Playing Enviro-Politics

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DENVER: Third parties come and go, but the Green Party shows no signs of fading away. Environmentalists are fielding 120 candidates in 20 states and stand to be spoilers in two New Mexico congressional races. In Albuquerque the Greens' Bob Anderson pulled enough votes from Democrat Phil Maloof in a June special election to let Republican Heather Wilson win the seat. Now there's a rematch, and Anderson may ruin the Democrats' chances again -- causing Maloof to adopt much of the Greens' platform and House minority leader Richard Gephardt to ask Anderson to drop out, a plea that was rejected.

Meanwhile, in the Third District, Tom Udall, son of Stewart Udall, appears to be winning back a seat lost to the GOP'S Bill Redmond in 1997's special election. But the Greens' Carol Miller, whose showing helped Redmond last time, could again damage the Dems. This prospect does not seem to alarm the Greens much. "Third parties tend to exist only to nudge other candidates along," says Dean Myerson, the Greens' national secretary. "They don't take themselves seriously. But we do. We're grassroots."