Michigan Republicans are helping to gather signatures to place independent Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in the battleground state, irritating Democrats who accuse the GOP of trying to pull votes away from candidate John F. Kerry.
“It’s another example of state Republicans willing to try every unethical trick in the book to hold power,” state Democratic Party Executive Chairman Mark Brewer said Thursday. “This clearly shows that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote to reelect George Bush. The Republicans know that, and that’s why they are desperate to have Nader on the Michigan ballot.”
Greg McNeilly of the state Republican Party said the GOP was doing nothing wrong and that it hoped Nader would draw votes from Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts. Republicans will make sure Nader has more than the 30,000 valid signatures he needs by July 15 to qualify for the Michigan ballot, McNeilly said.
“Unlike the Democratic Party, where ‘D’ stands for disenfranchisement, we want voters to have choices,” he said.
Brewer sent a letter to Nader on Thursday asking that he refuse the GOP’s assistance and any petition signatures collected by the Republican Party, its staff or volunteers.
“We’re not out there focusing on getting Libertarians on the ballot,” Brewer said. “If the Republicans refuse to stop their efforts and Nader accepts their help, we will have no choice but to oppose his petition effort, review every signature and challenge his petitions if they are insufficient in any way.”
When Nader was denied a spot on the Arizona ballot last week, he accused the Democrats and Kerry of engaging in political “dirty tricks” by challenging his ballot access.
Nader was joined by a few unexpected political allies late last month in Oregon. Two conservative groups worked to help boost attendance at a Nader rally in Portland to get him on the state ballot. The pro-Bush groups said they supported Nader in the hopes of ultimately siphoning votes from Kerry.