Democrats fear Nader X-factor

Ralph Nader is once again running for president. This time, it’s without an entourage or campaign plane. At 70, he’s no longer the boy wonder leading his “Nader’s Raiders,” but he’s definitely a player.

“The two parties are proxies for the corporate government here in Washington,” says Nader.

Democrats are worried that he will pull votes from John Kerry. Kerry Democrats call Nader a “spoiler,” and Howard Dean is about to debate him on public radio. “He may have the effect again of re-electing George Bush,” said Dean recently on MSNBC’s “Hardball.”

Many of Nader’s former allies blame him for what happened four years ago and fear it will happen again. Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., says, “I told Mr. Nader that a vote for Ralph Nader is really a vote for George Bush.”

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They say if not for Nader’s 97,000 votes in Florida alone, where Al Gore lost by only 537 votes, Gore would likely be president.

In fact, every recent poll shows him hurting Kerry more than Bush. “For every vote that he gets from President Bush he’s taking two away from John Kerry,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart.

Nader himself disagrees: “We have to get away from this horse race concept because politics is too important to the American people to be trivialized in this way.”

State-by-state: Nader’s ballot quest
State Signatures required to get on ballot* Deadline for filing ballot
Alabama 5,000 Sept. 3
Alaska 2,845 Aug. 2
Arizona 14,694 June 9
Arkansas 1,000 Aug. 2
California 153,035 Aug. 6
Colorado pay fee July 5
Connecticut 7,500 Aug. 7
D.C. 3,600 Aug. 17
Delaware 5,184 Aug. 21
Florida 93,024 Sept. 1
Georgia 37,153 July 13
Hawaii 3,711 Sept. 3
Idaho 5,017 Aug. 31
Indiana 29,553 July 1
Illnois 25,000 June 21
Iowa 1,500 Aug. 13
Kansas 5,000 Aug. 26
Kentucky 5,000 Aug. 26
Louisiana pay fee Sept. 7
Maine 4,000 Aug. 9
Maryland 27,899 Aug. 2
Massachusetts 10,000 July 27
Michigan 31,776 July 15
Minnesota 2,000 Sept 14
Mississippi 1,000 Sept 3
Missouri 10,000 July 26
Montana 5,000 July 28
Nebraska 2,500 Aug. 24
Nevada 4,805 July 9
New Jersey 800 Jult 26
New Hampshire 3,000 Aug. 11
New Mexico 14,527 Sept. 7
New York 15,000 Aug. 17
North Carolina 100,532 July 6
North Dakota 4,000 Sept. 3
Ohio 5,000 Aug. 19
Oklahoma 37,027 July 15
Oregon 15,306 Aug. 24
Pennsylvania 25,697 Aug. 2
Rhode Island 1,000 Sept. 2
South Carolina 10,000 July 15
South Dakota 3,346 Aug. 3
Tennessee 275 Aug. 19
Texas 64,077 May 24
Utah 1,000 Sept. 3
Vermont 1,000 Sept. 16
Virginia 10,000 Aug. 20
Washington 1,000 Aug. 25
West Virginia 12,963 Aug. 2
Wisconsin 2,000 Sept. 14
Wyoming 3,644 Aug. 23
*Requirements for independent candidates
Source:MSNBC research • Print this

But Republicans clearly think he helps their candidate. Top Bush fund-raisers like billionaire Richard Egan are secretly bankrolling Nader. And in Oregon, Citizens for a Sound Economy, a conservative group, is asking members to help get Nader on the ballot, saying, “Nader could peel away a lot of Kerry support in Oregon.”

Nader got knocked off the ballot in Arizona, but he only has to get on the ballot in a few states like Ohio to once again influence a tight race.
© 2004 MSNBC Interactive