Todd Chretien (born 1969) is an American activist. He was the Green Party candidate for United States Senate in California in 2006. He ran with a slate of Green candidates dubbed "A million votes for peace," expressing an anti-war view and the hope of receiving one million votes in the general election (Chretien received 139,425 votes, or 1.8 percent of the vote). Chretien is a leading member of the International Socialist Organization.
Chretien grew up on a horse farm in Gray and New Gloucester, Maine with his mother, Eileen, his father, Mike, and his younger brother, Joel. After graduating from Gray-New Gloucester High School, he entered Middlebury College in 1988, but after a year, left to spend eight months teaching English in El Salvador and Nicaragua. He returned to school in 1991, entering Columbia University. He left Columbia before graduating, after having been suspended for a semester for involvement in the protest occupation of a campus building. In 1994 he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he graduated from San Francisco State University in 2003 with a B.A. in history. Chretien lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, Jessie Muldoon, an Oakland public school teacher, and their daughter Isabela.
In 1988, Chretien was elected as a delegate for Jesse Jackson to the Maine Democratic Party convention. Soon after entering Columbia, he became active in the movement to stop the first Gulf War, and joined the International Socialist Organization (ISO). As a student, he helped lead a successful campaign for need-blind admissions, and an unsuccessful one to prevent Columbia from replacing the Audubon Ballroom, where Malcolm X was assassinated, with a biomedical research center. As part of the latter campaign, Chretien was involved in the occupation of Columbia's Hamilton Hall, for which he was suspended along with another member of the ISO and two members of the Black Students Organization.
Bay Area activism
Since 1994, Chretien has worked as a writer and a full-time activist and organizer for the International Socialist Organization. He has been active in movements defending affirmative action, promoting global justice, and opposing war in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the lead rank and file organizer in the attempt to unionize the Cesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University for SEIU Local 790. In 2003, as a member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, he helped stop the execution of Kevin Cooper by the State of California in 2004 and worked unsuccessfully to stop the execution of Stan Tookie Williams in 2005. He organized a 2005 tour of the U.S. by antiwar British MP, George Galloway. That same year, he wrote San Francisco's Proposition I/College Not Combat and directed the campaign to collect 15,500 signatures in six weeks with an all-volunteer force to put it on the ballot. Prop I passed with 60 percent of the vote.
Green Party involvement
Chretien worked in 2000 as a full-time organizer for the Nader/LaDuke campaign as well as Medea Benjamin's campaign for Senate as a Nader Super Rally coordinator and state-wide student organizer. Since 2000, he has worked with local Green Party activists and campaigns, including organizing large student meetings for Peter Camejo's campaign for Governor of California in 2003 and volunteering for Matt Gonzalez's 2003 campaign for Mayor of San Francisco.
In July 2004 Chretien changed his registration from "Decline To State" to Green and helped gather signatures to put Renee Saucedo on the ballot for San Francisco Supervisor. He then served as the statewide field coordinator for the Nader/Camejo 2004 presidential campaign. In the spring of 2005, he volunteered for Aimee Allison's city council campaign in his hometown of Oakland.
In the June 6, 2006 Green Party senatorial primary, Chretien won 45 percent of the vote (10,240 votes) to defeat Kent Mesplay and Tian Harter. Chretien was endorsed by these Green Party candidates for statewide office: Peter Camejo (candidate for governor), Donna Warren (candidate for lieutenant governor), Mike Wyman (candidate for attorney general), Forrest Hill (CA Secretary of State candidate), Mehul Thakker (candidate for treasurer), and Larry Cafiero (candidate for insurance commissioner). However, Chretien failed to pass the 80-percent threshold needed for the San Francisco Green Party's endorsement. Nevertheless, 65 percent of San Francisco Green Party rank-and-file members voted for him in the primary election.
2004 election debate
Chretien criticized fellow Green Party members such as Medea Benjamin who supported the "Anybody But Bush" campaign in 2004. Benjamin had written, "...maybe it's time for the people who voted for Bush in 2000, the people who didn't vote at all in 2000, and yes, people like myself who voted for Ralph Nader in 2000, to admit our mistakes."  To which Chretien replied in an article in Counterpunch:
- Medea Benjamin... and many other liberal and progressive leaders tell us that a Kerry regime "would be less dangerous" than Bush. This may or may not be true... But, even IF Kerry is "less dangerous," he will be MORE capable of wreaking havoc on Iraq, Palestine, Venezuela, abortion, gay rights, civil rights and unions IF we sacrifice our political movement to getting behind him.... Tragically, rather than building on the great start we made in 2000... many of the very same people who helped that effort are trying to wreck it this time around [by] condoning, if not actually leading, a campaign to vilify [Ralph Nader and Peter Camejo] as "Republican dupes"... any movement that ever aims to win, must learn to stand up for itself precisely when it is darkest.
- 4 Columbia Students Ordered Suspended, New York Times, March 26, 1983.
- todd4senate.org/endorsers (broken link)
- see Green Party electoral database
- "Bush Can't Admit Mistakes, But We Can," Medea Benjamin, Common Dreams, October 11, 2004
- A Reply to Norman Solomon & Medea Benjamin, Tod Chretien, Counterpunch, July 26, 2004.
Articles by Todd Chretien
- List of articles by Chretien on Socialist Worker
- transcript: "San Francisco Flap" (Todd Chretien on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show)
- "Jim Crow Goes Fishing" (on immigration)
- "B-Team of Corporate America," International Socialist Review 49, September–October 2006. (on the Democratic Party).
- "Florida Comes to California." August 5, 2004
- "A Reply to Norman Solomon & Medea Benjamin." July 26, 2004
- "A Reply to Norman Solomon & Medea Benjamin." (alternate website at Counterpunch) July 26, 2004
Audio and Video Links
- SF Bay Area Independent Media Center's David Grace interviews Todd Chretien, May 21, 2006. (mp3)
- Nader / Camejo 2004 campaign kickoff rally in San Francisco, July 16, 2004
- mp3 recording of Chretien speech against Bush proposal to escalate troops in Iraq, San Francisco, January 27, 2007
- 2008 Post-Election Perspectives, speech at 2008 Northern California Socialist Conference.