GOP-Funded Green Candidate: “I Bring Charisma, Depth” to PA Sen Race

The Green Party’s Senate candidate in Pennsylvania doesn’t mind that his candidacy is completely paid for by Republicans. In fact, he says he was the one who approached them for donations.

In an interview yesterday, the Green candidate Carl Romenelli didn’t flinch when I noted his campaign was funded entirely by GOP money. “It’s quite possible,” he said. “We received a lot of money from Republicans.” Romanelli made the ballot, you’ll remember, due to a voter signature drive funded by $66,000 from 20 conservative donors. The private company he hired was able to roust up over 90,000 signatures despite there being fewer than 20,000 registered Greens in Pennsylvania.

But Romanelli disputed the notion that he was being used by supporters of incumbent Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in order to draw votes away from their Democratic challenger, Bob Casey. He said it showed that there was “enough mutual respect” between himself and his donors to have “a free and open debate.”

“I respect the fact that people on the complete opposite side of an issue could respect my point of view,” he told me. As Justin wrote yesterday, that respect came from an unlikely pool of GOP lobbyists and extremely wealthy donors.The money flowed, he said, in response to a funds drive he initiated. He said he made a “public plea” and asked “Democrats and Republicans alike for help.”

“It was some of the Republican folks who came forward to provide donors. God bless them for that. Without them I could not have been able to put together the organization necessary to qualify.”

Romanelli, who said he has “friends all over the country” and “called in every last favor” with them, wouldn’t tell me who those friends are. When I pressed him to name those he approached for the money, he refused because he didn’t want to give “the Casey people… more targets to punish.” Santorum’s campaign has admitted to encouraging supporters to donate to Romenelli’s effort.

Though he understood why people would be wondering, “How the hell did this flaming left-winger pull this off?” — he dismissed the importance of the money’s source. “It’s not like my position on the issues have changed.”

Romanelli was a family court officer until he retired in 2001 — so, he said, he could spend the next three years raising money for a 2004 bid to unseat Sen. Arlen Specter. That effort, he said, “wasn’t feasible,” so he tried again this time around.

He says he entered because he’s the only anti-war, pro-choice, pro-universal-health-care candidate. “I bring a real charisma and a real depth of substance to the debate,” he told me. “I’m playing to win.” He continued:

I may not be successful, but at least when these dark days are reviewed by history, I’ll be proud to be among those who stood up against the injustice that is before our very eyes — as opposed to those who complicitly sat back and let it all happen.

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