ABH: Green Vying for Coverdell's Seat

Hugh Esco gpga-news@greens.org
Tue, 03 Oct 2000 16:55:32 -0400

Thank you Will Jackson of Athens for passing this on.
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by: Shana Gallentine

Lanky and soft-spoken, Athens native Jeff Gates doesn't look like the kind 
of guy hoping to turn Washington, D.C., on its head.

But when asked about the upcoming election on Nov. 7, Gates leans forward 
in his chair, quickly spouting statistics on the unequal distribution of 
wealth in the United States and the need for drastic change in American 

As a Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Sen. 
Paul Coverdell's death in July, Gates says it's up to him to provide 
Georgia voters with an alternative to Democrats and Republicans -- parties 
he feels have become indistinguishably centrist.

''This is not a third-party run. This is an attempt to restore a second 
party,'' Gates said during an interview last week.

The race will likely be an uphill battle for Gates and his party. Former 
Gov. Zell Miller and former U.S. Sen. Mack Mattingly are both vying for the 
seat, not to mention five other candidates running outside the two major 

But Gates, 54, said he's confident voters who hear his key platform issues 
-- redistributing capital to low-income people, reforming campaign spending 
and protecting the environment -- will support him.

''(Voters) have got a choice. The question is, do they know they have that 
choice?'' he said.

Though his run for Senate is perhaps his most ambitious endeavor, Gates has 
kept busy since he left Athens in the 1960s.

Son of the late Jim Gates, former dean of the University of Georgia's 
business school, Gates graduated from Athens High School in 1964 as the 
president of his class.

He attended the University of Virginia, served in Vietnam, went to law 
school and worked in a private practice before acting as counsel to the 
U.S. Senate Finance Committee in the 1980s.

He's currently president of the Shared Capitalism Institute, a think tank 
based in Atlanta and Cambridge, Mass., that has counseled more than 30 
nations on economic reform and ''reduces complex issues into chewing-gum 
English,'' Gates said.

His two books outlining the principle of shared capitalism -- ''The 
Ownership Solution'' and ''Democracy at Risk'' -- have received acclaim 
from national political figures such as Jack Kemp, Bill Bradley, Coretta 
Scott King and Ralph Nader, a personal friend of Gates.

Gates said his interest in the Green Party stems from his belief that 
Republicans and Democrats are ineffective parties that continue to 
''believe money is smarter than people.''

''I know Al Gore and Joe Lieberman,'' he said of the Democratic 
presidential and vice presidential candidates. ''They got to where they are 
because they learned to say 'yes' to everything. The only thing worse than 
Gore is Bush.''

Not surprisingly, Gates supports Nader and his running mate, Winona LaDuke, 
on the Green Party presidential ticket.

He maintains that his principle of shared capitalism doesn't constitute 
communism -- rather, it distributes capitalism across socio-economic 
boundaries. He cited employee stock ownership plans -- which he championed 
in the 1980s -- as a prime example of shared capitalism.

Currently living in Atlanta, Gates said he doesn't return to Athens very 
often, though he returned to town last week for a Green Party benefit.

''I remember what all of those buildings used to be,'' he said with a 
smile, pointing to a row of businesses on Broad Street. ''Now it's all a 
giant bar.''

Though Gates talked briefly about his high school fraternity and recalled 
listening to his father's business lectures as a child, he was quick to 
turn the conversation back to politics.

He acknowledges that both opponents and allies outside the Green Party 
often don't know what to make of him due to his diverse political background.

''It's confusing because they know I'm the guy who's written speech 
material for both Jesse Helms and Jesse Jackson,'' Gates chuckled. ''What 
do you do with that?''

  Athens-Clarke County government reporter Shana Gallentine can be reached 
at sgallentine@onlineathens.com or (706) 208-2230.

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