Ralph Nader presidential campaign, 2004
Ralph Nader ran for the office of U.S. Presidency in the 2004 election, as he also had in several previous elections. In 1996 and 2000, Nader was the candidate of the Green Party; in the 2004 election, however, he ran as an independent candidate. He received 465,642 votes, for 0.38% of the total vote. Nader won the 2004 endorsement of the Reform Party USA, and thus appeared on the ballot as the Reform Party candidate in several states. In some states, Nader was on the ballot as an independent candidate, while in other states, Nader was deemed not to have met the requirements for ballot access. In Delaware, Nader accepted the endorsement of the Independent Party of Delaware on August 15. In New York Nader was nominated by the Independence Party at their party convention, and also appeared on the ballot under the Peace and Justice Party ballot lines.
In states where ballot access is more readily available by forming a new political party than by filing as an independent candidate, the Ralph Nader campaign chose to create the Populist Party. Nader appeared on the 2004 general election ballot under the designation "A Better Life" in the State of Minnesota and "The Better Life" in the State of Louisiana.
This Populist Party had no connection either to the much earlier American political party of that name or to the late-twentieth century Populist Party, which ran candidates such as David Duke and Bo Gritz and was widely regarded as a racist, white supremacist organization.
The Nader campaign expected that the new Populist Party organization would exist only for the limited purpose of achieving ballot access for Ralph Nader in 2004. However, an effort was made by the Populist Party of Maryland to field candidates for governor, other statewide seats, and at the local level for the State Assembly, county, and municipal positions in the 2005 and 2006 elections.
Meeting with Congressional Black Caucus
Nader attended a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus. The session soon turned into a shouting exchange and several CBC members stormed out. Nader argued that he would draw enough independents and Republicans away to weaken President George W. Bush. The caucus urged Nader to give up his presidential run, fearing that vote splitting would hurt John Kerry, the Democratic Party's nominee. Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) called the upcoming election "a life or death matter" for the Caucus members' constituents. Nader accused Congressman Mel Watt of twice uttered an "obscene racial epithet" towards him. Nader wrote the caucus chairman, Elijah Cummings, demanding an apology, but none was given.
As of October 26, 2004, Nader was slated to appear on the ballot in 34 states and Washington, DC, and was off the ballot in eight states (California, Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Missouri, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia).
The Nader campaign failed to gain a spot on a number of state ballots, and faced legal challenges to its efforts in a number of states. In some cases, state officials found large numbers of submitted voter petitions invalid. While Nader campaign officials blamed legal challenges by the Democratic Party for their difficulties in getting Nader's name on the ballot, the difficulties faced by petition-gatherers were also a significant factor – there were far fewer people in 2004 eager to sign petitions for Ralph Nader, and petition-gatherers complained that they often received verbal abuse from people they solicited. One of Nader's California organizers observed that "paid signature gatherers did not work for more than a week or two. They all quit. They said it was too abusive."
On April 5, 2004, Nader failed in an attempt to get on the Oregon ballot. "Unwritten rules" disqualified over 700 valid voter signatures, all of which had already been verified by county elections officers, who themselves signed and dated every sheet with an affidavit of authenticity (often with a county seal as well). This subtraction left Nader 218 short of the 15,306 needed. He vowed to gather the necessary signatures in a petition drive. Secretary of State Bill Bradbury disqualified many of his signatures as fraudulent; the Marion County Circuit Court ruled that this action was unconstitutional as the criteria for Bradbury's disqualifications were based upon "unwritten rules" not found in electoral code, but the state Supreme Court ultimately reversed this ruling. Nader appealed this decision to the US Supreme Court, but a decision did not arrive before the 2004 election.
The following list, based on information from Nader's campaign website, summarizes whether Nader appeared on a state's ballot, and whether that status had been disputed as of late October 2004, by Nader or his opponents:
Of the swing states, Nader was off the ballot in 4 (MO, OH, PA, VA), disputed off in 3 (AZ, OR, WI), disputed unknown in 1 (IA), disputed on in 8 (AR, CO, FL, ME, MI, NV, NH, WV), and on in 5 (LA, MN, NM, TN, WA).
In Alabama and New York, a ballot line appeared in which running mate Peter Camejo was replaced with Jan D. Pierce, a Vice President of the Communications Workers of America and in 2000 was head of "Labor for Nader." Pierce had also been filed as his running mate in Ohio, where they failed to get on the ballot. In Montana Camejo was replaced with Karen Sanchirico, an Ada County, Idaho Green Party activist and founder of the Idaho Patriots.
- http://www.uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=2004&minper=0&f=0&off=0&elect=0 Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections. "2004 Presidential General Election Results," (Retrieved August 3, 2013).
- Nichols, Hans and Peter Savodnik (July 14, 2004) "Nader Angers Congressional Black Caucus with Demand for Apology." Commondreams.org.
- "Nader Fails To Make Calif. Cut". CBS News.
- "Court OKs Nader on Florida ballot". CNN. September 18, 2004.
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- 2004 Official Presidential General Election Results
- http://www.archive.org/details/dn2004-1004 (Ralph Nader interview October 4, 2004)
- http://www.votenader.org (map)