California's Greens Reject Nader's Bid for State Ballot
Published on Wednesday, August 11, 2004 by the San Francisco Chronicle
California's Greens Reject Nader's Bid for State Ballot
by Carla Marinucci
 

Ralph Nader, who failed to secure enough signatures to get on the Nov. 2 ballot in California, suffered another political setback Tuesday when state Green Party leaders rebuffed a move intended to make him the state party's presidential nominee.

The California Green Party's executive committee rejected the idea of holding a special general assembly -- a state nominating convention -- that could have put Nader and his vice presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, on the state ballot.

Cres Vellucci, spokesman for the California Green Party, said the state party had reaffirmed the national party's nomination of presidential candidate David Cobb and running mate Patricia LaMarche in California, the state with the largest Green Party membership.

The effort by Nader supporters to get a ballot foothold in California, the nation's most populous state, has been considered strategically significant to the former consumer advocate. While California is not a battleground state -- polls show Democrat John Kerry leading President Bush by double digits -- insiders said the free media in a state with 18 major media markets would give Nader the best shot at gaining traction, and perhaps enough votes to gain future public funding and a role in presidential debates.

Nader's campaign spokesman Kevin Zeese downplayed the matter, saying the campaign was still examining its legal and political options. "There's a number of things we have in the fire,'' he said.

Still, the push for Green Party access created bitter divisions -- and a public debate among Greens over Nader's campaign for president, which a variety of polls show could take votes from Kerry and give the edge to Bush in closely contested states.

Supporters passionately argued that Nader deserved a shot at the California ballot, because the Green Party's complex nominating process was undemocratic and Cobb was chosen as the nominee despite widespread support for Nader.

"What you're seeing is a lot of angry California Greens, that they're having David Cobb shoved down their throat,'' Zeese said. "It's become an issue of basic democracy for the Green Party.''

Cobb maintained he had become the party's candidate in a fair process -- after Nader publicly insisted he did not want its nomination.

"I am disappointed that Ralph is willing to disrupt and damage the Green Party in an effort to get on the Greens' ballots,'' Cobb said.

"Ralph chose to run as an independent, and it looks like a mistake,'' he said. "It looks like Ralph Nader needed the Green Party in terms of volunteer energy and organization.''

With three months until the election, Zeese said Nader had received word from secretaries of state in New Jersey, South Dakota and Nevada that he had qualified for their ballots.

© Copyright 2004 San Francisco Chronicle

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