Several weeks before we know if Nader is on Oregon ballot
Too close to call. Gutless Greens wimp out. Democrats are fascist pigs. No more votes for piggies.
Sunday, June 27, 2004
Nader draws crowd, but ballot status still unclear
Hundreds gather to try to put the independent presidential hopeful on Oregon's ballot, but the count will take weeks
JAMES MAYER and JEFF MAPES
Ralph Nader attracted more than 1,100 people from all colors of the political spectrum to a sweltering Portland high school auditorium Saturday night.
But it remained unclear whether it would be enough to put the independent presidential candidate on the Oregon ballot in November.
Nader, 70, needed the signatures of at least 1,000 registered voters. Elections officials collected 943 signature sheets, but several contained more than one signature.
"The most I could say, it's going to be close, up against the wire," said Kristen Zubel, a Nader campaign volunteer.
The signatures must be verified by the counties, and an official result will not be known for several weeks.
The assembly also nominated Green Party activist Peter Camejo for vice president.
The air in the Benson High School auditorium was thick with street-level politics, as much a fight among Democrats and Republicans as an opportunity for independents to nominate Nader.
Conservative groups with strong Republican ties urged their members to attend the convention to help get Nader on the ballot, while Democrats asked their members to show up, and not sign the petition, in hopes of thwarting the Nader effort.
The counting began about 5 p.m. At 6:05 p.m., after election officials estimated the hall held more than 1,000 people, the doors were shut and Nader was nominated by several boisterous voice votes.
With formalities concluded, Nader came out firing, blasting Democrats in particular.
"Shame on them," Nader said. "You've got to be the most stalwart voters in the city to come out like this in the face of such sabotage."
The Democrats, he said, were "close to a dictatorial strategy that will destroy them."
Moses Ross, an official with the Multnomah County Democrats, estimated there could be as many as 100 Democrats in the room. If it throws off the count, "it will accomplish our goal," he said.
For many liberals, the defeat of President Bush is paramount.
"This is probably the most important presidential election in my lifetime," said Regna Merritt, an environmental activist who works with the Oregon Natural Resources Council.
Presidential election calculus explains why all sides view Nader's presence on the ballot in Oregon as critical. If he qualifies, he could be a major factor in whether Kerry or Bush wins the seven electoral votes of this swing state in November. In the 2000 election, Nader got 5 percent of the vote in a state where Democrat Al Gore won by 6,765 votes, less than one-half of 1 percent of the total vote.
The Nader campaign welcomed the Republican voters, and that outraged some progressive leaders and Democrats, who called on Nader to cancel the event.
"For Ralph to abandon his principles and everything he's worked for all his life to join forces with the Republicans is appalling," said Laura Bridges of the state National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League.
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., wrote Nader asking him to cancel the convention "until you can assure Oregonians that only true Nader supporters are participating in your ballot qualifying efforts."
Nader took aim at Wyden. "He's in cahoots with the corporate wing in Washington, D.C.," he said.
Greg Kafoury, Nader's chief adviser in Oregon, said Nader has vigorously courted "classical conservatives," but the campaign had nothing to do with the pro-Bush efforts to boost his ballot chances. He added that Republican interlopers run the risk of being converted to Nader's cause.
In a setback to his national campaign, Nader failed to gain the endorsement of Green Party on Saturday. Delegates to the party's presidential convention in Milwaukee voted to nominate David Cobb, a Texas lawyer.
Nader, who ran as a Green in 1996 and 2000, was not a candidate for the party's nomination this year. Instead, he hoped to persuade the party to back him instead of mounting its own presidential candidate.
James Mayer: 503-294-4109; firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeff Mapes: 503-221-8209; email@example.com
add a comment on this article
add a comment on this article