Another Nader ballot effort begins

Ralph Nader’s Oregon campaign was cleared Friday to circulate petitions statewide, the third effort to get him on the state’s presidential election ballot.

State elections officials gave the go-ahead after Nader supporters picked a “stand-in” running mate in Oregon for the independent presidential candidate because of the state’s election requirements.

Backers now have to collect and turn in 15,306 validated voter signatures by Aug. 24 to put Nader on the Nov. 2 ballot.

State Elections Director John Lindback refused to approve a proposed petition Friday that included Nader’s national vice presidential running mate, Peter Camejo, because Camejo is a Green Party member.

Oregon law requires that independent candidates be registered as independents at least 180 days before the Aug. 24 deadline, Lindback said.

Kafoury said a legal assistant in his office, Sandra Kucera, is an eligible independent who backs Nader and filed as a “stand in” for Camejo in Oregon in order to help Nader get on the ballot.

Kafoury sharply criticized the registration law as another of “hypertechnical rules created by Republicans and Democrats to maintain their monopoly power.”

Nader supporters have held two one-day conventions in Portland under an alternative method allowing contenders to get on the ballot by assembling at least 1,000 people at one time to sign petitions.

The first meeting in April didn’t draw enough people. The second convention, on July 26, attracted 1,150 people, but Nader backers fear there may not be 1,000 valid voter signatures from among those who attended.

“The uncertainty of the eventual outcome has led the campaign to launch a signature drive in order to assure ballot access,” Kafoury said.

He said signatures will need to be turned in by mid-August to allow time for county election officials to validate them.

“We need volunteers,” he said.

Russ Walker, Oregon director of the Republican-leaning anti-tax Citizens for a Sound Economy has said the organization is ready to help gather signatures to help Nader get on the Oregon ballot.

Nader’s popularity appears to be diminishing in the state, where he drew thousands of people to rallies in his presidential bid in 2000. Many Democrats view him as a spoiler who siphoned crucial votes from Democrat Al Gore.

Gore won Oregon by just 6,700 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast in 2000. Nader drew 5 percent of the Oregon vote then, but pollsters say fear of his spoiler role likely would shrink his Oregon vote to 2-3 percent this time.