(Host) It now appears likely that independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader will qualify to be on the November ballot in Vermont. The Nader campaign says it already has enough petition signatures but it’s collecting more just to be sure.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Kinzel) In the 2000 election, Vermont was one of Nader’s strongest states; he received roughly seven percent of the vote in that presidential race. To qualify for the 2004 election, the Nader campaign must present a thousand signatures to the Secretary of State’s office by the middle of September.
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says Vermont’s law governing independent candidacies is one of the most lenient in the country:
(Markowitz) “Meaning that we make it very easy for candidates to get on the ballot at all levels, including president. And for that reason, this fall you’ll see a number of independent folks running for president in Vermont.”
(Kinzel) Ashley Smith has just been hired to be a full-time coordinator for the Nader campaign in Vermont. Smith says the campaign should have no problem qualifying for the November ballot:
(Smith) “Several people have been out already petitioning and we already have well over a thousand. And our goal is to get a couple of thousand signatures so that if we have any difficulties with any individual signatures, we’ll be well over the total needed. So I don’t think we’ll have any trouble reaching our goal at all.”
(Kinzel) Smith says the Nader campaign is attracting a lot of support on college campuses in Vermont because students are responding to Nader’s message that there’s essentially no difference between President Bush and his Democratic challenger John Kerry:
(Smith) “They agree on almost every single question and in fact Kerry has really backed the Bush agenda for the last several years. So in many ways, a vote for Kerry is a vote for a politician who instead of fighting Bush’s agenda has actually joined it for the last three years.”
(Kinzel) However Vermont Democratic chairman Scudder Parker strongly disagrees with this analysis:
(Parker) “Folks who say that the Democrats just aren’t pure enough, I’ve got to say you really have to decide where this country is going what you value. The danger of four more years of the Bush administration is just phenomenal.”
(Kinzel) The Vermont Green Party may try to convince Nader to accept their nomination for president. If Nader accepts that offer he will not be listed as an independent candidate on the November ballot.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.