WCT: You received more than 10 percent of the vote in the 2006 gubernatorial election. Who do you see as your party's base of support? How do you expect to build on that momentum in this election? Is there any particular group or place where have you been most surprised to receive support?
RW: The real core base of support is what might be called the progressive movements in Illinois—the peace movement, the school reform movement, the movement towards budgetary reform, and certainly single payer healthcare. There was also a lot of people that felt disaffected, people who—if you broke down my numbers—might otherwise have voted Republican. The stereotype is that Green Party candidates just take way votes from Democrats. The reality is more complex.
Some of those who came out to support me were people who more typically would not vote had we not had a Green Party candidate in the race. My focus in 2010 is to build primarily on the progressive base. There's a lot of potential for people who reflexively vote for Democrats. If they're not put of f by the performance of that party at this juncture I don't know what will do it. The Democratic Party has had complete control since 2003 and yet what do progressives have to show for it?
WCT: As the third party candidate, do you feel like you can take more risks? What are the additional pressures of being the third party candidate?
RW: I do think that I can take more "risks" as far as speaking what I really believe. That's kind of what the Green Party is about. There are other third parties that are very dogmatic. The fact that we don't take corporate campaign money as a matter of policy means we're serious about representing the people and not these artificial constructs. These are the reasons I say things that are truthful. Take the legalization of marijuana. Does it make any sense for alcohol to be legal and for marijuana to be illegal? Alcohol tends to be associated more with violent conduct. It doesn't make sense to incarcerate people for crimes of this nature. It's an idiotic strain on our system so why isn't it legal? For whatever reason politicians of the other parties think, "Oh, you can't touch that." It's common sense public policy. I feel free to speak the truth.
The flip side of not taking corporate money is: how do you fund your campaign? Concomitant of that—so many of the media think that if you don't raise a million dollars you're not a serious candidate. One of the things I'm challenging is the notion that you can't be serious if you're not raising that kind of money. In 2006 I spent $45,000 to get 10.5 percent of the vote. Blagojevich spent $11 million or $12 million and [ Judy Baar ] Topinka spent $8 million or $9 million or something like that. We certainly get more bang for our buck. If I can raise enough money to be competitive and get my name out there, we have a shot.