Ralph Nader files to get on ballot in Minnesotaby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
Today is the deadline for third party candidates to file petitions to get on the Nov. 4 ballot in Minnesota. In addition to Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama, voters will have the option to vote for a member of the Socialist Workers Party, a member of the Green Party and a member of the Constitution Party. They will also have the option of voting for Ralph Nader, who is running for president for a third time.
St. Paul, Minn. — With just hours to spare before the 5 p.m. deadline, members of Nader's Minnesota campaign submitted 4,000 signatures to get the consumer rights advocate on the ballot -- twice as many as are required.
Danene Provencher, Nader's Minnesota coordinator, says the campaign expects to get Nader on 45 state ballots for the November election. She says the next step is to get Nader included in the presidential debates.
"As a third party and an independent movement, we're feeling shut out from the process. We're not being heard," she said.
Provencher says Nader is the best option for president because he's pushing a liveable wage and is opposed to corporate bailouts. She also argues he's the only clear choice because she says Barack Obama and John McCain are both relying on big donor contributions to run their campaigns.
"I think people are ready for a change. A real change," said Provencher. "They don't see that the two parties that are influenced by the corporate contributions are representing the people, so they're looking to Mr. Nader and other third party candidates to do that."
But some disagree with Provencher's assessment.
"I think this is going to be an election with clear choices, so I think those minor parties are going to have less impact," said Joe Kunkel, a political science professor at Minnesota State University Mankato.
Kunkel says the last eight years are proof that there are clear differences between Democrats and Republicans. Kunkel points to the response to the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq war and tax policy as examples.
In 2004, Nader finished third in Minnesota's presidential contest behind Democrat John Kerry and Republican President George W. Bush. But he garnered less than 1 percent of the vote -- much lower than the 5 percent he got in the 2000 election in Minnesota.
Some Democrats blamed Nader for the near tie in Florida that led to George Bush's defeat of Democrat Al Gore in 2000. Kunkel says he doubts Nader will have an impact this year in critical swing states, but if he does, it means Obama has bigger problems.
"If Obama can't carry those states because Nader is pulling votes from him, he might as well fold up his tents and go home because he isn't going to win," said Kunkel.
An Obama campaign official said his candidate is not focusing on Nader. He says the election will be close, but predicts it will come down to Obama or McCain.
- All Things Considered, 09/09/2008, 4:50 p.m.