Jill Stein, presumptive nominee of the Green Party, is probably the only candidate on the campaign trail who spends an hour a day cooking her own organic meals — and who was, not too long ago, the lead singer of a folksy rock band. But her difference does not end there. When Dr. Stein, a former physician, is introduced on the trail as “Jill Stein for president,” she is also very likely the only candidate to be asked, “For president of what?” That’s what Keith Brockenberry, a cook, wanted to know at a meet-and-greet in Roxbury last week. After one of Dr. Stein’s supporters clarified, “for president of the United States,” Mr. Brockenberry seemed both taken aback and delighted. “Get out of here!” he blurted out. “I had no idea.”
What Dr. Stein lacks in name recognition, however, she is trying to make up for these days in high-energy organization and low-cost social media outreach. When she officially accepts the nomination at the Green Party’s convention this weekend in Baltimore, she will be the party’s first candidate to have qualified for federal matching funds — a milestone for this 11-year-old alternative party and potentially a major boost for a campaign that does not accept corporate donations.
The Green Party of the United States expects to be on the ballot in at least 45 states and to spend about $1 million on its campaign. At the moment, it has secured ballot access, an organizational test in itself, in 21 states, including the battlegrounds of Colorado, Florida, Michigan and Ohio, where the major party candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney, who are raising tens of millions of dollars every month, are locked in a tight race. While Dr. Stein barely registers a blip in national polling, experts point to Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee in 2000, who was seen by many Democrats as siphoning just enough votes from Al Gore in one state, Florida, to tip the election toward George W. Bush, a Republican. Nationally, Mr. Nader had captured only 3 percent of the vote.