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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Blacker to run for Congress on Green Party ballot line

    Activist Kevin Blacker asks a question of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski, during a press conference to denounce costs of the Connecticut State Pier project Thursday, August 25, 2022 in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    Kevin Blacker, the outspoken critic of the Connecticut Port Authority’s State Pier Project, has been tapped by the Green Party as its candidate for the 2nd Congressional District race.

    On Wednesday, the New London Greens, Windham Green Town Committee and Shoreline Green Party endorsed Blacker, a political outsider and activist, over Jeff Russell, a longtime Green Party member who has run for federal office including Democrat Chris Murphy’s U.S. Senate seat.

    Blacker said he saw an opportunity in running to advance his effort to oppose what he says is the corrupt State Pier project, while he said the Green Party saw an opportunity to advance its own agenda by nominating a high-profile, firebrand media presence to bring momentum to its platform, with priorities including social justice, economic inequality and protecting the environment.

    “They saw the potential to help me, and I saw the potential to help them,” Blacker said. “They saw they could offer this ballot line to me and it would be a way for me to elevate my fight and the work I’ve been doing, and I have the ability to attract press attention that I can share with them.”

    Blacker will show up on the Green Party’s ballot line in a race that features incumbent U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, and state Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard. He criticized Courtney’s support for the State Pier project, saying the congressman should use his position to slow it.

    “Joe Courtney is almost universally respected. When he speaks, people listen. He stood by silently and let this happen,” Blacker said. “He is probably the person most responsible for filling in the 7.4 acres of the estuary there with the WRDA Act. That was his work and his jockeying that got the federal channel deauthorized. He just took down the protection, and that water between the piers is what made the facility so versatile.”

    Blacker is referring to the 2020 Water Resources Redevelopment Act, which deauthorized “a limited portion of the New London federal channel to support the harbor development plan for State Pier approved by the State of Connecticut in February,” according to a news release from Courtney’s office.

    “In light of the long-running corruption, the long-running bad judgment, the cost overruns, the federal investigation, the Attorney General investigation, the Contracting Standards Board investigation, if he wasn’t partisan, if he cared about the public more than he cared about his party, he would’ve spoken up publicly,” Blacker added.

    Despite his stated disdain for the political class, Blacker said he accepted the local Green Party leadership’s advances so as to more directly confront the power structure he has railed against.

    “It’s not something I ever would’ve sought out. I’d outright say it’s not something I would want to do. But that won’t stop me from doing it,” Blacker said of his run for office. “The Green Party approached me, Frida Berrigan, Mirna Martinez and Ronna Stuller … A ballot line, it’s a really big deal. It’s a way to be part of the conversation that nobody can ignore you. I’ve been regularly ignored.”

    Blacker said he will also be running on his opposition to money in politics.

    “What I’m going to try and do is use my actions to show what politics could be if you took the money out of it,” he said. “I think that politicians spend so much of their time trying to chase down donations and money and then appease all these donors, it makes it so much more complicated.”

    New London Green Party Chairwoman Ronna Stuller said she and other party leaders backed Blacker. Anyone in the Green Party who lives in the 2nd Congressional District and attended Wednesday night’s virtual caucus was able to vote on the nomination.

    “A lot of people look at votes for minor parties as protest votes especially in national elections, but … I think we try to be a little more than just a protest,” Stuller said. “We want people to vote for a transformation of what politics looks like.”

    Blacker said he will aim to gain at least 1% of the vote which is needed to maintain the Green Party candidate ballot line for the next election.

    s.spinella@theday.com

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