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California and the West

Green Party Senate Candidate Arrested

Politics: Medea Benjamin is cited after disrupting a rally for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who was wrapping up her campaign, as was Rep. Tom Campbell.


SAN FRANCISCO — Medea Benjamin, the Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, complained frequently during the campaign that her candidacy has not received the attention it deserved.

She finally got noticed Monday night, but maybe not in the way she intended. After disrupting a Democratic campaign rally featuring incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Gov. Gray Davis, she was kicked out of the auditorium and handcuffed by San Francisco police.

The incident began after Benjamin and several of her Green Party workers tried to attract Feinstein's attention at the rally, which drew about 150 sign-waving celebrants to the Delancey Street drug treatment foundation.

Several men surrounded the demonstrators and hustled them out a side door into the arms of police, who at times had to carry the candidate when she went limp.

Benjamin was taken with two other Green Party workers to a police van and placed in handcuffs. She was cited for disrupting an assembly and trespassing and then released, said Patrolman Steven Ratto.

The rally capped a daylong tour of the state for Feinstein and Davis as she wrapped up the final day of the campaign. She began the day in Los Angeles, flew to Sacramento for a noon rally with local Democratic candidates, then went on to San Francisco.

"The best thing we can do to preserve the economy is to pay down the $3.6-trillion debt," said Feinstein. Asked who would do that, the crowd shouted, "Al Gore!"

Republican challenger Tom Campbell spent Monday returning, after a fashion, to the classroom. On leave from his job as a law professor at Stanford University, he spoke to a politics class at Cypress College in Orange County and to a group of law students in San Diego.

In Orange County, Campbell sounded almost as much a professor as he did the Republican nominee for senator. "I'm a teacher," said the candidate, who has brought his campaign to dozens of college campuses. "This is what I do. This is what I love."

At San Diego's California Western School of Law, Campbell joked that after the election, in which polls show him badly trailing Feinstein, he will be free to return to grading papers full time.

Speaking to three dozen students assembled in a lecture hall, Campbell said he chose a theme that fit his dual careers of professor and politician: the clash between law and politics, in which law almost inevitably loses.

Professor-like, he took questions from the students. "Sort of like office hours," he said.


Times staff writers Jeff Gottlieb and Tony Perry contributed to this story.

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