Political activist Ralph Nader announced last Sunday that he would again run for president. Unlike four years ago, Nader’s late start as an independent may hamper his visibility in the campaign, and some worry that non-Republican voters will dilute the Democrat vote and help elect Bush to a second term.
In 2000, Nader ran on the Green Party ticket and earned less than three percent of the national vote. Many Democrats vocally blamed him for “stealing” votes from Al Gore, who won the popular vote but lost the electoral college.
Since then, issues over finances and (of course) politics have caused some divisions between Nader and his former party. This past December, Nader announced he would not seek the Green Party presidential nomination in 2004, but on February 23 he announced his candidacy as an independent. This schism from a recognized party will give him more flexibility, but such a late start already puts him at a disadvantage in the polls.
As an independent candidate, Nader must go through each state’s elections office to get listed on its ballot. That’s 50 different states worth of red tape and required signatures. Oregon’s primary will be held May 18. The state Elections Division Web site (www.oregonvotes.org) currently lists Bush as the sole Republican candidate and Democratic candidates John Edwards, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich and Al Sharpton. A final list of candidates will be compiled by March 18. If Nader misses that deadline he may have to run as a write-in candidate.
Candidates in Oregon may be placed on the ballot in two ways: after nomination by the Secretary of State or by petition process. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury is directed by state law to include on the primary election ballot names of those candidates who are “generally advocated” or are “recognized in the national news media,” according to the elections Web site. In addition, candidates can petition to be included after gathering 1,000 signatures from registered voters in each congressional district (Oregon has five), with several other caveats.
In addition, the “Vote Nader” Web site states the goal of collecting 20,000 signatures in Oregon to put Nader on the ballot in November. Its Web site also includes a place for volunteers to register and to make campaign contributions. In his first week of official candidacy, Nader took a tour of several Texas cities to push forward his slate of ideas. He called for balancing the federal government’s budget and criticized the Bush administration’s decisions regarding Iraq. Nader also spoke at four colleges, was interviewed on national television, and to top it off, celebrated his 70th birthday on Friday.
Nader’s Web site outlines his stance on several major issues, including health care, education and the environment. He emphasizes the need for universal health care coverage, reform of the electoral college, crackdowns on corporate corruption and the removal of standardized testing in schools. For more information on the still-growing Ralph Nader campaign, check out www.votenader.org.