Washington for 20 years. These guys are sold out. They’re out of touch with the people of Colorado. NOOR: Now the argument, I’m sure you’ve countless times, isn’t Donald Trump worst. Wouldn’t the Republican be worst? If you take votes away from the Democrats aren’t you just going to just pave the way for a right-wing Republican to take control who’s not even going to address climate change. Who knows what his actual foreign policy would be. We could have more wars under Donald Trump than under Hillary Clinton. No one really knows. MENCONI: Well, this is the lesser of two evils argument, and as Jill Stein said, stop talking about the lesser of two evils and start talking about fighting for the greater good. It’s a four-way race, by the way, in Colorado. You have a Libertarian candidate, the Republican candidate is a county commissioner just like I was, and then you have Michael Bennett. So I think this is going to be very interesting who takes things away. I would like Michael Bennett to step out of the race and not be a spoiler for me to win. NOOR: And this could be potentially a huge year in Colorado come November because you have the single-payer healthcare option on the ballot which would be the first state to have something like that. It’s already one of the first states to legalize, fully legalize, marijuana. So there is potential for progressive change in Colorado. MENCONI: I mean people don’t really understand how interesting political is, Colorado. It’s no longer a–you can’t even call it a purple state because 1.5 people are registered unaffiliated, number one registration. Then 1.2 million are Republican. 1.1 million are democrat. In the unaffiliated, it grew by almost 25% since ’08 and 50% of the voters are under 40, right? You had 75% of the people vote for the legalization of marijuana. You pointed out Amendment 69, which Michael Bennett is not for, universal healthcare. And anti-fracking referendum looks like it’s going to be on the ballot, and a $12 an hour minimum wage looks like it’s going to be on the ballot. NOOR: Now what are you doing to appeal to the Bernie or Bust crowd right now because we talked to people in Cleveland in Philadelphia. There’s a lot of people even in the party, even delegates who are absolutely beyond frustration with how the party has–. MENCONI: Oh, I feel the frustration. I sat with his communication director in March of 2015 and said I’ll be your field guy in Colorado. I gave $100 back then and I’ve been preaching his message. This is what I’m hearing and what I’m thinking as what Chris Hedges said back in September of 2014, he is going to have to roll up into the Democratic Party. He cares about managing his seat with the Democrats in the senate. But he raised 250 million dollars of individuals money in order to create a political campaign. A political campaign is not a blue ribbon commission, not a process, it has to start now and happen before November 8. NOOR: And some people have criticized Bernie Sanders for not continuing his campaign and focusing on downticket candidates. MENCONI: I’m definitely one of those people. I mean look, Bernie has stood on the shoulders of Occupy Wall Street. He stood on the shoulders of Black Lives Matters. I’ve been in six Black Lives Matters protest–. NOOR: He was silent on the police killings that happened right before he was–. MENCONI: He’s been silent on what’s going on in foreign wars. He hasn’t spoken out against the drone attacks. He was historic in what he said about the occupation of Palestine. That was brilliant when he did that. But let’s face it folk, I mean these people are trying to figure out how they can manage the power and they’re trying to figure out what they can still maintain. We have to do a revolution because of the global warming. I have a ten and eleven-year-old. What am I supposed to tell them 20 years from now about this election? I grew up on the south side of Chicago in 1968 and those guys were beaten up by the daily machine because of war. Now the war is endless. Now the war is not taking you and me into it. What they’re doing is taking our budget and they’re spending it all on endless wars. NOOR: All right. Thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. MENCONI: Peace. NOOR: Thank you for joining us at the Real News Network.