HARRISBURG, Pa. - Let the record reflect that the revolution began last winter when Brian Laverty, a borough councilman in Blossburg, Pa., announced he was leaving the Democrats to become the state's first elected official from the Green Party.
''I had no idea that I was making history at the time, but it's a thrill,'' said Laverty, 47, an investment adviser who specializes in securities of eco-friendly companies. He is running for reelection.
Inspired by Ralph Nader's 2000 presidential campaign, the Green Party is on the rise in Pennsylvania. It has won state recognition as an official party and is fielding 30 candidates in local elections this November for offices ranging from school board to mayor. The Greens are drawing new support from many liberal Democrats who think their party has drifted rightward.
''I like the grass-roots aspect of a third party challenging the status quo,'' Laverty said.
To him, ''corporate corruption'' rules national politics, and the only difference between Republicans and Democrats is the names of their campaign donors - and sometimes not even that.
New Jersey law does not recognize the Greens, but party activists there are running this fall as independents for governor, a pair of state legislative seats, the Board of Freeholders in Atlantic County, and the Princeton Township Council.
Similar political forces are driving interest in the Greens east of the Delaware. ''People really are looking for something different,'' said Joe Fortunato, a Montclair, N.J., lawyer and chairman of the Green Party of New Jersey. ''They are pretty disgusted with the grip corporate money has on the two majority parties.''
In Pennsylvania, community activist Diane White is running for mayor of Harrisburg as a Green. Lawyer Richard Ash is the Green candidate for district attorney in Philadelphia, pledging a moratorium on the death penalty, to end the trials of juveniles as adults, and to crack down on police misconduct. And Green Doug McConatha, a psychology professor, is campaigning for mayor of West Chester.
The flowering of the Green Party in Pennsylvania is notable for a conservative state that traditionally has not had deep, long-lasting, third-party movements. As of April, the state reported only 2,591 people out of 7.6 million registered voters enrolled as Greens.
The established parties often resist the newcomers. For instance, Philadelphia Republicans are suing to disqualify Ash from the ballot.
But at least, for the first time, Pennsylvania voters can register Green if they choose. That's because Nader won 103,392 votes last November, more than 2 percent of the highest vote-getter's statewide total, and in more than 10 counties, meeting the state's legal threshold for a political party. Other minor parties that once had official status - the antiabortion Constitution Party, the Libertarians, and the Reform Party - failed to qualify and were dropped from the rolls.
The modern high point for a third party in Pennsylvania: 13 percent of the vote, by Peg Luksik, the Constitution Party's 1994 nominee for governor.
Parties must requalify during every major general election.
''We had a window open, and we're going to grow from there,'' said Dan Kinney, Pennsylvania coordinator for the Green Party.
Last year, seven Greens ran for the Pennsylvania Legislature and state row offices as independents. All lost.
So far the only three Greens in office switched to the party, like Laverty. This fall will mark the first true test of the party's appeal.
Voters in New Jersey who sympathize with the Green Party cannot register that way because of a strict state law that says that in order to be an official political party, a group must win at least 10 percent of all the votes cast for state Assembly seats. Only the Democratic and Republican parties qualify. Last year, the Greens and four other alternative parties filed suit against the voter-registration law, saying that it unconstitutionally restricts people's right to join the political party of their choice.
A Superior Court judge in Trenton agreed, but the state attorney general's office appealed. The case is pending.
''The system is stacked against us,'' said Fortunato, the New Jersey chairman, ''but we're going to keep plugging along. It may take us a long time, but we're not going to quit.''
While the Greens are most closely identified with environmental issues, the party's platform also stresses respect for diversity and nonviolence and decentralized political decision-making.
Platforms aside, most people attracted to the Greens seem to share a basic conviction that voters deserve more choices.
That's why White, a youth counselor, got into the race as the Green challenger to Harrisburg's mayor, Stephen Reed, who was running unopposed for a sixth term, holding both the Democratic and GOP nominations.
''I don't like being taken for granted,'' White, 47, said. ''People need a choice.''
In Blossburg, population 1,500, Laverty is seen as a sure bet to win reelection. Mayor John Backman, a Republican, said: ''He'd better win. He's a good man.''
Laverty said: ''People are very open-minded here. They are more interested in what you can do in office than in party labels.''
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company