Green party enters 18th race

DeWayne Bartels

There have been a lot questions swirling around the race for the 18th Congressional  seat.

Can a young man — State Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria) — win?

Can a Democrat woman — Colleen Callahan — win?

Now, we can add the question: Can a third-party candidate win?

North Peorian Sheldon Schafer, a member of the Green Party, will test that question.

But, Schafer, 59, thinks he already knows the answer.

“I’m not delusional,” Schafer said Friday, before the start of the Illinois Green Party state convention, in Peoria over the weekend.

“We know we’re a dark horse ... This is a building process. There’s always the possibility, though, this will catch fire.”

Schafer said what he is involved in is a grass-roots effort to build the party on the state level, and Peoria can not be left out.

Schafer said the goal during this building process is to see the Green Party recognized as a serious, viable political party.

“We’re a grass-roots movement, but a worldwide grass-roots movement,” Schafer said.

“This is not a flash in a pan. This is a chance to start something new.”

Schafer, during his campaign, said he plans to talk about the environment, social justice and economic issues.

But, he does not plan to do it with a $1 million media budget.

“We can’t win in that kind of contest,” Schafer said.

“Grass-roots democracy is not a fundraising contest.”

Schafer plans to depend on word-of-mouth advertising.

“I’ll be using the Internet,” he said. “The Internet is the old-fashioned word-of-mouth method for today.

“I’ve got a little name recognition. It won’t be easy. This campaign is a stepping stone. We have to let people know Green Party members are articulate. We are going to have to educate the public that we have positions.”