Thursday, August 07, 2008

Nader qualifies for Iowa Ballot

Nader to file in Iowa Friday

Ralph Nader's campaign has gathered twice the required signatures and plans to file for a place on the Iowa ballot Friday. Democrats are still seething at Nader over his "spoiler" role in Florida in 2000, but a look at election returns show that he has not made the difference in Iowa between Democrats and Republicans in his three previous races.

The Nader campaign planned to submit 3,000 signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State's office, twice the required 1,500. In 2004 Nader's petitions were challenged in many states, including Iowa. "Any challenge would be doomed to failure," said Scott Knight of the Iowa Nader campaign.

The campaign had planned to file on Thursday and hold a morning news conference, but a delay in a FedEx package carrying documents with Nader's signature led to the rescheduling.

As the Green Party nominee, Nader drew 0.5 percent of the Iowa vote in 1996, when Bill Clinton easily beat Bob Dole. But despite the widespread spoiler argument (are you listening, Leonard Boswell?), Nader's 29,374 Iowa votes as a Green in 2000 weren't enough to keep Democrat Al Gore from winning Iowa by 4,000 votes.

Further undercutting the spoiler argument, Nader's percentage in 2004 collapsed to 0.4 percent, yet Iowa flipped from blue to red. Nader's 5,973 votes were less than George Bush's 10,000 vote margin over John Kerry.

Nader ran in Iowa as an independent candidate in 2004, and some of his 2000 support shifted to Green nominee David Cobb. This year, the competition for the Nader niche may be fiercer, as the Greens have nominated a higher profile candidate, former congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

A four-way national Associated Press-Ipsos Poll released Tuesday showed Nader at 3 percent and Libertarian Bob Barr with 2 percent. McKinney was not included in the survey, which had Democrat Barack Obama ahead of Republican John McCain, 47 percent to 41 percent.

Nader will file in Iowa as the "Peace and Freedom Party" candidate. That ballot label has been used for 40 years as a catch-all left party in California, dating back to the 1968 Eldridge Cleaver campaign. In other states, Nader is running as an independent or as the candidate of the "Independent Party."

"Our chances in the fall really depend on our ability to get into the debates," Knight told Iowa Independent. "If Nader is allowed in the debates the sky is the limit on how well we could do in November." Only two third party candidates have participated in fall debates. Ross Perot debated Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush in 1992. John Anderson debated Ronald Reagan in 1980, but Jimmy Carter boycotted the debate.

"If Nader is not in the debates, then we are hoping to get the Peace and Freedom Party permanent ballot status in Iowa," said Knight. That would require Nader to reach 2 percent in Iowa, the level he reached in 2000.

Nader joins Gloria LaRiva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation on the Iowa ballot. The filing deadline is August 15.

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