An outspoken farmer and activist from Groton who has been a sharp critic of the New London State Pier wind-turbine project was nominated Wednesday by the Green Party of Connecticut to run against Democratic incumbent Joe Courtney, and his Republican challenger Mike France, for the 2nd Congressional District seat.
Kevin Blacker accepted the nomination after a 14-5 vote in his favor during a remote video meeting of the party that also included remarks from its candidate for Governor.
Blacker, 36, was the victor over party member Jeff Russell, but also said that he would not join the party as a statement of his autonomy.
“I would be willing to make sacrifices to run, but there’s one thing I’m not willing to sacrifice is my independence,” Blacker said before the vote. “If I am a member of the Green Party, if I’m a member of an organization that is accepting money in a way on my behalf, I would feel like that would be benefiting me as a member. What would be very important to me is that nobody could be able to say that I took anything from anybody and that money didn’t influence the things that I did or said.”
Cassandra Martineau – who moderated the vote and is the party’s candidate for Lt. Governor with Governor candidate Michelle L. Bicking – assured Blacker that “nobody would be able to accuse you of taking any money for personal use. All of this is tracked very closely,” by state election officials.
Martineau also said she believed that “a number of people might be concerned with you not being a member of the party.”
In a discussion of issues before the vote, Blacker – who described himself as a hay farmer who lives in Noank – said one of his priorities would be to protect farmland that is threatened by being sold and developed for housing.
Blacker also characterized the ongoing conversion of the State Pier in New London into an offshore wind-turbine assembly facility as an example of corporations taking advantage of government and residents.
The cost of the highly-debated project by Gateway Terminal, Ørsted and Eversource and backed by the state has grown from $93 million to $255 million.
It has also led to multiple investigations concerning gifts, a lack of oversight by the quasi-public Connecticut Port Authority and excessive spending by authority members on travel, dining and other items.
“That Pier is a tool to create wealth and benefit for a community,” Blacker said. “But all of that benefit is given to one or two or three major corporations.”
Blacker was arrested during a Port Authority meeting in 2020 when he refused to stop addressing the board with his concerns. Those charges were later dismissed.
“My first campaign priority would be honest government that acted in the interests of the people, that acted in the interest of what was best for the public, not what’s best for the special interests or the politically connected,” he said during Wednesday’s nomination meeting.
Blacker will be running against seven-term incumbent Courtney, a Democrat from Vernon, and Republican Mike France, a State Representative from Ledyard.
The 2nd District includes all of New London County, Tolland County, and Windham County, along with parts of Hartford, Middlesex, and New Haven counties.
The Connecticut Green Party had about 1,500 registered members in 2020, and its platform is to promote “democracy, social justice, ecology, and peace.”
Bicking, nominated to run for governor by the party in May, is a 45-year-old licensed medical social worker and former teacher who lives in Newington.
She briefly addressed the meeting Wednesday, saying her campaign theme and approach if elected is to create “room at the table” for all residents, “where everyone has a voice and a say in how the state is to be run and that everyone has equitable access to very basic amenities such as education, comprehensive health care, housing, food and love.”
She is also an advocate of improving mass-transit in the state, especially rail.
Bicking and Blacker said they intend to try to change the party’s traditional role as a “spoiler” that may largely draw votes away from major party candidates, but is not considered a valid challenger for victory.
“I think that often, the voice of a third or fourth party is heard but they are almost always relegated to the corner of being just a spoiler and never really having a chance,” Blacker said. “They should really be considered as contenders in the race.”