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Ballot bid for Nader has GOP signatures

"My goal is to help President Bush win the election, and this is a small part I can play to help him win Arkansas," Lamoureux of Russellville said. "Having Ralph Nader on the ballot will improve President Bush's chances of winning Arkansas."
State House Republican leader Michael Lamoureux said Thursday that he didn't pretend to support Ralph Nader when he asked about 50 friends and relatives to sign a petition to get Nader's name on the presidential ballot in Arkansas.

"My goal is to help President Bush win the election, and this is a small part I can play to help him win Arkansas," Lamoureux of Russellville said. "Having Ralph Nader on the ballot will improve President Bush's chances of winning Arkansas."

Lamoureux said he's hoping Nader's presence will siphon votes from Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

The state Democratic Party said Lamoureux isn't the only Republican who is helping Nader.

According to research that state Democrats released Thursday, 24 Republican activists signed a petition to place Nader's name on the ballot for president in Arkansas.

Republicans who signed the petition for the widely known consumer and environmental activist include former state Sen. Doyle Webb of Benton, who is chief of staff to Lt. Gov. Win Rockefeller. Rockefeller is the state GOP chairman.

The Democrats also found five signatures of people they said are paid staff members of the state Republican Party.

"The fact that so many Republicans, ranging from officeholders and candidates to paid staff, signed these petitions shows the desperation of the state Republican Party," state Democratic Party Chairman Ron Oliver said in a statement. "They know that Arkansas is a battleground state, and their transparent efforts to help Ralph Nader show how worried they are about Bush's prospects in the election."

Republican spokesmen lately have been saying Kerry knows he'll lose Arkansas to Bush and that the proof is the absence of Kerry ads in Arkansas. Kerry running mate John Edwards said in Fort Smith this week that Kerry isn't advertising at the state level anywhere these days.

But the state GOP said in a statement Tuesday that it neither supported nor opposed the Nader petition. "Signing a petition is the right of every individual," the statement said.

Nader qualified for the Arkansas ballot last week after his supporters turned in 1,593 signatures on a petition to place his name on the ballot. He needed 1,000 verified signatures from registered Arkansas voters.

Some Democrats believe that Nader cost Democratic nominee Al Gore the presidential election in 2000 by siphoning votes that Gore needed in a close race against Bush. Bush received 51 percent, Gore 46 percent of the vote. Nader, who ran on the Green Party ticket that year, and Pat Buchanan of the Reform Party each received 1 percent of the vote. Three other candidates shared the rest of the state's votes. This year, Nader is running as an independent but needed a group affiliation to get on the Arkansas ballot. The Nader campaign in Arkansas is calling itself the Better Life Party.

Some Republicans who signed the petition for Nader denied trying to hurt Kerry's chances in Arkansas.

"I felt like he had the right to be on the ballot," said Martha McCaskill of Little Rock, former chairman of the Pulaski County Republican Party and a former unsuccessful GOP legislative candidate.

Another signer was Ed Garner of Maumelle, who lost in the Republican primary for the 2 nd Congressional District in May. He was not the only former GOP congressional candidate whose name was on the Nader petition. Cabot Mayor Mickey "

Stubby" Stumbaugh, a Republican, said he signed the petition because he believes anybody who wants to run for president should be on the ballot if he is at least 35 and hasn't committed a felony.

He said he "might have been" motivated partly by a desire to hurt Kerry's chances in Arkansas. If Kerry loses votes because of Nader, Stumbaugh said, "Who cares? I'm not a big fan of Kerry." The Democrats also found the name of Deena Burnett of Little Rock on the petition. Her husband died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and she has appeared at pro-Bush functions since then.

Last month the Republican Party in Michigan submitted 43,000 signatures to get Nader on the ballot in that state.

Reed Dickens, a spokesman for the Bush campaign in Arlington, Va., said, "The president will win Arkansas whether or not Ralph Nader is on the ballot. The Bush-Cheney campaign is obviously not involved in this."

Then why did GOP staff members sign the petition? Dickens wouldn't answer.

Rockefeller said, "I've got no idea what's going on. I've got a party to run, and a state to serve." He said he wouldn't expect his office chief of staff or party staff members to check with him before signing a petition for a presidential candidate running against Bush.

"We're a very open party that believes in the right of individuals," Rockefeller said. "I'm not controlling anybody."

What if his chief of staff wanted to promote Kerry?

He said he doubted that would ever happen because Kerry's political beliefs don't agree with those of Webb and other Republicans.

Nader's views on some issues are farther from Bush's than Kerry's. When an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter pointed this out to Rockefeller, Rockefeller said he had "a longdistance call coming in" and hung up.

Michael Cook of Little Rock, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said, "It's interesting to see that Gov. Rockefeller doesn't know what the people working for him are doing both on his government staff and political staff. It's disappointing." He said he couldn't believe that the GOP didn't orchestrate the Republicans' signing of the petition because the five party staff members signed one after the other on a sheet of signatures. Lamoureux didn't hide his push for Nader.

"It's legal," he said. "It's democracy. We're not forcing anybody to vote for Mr. Nader. We're giving them the opportunity to do so. I saw [news of the petition drive] on TV. I wanted to do it for a long time. I got it and brought it to my office and anybody I ran into that day [was asked to sign it]. I probably got about 50. They weren't all Republicans."

Rockefeller said he wanted to know how many Democrats signed the Nader petition.

Cook said he found none.

Lamoureux accused Democrats of using questionable tactics. "They're calling people who signed the petition asking people if they'd be willing to sign an affidavit saying they didn't sign the petition," he said.

He said he knows this because someone called his grandmother who answered the phone at his aunt's house. His aunt signed a petition he gave her.

Nader has accused Democrats in other states of dirty tricks aimed at blocking his access to the ballot.

Cook acknowledged that the party is making calls to check the validity of the signatures on the petition. He wouldn't say whether they found people who wanted their names taken off.

Jim Macri of Mountain View turned in the petitions for the Nader campaign. He said Nader's a "candidate like anybody else" and won't take votes away from Kerry or anybody else.

Macri said no one in the campaign that he knows of sought out Republican signatures.

"We just talked to whoever was there when we went to the farmers market [and other places]," Macri said. "I'm sure some Republicans would be glad to sign it because they might have that meaner spirit ... to undercut Kerry. But [such tactics are used by] both parties."

Three other political parties also have submitted petitions to place their candidates' names on Arkansas' presidential ballot.

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Pointless trivia 21.Aug.2004 14:31

George Bender

There are actually some serious issues involved in the Nader campaign, but you will never understand that if your attention is focused on useless bullshit like this. Which is why the Democrats and the mass media are pumping it out. It's a smokescreen to keep you from thinking.