- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 29, 2003

The Green Party is not likely to sit on the sidelines for the presidential race next year, a party official said this week, fueling speculation that consumer advocate Ralph Nader will once again make a presidential bid.

Meanwhile, national Democrats have been in constant contact with Green Party leaders, urging them to cooperate by not running a candidate so President Bush can be defeated in 2004.

“It is a very slim possibility that we will not run somebody next year,” said Sarah Charlesworth, a member of the Green Party’s presidential exploratory committee.

Mr. Nader is “leaning toward a run,” said Juscha Robinson, who leads the party’s Coordinated Campaign Committee.

“He has been in touch with us for some time now,” Miss Robinson said. “We have an ongoing dialogue with him.”

The field of Democratic presidential candidates is not strong enough at this point to deter a Green Party candidate on the 2004 ticket, said Green Party spokesman Scott McLarty. Mr. Nader, whom some Democrats blame for Al Gore’s loss to George W. Bush in 2000, captured 3 percent of the vote that year.

In Florida, which decided the 2000 election, Mr. Bush received 2,912,790 votes and Mr. Gore 2,912,253 — a difference of 537 votes. Mr. Nader received 97,488 votes in Florida, most of which Democrats say would have gone to Mr. Gore.

Mr. Nader was also perceived as a very serious threat in Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan — forcing Mr. Gore to spend time and money in those states rather than campaign elsewhere. Mr. Gore won all five states.

Mr. Nader’s 2000 presidential bid championed issues such as the environment, campaign finance reform and opposition to economic globalization. Some 2004 Democratic presidential contenders are focusing on liberal-left issues that appeal to many Green Party members.

“There are some good Democrats in the running,” Mr. McLarty said. “Dennis Kucinich is at the top of that list. And Carol Moseley Braun, Howard Dean and Al Sharpton — we appreciate some of their stands, but some of them are compromised.”

However, Mr. McLarty acknowledged that all the candidates he noted stand little chance of receiving the Democratic Party nomination.

“We have several party activists who are interested in running, but no one with near the national fame of Mr. Nader,” he added. “We are looking to build on past success, and if we run a national candidate, we want someone who can top the 3 percent we got in 2000.”

A group of Green Party members has formed the “Draft Nader 2004 Committee” in hopes of persuading him to run again.

“We would like to have something in place by the fall,” said Doug Friedline, the committee’s national political director. “We have put together an effort that will allow us to have people in place in each state by the end of the year.”

The party’s 25-member exploratory committee speaks twice monthly on a conference call, discussing possible candidates. Mr. Nader, who is not an official member of the Green Party, earned 3 percent of the popular vote, or 2.78 million votes, in 2000.

In a national poll of Green Party members, Mr. Nader was the favorite for the presidential race next year, trailed closely by former Democratic Rep. Cynthia McKinney of Georgia. Also noted were Rep. Henry A. Waxman, California Democrat, and television figure Bill Moyers.

“We need somebody of Mr. Nader’s stature to run for us,” Mr. McLarty said. “He is somebody who would have the strongest following in the party.”

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