Greens Say Sierra Club Ignores Them; Party Complains of Democrat bias.(NATION)

Article excerpt

Byline: Valerie Richardson, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

DENVER - When Dave Chandler decided to run for Congress on the Green Party ticket, he figured that winning the Sierra Club's endorsement would be a no-brainer.

Not only is Mr. Chandler a card-carrying member of the club, he's also the chairman of its Jefferson County, Colo., chapter. So he was flabbergasted when the influential environmental group passed him over in favor of the Democratic candidate in Colorado's newly created 7th District, Mike Feeley.

Mr. Chandler's situation isn't unique. In Colorado and beyond, a deep rift has emerged between the Sierra Club and Green Party, whose candidates complain they're being systematically jilted in favor of Democratic foes - even when the Democrats can't match their records on the environment.

"What people are saying is, if you're a Green Party candidate running for office and you don't get the Sierra Club's endorsement, it doesn't mean you're not a good environmentalist," Mr. Chandler said. "It means you're not a good Democrat."

All this has Republicans, who have long accused the Sierra Club of acting as a shill for the Democratic Party, saying "I told you so."

"It's just another clear piece of evidence that the Sierra Club is a partisan arm of the Democratic Party," said Dick Wadhams, campaign manager for Sen. Wayne Allard, Colorado Republican. "It's bought and paid for by the Democratic Party."

Sierra Club officials strenuously deny that they automatically support Democrats. Susan LeFever, director of the club's Rocky Mountain chapter, said that local committees, not the national organization, decide which candidates will receive endorsements.

The committees consider a variety of factors, including a candidate's experience and "viability," or likelihood of success.

"We look at a lot of things, not just the candidates' positions on the issues," Miss LeFever said.

That's why, for example, the Colorado club has endorsed Rep. Mark Udall, a Democrat, over Republican challenger Sandy Hume, an officer in the club's Boulder County chapter.

"When Sandy Hume is running against Mark Udall in an area that votes heavily Democratic, then we have to look at that," Miss LeFever said. …