Peter Camejo 1939-2008

Extremely sad news: The Green Party of California reports that Peter Miguel Camejo — a three-time gubernatorial candidate and 2004 vice-presidential candidate under Ralph Nader — died this morning at his Folsom home after a long bout with lymphoma. He was 68.

The release said Camejo recently had returned home after his health had declined rapidly over the last few days because of the “aggressiveness of his cancer and strength of the drugs used to combat the disease,” according his family.

Camejo was the Green gubernatorial candidate in 2002, the 2003 recall election and 2006; earlier, he had run for president in 1976 on the Socialist Workers Party ticket, and earlier yet had been prominent in 1960s anti-war efforts at the University of California, Berkeley. Born in New York City, he spent much of his early childhood in his parents’ native Venezuela; he later would compete as a yachtsman for Venezuela at the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Camejo was the co-founder and former CEO of Progressive Asset Management, a financial investment firm that encourages socially responsible projects; he later founded another such firm, The Camejo Group.

I had the honor of speaking with Camejo many times over the years, and it was always a pleasure. I meet a lot of people in politics who sometimes are calculating, sometimes self-aggrandizing, sometimes in it for all the wrong reasons; this wasn’t Peter Camejo.

Camejo was a passionate and compassionate advocate of social justice for the poor, the disenfranchised, the uninsured, the immigrants and anyone else he thought was getting a raw deal; a policy wonk who could provide reams of facts off the top of his head to support his arguments; and a genuinely good, nice guy. He knew he wouldn’t win those elections; he gloried in getting his message out, trying to shape the debate however he could. Let’s hope he did. California is poorer for his loss.

Camejo is survived by his wife Morella; daughter Alexandra; son Victor; three brothers Antonio, Daniel and Danny; and three grandchildren Andrew, Daniel and Oliver. Arrangements and memorial services are pending.

UPDATE @ 9:42 P.M.: This from Nader:

“Peter was a friend, colleague and politically courageous champion of the downtrodden and mistreated of the entire Western Hemisphere. Everyone who met Peter, talked with Peter, worked with Peter, or argued with Peter, will miss the passing of a great American.”


“When his autobiography (with the working title Northstar) is published, we will all be able to get a vivid sense of the great measure of Peter Camejo as a sentinel force for civil rights and civil liberties, and expander of democracy. His lifework will inspire the political and economic future for a long time.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.