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
"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.
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