Nader joins race for president


Consumer activist Ralph Nader has found an unconventional way to get on Oregon's ballot this year: He will be the presidential nominee of a brand-new party.

Since May, Nader loyalists have been quietly collecting signatures from voters in hopes of forming a Peace Party, with the right to nominate candidates statewide.

This week, they found out that they had turned in enough signatures to qualify.

On Friday afternoon, members of the Peace Party informed state elections officials that Nader would be their presidential candidate.

Don Hamilton, a spokesman for Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, said elections officials will review the party's nomination on Monday, but "things look to be in order."

Political parties have until Tuesday to inform elections officials about their slate of candidates and get them listed on the statewide ballot.

At the height of his popularity in Oregon, Nader drew 10,000 people to a rally at Memorial Coliseum in Portland in 2000 and won 5 percent of the presidential vote in the state that year.

But four years later, many Democrats said he siphoned votes from Democrat Al Gore, and they blamed him for the first four years of the Bush presidency. He didn't make the ballot in Oregon despite several attempts.

Nader later filed a lawsuit against Bradbury, claiming that elections officials obstructed his attempts to get onto the ballot. The Oregon Supreme Court dismissed the case.

Nader has already qualified for the 2008 ballot in a handful of other states, including Missouri, Connecticut, South Dakota, Montana and California. Efforts to get him on the ballot are ongoing in Virginia, Kansas and Alabama, among other states.

Oregon has five other minor parties: Constitution, Independent, Libertarian, Pacific Greens and Working Families.

To form a political party, Peace Party backers needed to collect 20,693 valid signatures, or 1.5 percent of the total votes cast for governor in the last election.

Elections officials said they turned in 33,858 and that about 77 percent of those signatures were valid, a relatively high rate. To remain a recognized statewide party, parties must capture — percent of the total vote cast for any office, or have at least one-half of — percent of the total number of registered voters in the state belong to their party. That's about 10,200 voters.

Greg Kafoury, a longtime Nader supporter, said he envisioned a future for the Peace Party beyond the 2008 election.

"Both (Barack Obama and John McCain) want to escalate in Afghanistan. They are both threatening Iran. Neither one wants to withdraw completely from Iraq," Kafoury said. "There might be some use for a peace party, don't you think?"

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