Nader now on ballot in 10 states
Supporters of Ralph Nader delivered petitions with 1,460 voter signatures to the state Division of Elections Tuesday, well over the 800 needed to get the independent candidate on the presidential ballot in New Jersey.
July 21, 2004
At a news conference before handing in the petitions, they repeatedly mocked the travails of the state Democratic Party, which has seen two fund-raisers charged with crimes this month, and challenged Democrats not to fight Nader's ballot entry.
"The Democratic Party in New Jersey has enough problems with inherent crime and apparent racketeering within its organization without adding dirty tricks against Ralph Nader to its list," said Bruce Afran, a lawyer for Nader's campaign.
Democrats in New Jersey won't fight Nader's addition to the ballot. Instead, state Democratic Party spokesman Adam Green said John Kerry and John Edwards will win the state handily, and he contends a vote for Nader helps President Bush.
"In New Jersey, the Kerry-Edwards ticket will win and win big, so the Nader factor will really not be a decisive factor in our state," Green said.
"But New Jersey voters still should not vote for Nader because it rewards him for running a vanity campaign that could actually help George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in states with razor-thin margins like Florida," Green said.
Nader is now on the ballot in 10 states. Republicans have helped the Nader campaign gather names in some states.
In New Jersey, volunteers - including Greens, Democrats, Republicans and independents - gathered signatures at public places around the state, including 52 signed outside a recent Republican Party fund-raising event in Edison. ADVERTISEMENT - CLICK TO ENLARGE OR VISIT WEBSITE
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Nader's backers say the longtime consumer advocate has integrity, which former Princeton councilman and four-time, third-party House candidate Carl Mayer says is important given the "recent raft of almost daily scandals" in state politics.
Democratic Party fund-raiser David D'Amiano was indicted this month for allegedly demanding political donations and cash to help preserve a Piscataway farm. One of the party's top donors, Charles Kushner, was charged with obstructing an investigation.
"There have been too many indictments, convictions, scandals, criminal acts, elected officials going to jail. No state should have to endure this. The citizenry shouldn't have to endure this," Mayer said.
Former Assemblyman Matthew Ahearn of Fair Lawn said Nader can speak against a campaign finance system he says exists at the state and federal levels where wealthy corporate donors make large contributions that buy government influence.
"A lawful system of campaign contributions taken advantage of by elected officials has made legalized corruption an art form in this state," Ahearn said. "Mr. Nader is the type of politician who can stand against that."
In the 2000 presidential election, Nader received 94,554 votes in New Jersey, 3 percent of those cast. In 1996, Nader got 32,465 votes, 1 percent. Both those times, Nader was the Green Party candidate.
In a Quinnipiac University poll in June, Nader drew 7 percent in New Jersey in a three-way race led by Kerry over Bush, 46 percent to 40 percent. He was backed by 4 percent of Republicans, 5 percent of Democrats and 11 percent of independents polled.
Third-party candidates traditionally don't seriously challenge the two major political parties in New Jersey. Among the most successful has been Reform Party candidate Ross Perot, who got almost 16 percent in the 1992 presidential race.
Perot's former New Jersey press secretary, Beverly Kidder, now supports Nader.
"He is giving me a reason to vote because if he were not running, I would not be voting. I would be like that almost 50 percent of the population that just walks with their feet and stays home and become a refugee from politics," Kidder said.
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