July 13, 2008
During the last presidential election in 2004, the State Board of Elections kept Independent, Ralph Nader off the Virginia ballot, saying his petition failed to get enough signatures from potential voters. This election, Nader says he will be on the ballot in Virginia.
Nader held a low-key campaign rally Sunday afternoon at the Gravity Lounge in Charlottesville. Supporters packed the small venue in hopes of hearing Nader's message, which he says cannot be expressed by the two major political parties.
"You have two giant parties that crowd out competitors and stifle dissent, and try to push them off the ballot in one state after another," said Nader.
Nader says his strong anti-corporate stance separates him from the Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and the Republican nominee John McCain.
"I am not under the influence of corporations. Whatever you say about Ralph Nader, he is not under the influence of corporations, and John McCain and Barack Obama are," said Nader.
The Independent White House hopeful was accused of being a spoiler candidate during the 2000 election because his liberal stances on issues were similar to those Democratic nominee Al Gore.
However, Isaac Wood, from the UVa Center for Politics says there is too much excitement in the Democratic party right now.
"When you look back at Al Gore, for example, he wasn't seen as particularly dynamic, so when you had Ralph Nader, it's easier to peel votes away," said Wood.
Many believe for Nader to be successful in Virginia, he needs to explain to Democrats why he is running.
"He has to make sure that from day one he's running a real campaign introducing himself. There are voters susceptible to his message, but have a lot of ill will towards him because they think he's runs only as a spoiler candidate," said Wood.
Nader spoke to Virginians about the need for a better transportation system, a living wage, and his strong position against the Iraq War. Nader also had some strong words against the two-party system.
"Well that's a demonstration of political bigotry because the Democrats don't own the votes in the country. Americans want more choices on the ballot," he said.
Nader says he has the 10,000 required signatures to get on the presidential ballot in Virginia this year. He needs a minimum of 400 valid signatures in each Congressional District.
Nader says he expects to be on the ballot in 45 states throughout the U.S. by Labor Day.