Thursday, August 14, 2008

Barr and McKinney File For President

Barr and McKinney File For President

Iowa's two official third parties both qualified their presidential candidates for the state's ballot on Wednesday. In a coincidence, both parties are running former U.S. House members from Georgia.

Bob Barr was a Republican in Congress, but now he's the Libertarian presidential nominee. Cynthia McKinney, a former Democrat, is the Green candidate.

Barr is showing up as a 2 to 3 percent blip in national polls, drawing support from disgruntled Republicans and former Ron Paul supporters. Paul, still serving as a Republican congressman, hasn't endorsed Barr -- but he hasn't endorsed John McCain either, and speaks often and highly of Barr.

First elected in the 1994 Republican landslide, Barr had a high profile role in the 1998 House impeachment of President Bill Clinton. Barr lost his seat in a 2002 primary, when redistricting paired him with another Republican incumbent. He surprised people by working with the American Civil Liberties Union on privacy issues, and left the Republicans last year.

National polls have excluded McKinney, preferring to ask about Ralph Nader instead. McKinney was first elected in 1992, and lost a 2002 primary where she was targeted by pro-Israel groups for her pro-Palestinian views. She won the seat back in 2004, but lost again in 2006 after getting a lot of negative attention over a physical confrontation with a Capitol police officer who failed to recognize her as a House member.

McKinney will compete with Nader, who qualified for the Iowa ballot as the "Peace and Freedom" candidate last week, for a similar group of voters. Nader is the better known name, but the Green Party has more of an organization than Nader's loose network. The Greens had hoped to increase their support from minority voters by nominating their first African-American candidate, but the Democrats seem to have had the same idea.

Greens and Libertarians earned a place on Iowa's voter registration forms on Jan. 1 this year as "political organizations," the new law's term for third parties. Voters can register as Libertarian or Green, but the parties still have to petition to get their candidates on the ballot. The deadline is Friday.

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