After not fielding a candidate for statewide office in Maryland for two election cycles, the state's Green Party appears to be lining up behind a Baltimore pediatrician-turned-advocate for the state's open Senate seat.
Dr. Margaret Flowers, a Cedarcroft resident who left medicine in 2007 to advocate for a single-payer health care system, is so far unopposed for her party's nomination -- and is working to elbow her way into general election debates that will likely take place next year.
Like other third-party candidates, Flowers stands virtually no chance of winning the seat that will be left vacant in 2017 when Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski steps down. The last time the Greens ran a statewide candidate in Maryland -- in 2010 for governor and senator -- it captured about 1 percent of the vote.
The party will hold a convention to choose its nominee in July.
"We're going to run a serious campaign, and we're going to do the best that we can," said Flowers, 52, who has sought commitments from major party candidates that they will work to include her in debates next year. "A big part of the reason that people don't vote for us is that they don't know we exist."
Several candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination, including Rep. Chris Van Hollen of Montgomery County and Rep. Donna Edwards of Prince George's County. A handful of Republicans have filed for the office, including former candidate Richard J. Douglas, and several others are considering a run.
Like Edwards and Van Hollen, Flowers supports the recent Iran nuclear agreement negotiated by President Barack Obama and other world leaders, and she opposes the Pacific Rim trade deal the administration is pursuing. Flowers feels the 2010 health care law doesn't go far enough. Instead, she believes, Congress should create a single-payer system similar to those used by several European nations.
Flowers, who only recently registered as a Green Party voter (she was previously unaffiliated), received attention this month when she was arrested at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the U.S. bombing of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.