Tue, Jul 20, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Sights set on Kerry, Republicans in Michigan help get Nader a ballot spot

PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS Conservative activists who would never vote for Nader have worked hard so that more liberal voters can pull the lever for him

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , WASHINGTON

US presidential candidate Ralph Nader speaks on the outskirts of US President George W. Bush's hometown of Crawford, Texas in this file photo from March 20.

PHOTO: REUTERS

With the apparent assistance of the state Republican Party, Ralph Nader appears likely to secure a spot on the Michigan presidential ballot. But Democrats are calling for him to withdraw and are threatening to file a complaint against the Republicans, charging that they contributed illegally to the Nader campaign.

Nader had gathered 5,400 signatures on petitions in Michigan but stopped collecting them over a month ago, deciding instead to go after the nomination of the Reform Party. After he stopped the petition effort, though, a split within the Reform Party made it not certain that he would get the nomination.

But last Thursday, the deadline for submitting signatures, more than 50,000 signatures were submitted on behalf of Nader. The state requires 30,000 signatures.

It appears that it was the Republican Party that stepped in to help Nader.

It is widely believed that if Nader is on the ballot in Michigan and other states, he would draw more votes from Senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic nominee, than from US President George W. President Bush.

An article from The Detroit News posted on the state Republican Party's Web site quotes the party's executive director as saying, "We are absolutely interested in having Ralph Nader on the ballot," and adds that the executive director, Greg McNeilly, was personally circulating petitions for Nader.

McNeilly told fellow Republicans in a recent e-mail message that the Democrats were trying to keep Nader off the ballot, and that "your help is needed in the next five days to ensure that Michigan voters are not disenfranchised."

Mark Brewer, the executive chairman of the Michigan Democratic Party, has asserted that the Republicans' petition-gathering was a contribution and that "there is no way they could have gathered over 40,000 signatures and spent less than US$5,000," which is the legal limit.

Kevin Zeese, a spokesman for Nader, said that the Republican work on behalf of Nader was not coordinated with Nader's campaign and thus was not subject to campaign contribution limits.

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