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June 22, 2004
Nader Picks Running Mate From California

Independent candidate and potential spoiler Ralph Nader made two major announcements yesterday, selecting his running mate and announcing his openness to the Green Party endorsement in the fall. For his dance partner in November, Nader selected Peter Camejo, a man who once ran for President with the Socialists and who was last seen vying for Gray Davis' job in the California recall:

Nader's selection of Camejo gives further shape to a left-leaning, antiwar campaign many Democrats fear will spoil their effort to unseat President Bush.

It bolstered Nader's quest to win an endorsement from the Greens at their national convention, which begins Wednesday in Milwaukee. If Nader succeeds, he could win ballot access in 22 states including California and the District of Columbia.

Camejo also improves Nader's access to an important constituency. A fluent Spanish speaker of Venezuelan descent, Camejo plans to campaign vigorously for Latino votes coveted by Democrats and Republicans.

For all those reasons, many Democrats were unsettled by the emergence of a Nader-Camejo ticket.

Appearing to reverse his earlier abandonment of the Greens, Nader now embraces any party that wishes to endorse his candidacy:

But no sooner had Mr. Nader announced Mr. Camejo's selection in Washington than he upstaged it by saying that he would accept the party's endorsement if offered.

He said he would continue to run as an independent but welcomed support from alternative parties because his campaign, he said, aimed to be "an ecumenical gathering of third parties."

Nader has reached back towards the Green Party he seemed to spurn last year when he announced his candidacy in selecting Camejo. The erstwhile gubernatorial candidate from 2003 has been one of the Greens' most visible activists in California and his inclusion on Nader's ticket helps to build a bridge to another outside group, or in this case, rebuild it. Garnering the support of the Green Party would allow Nader automatic ballot access in 22 states, making his once-Quixotic quest to appear on all 50 ballots almost a certainty.

Nader's selection of a prominent Hispanic activist threatens both parties, but leaves the Democrats especially vulnerable. Democrats have long counted on Hispanic voters for their overwhelming support, but in this election cycle, it looks like the Republicans may be successful in peeling off the more conservative Hispanic voters. Pollsters (the reliable ones) had already said that the GOP could be competitive among this demographic in November. Now, with Nader selecting Camejo and his Green connection raising the probability of Nader appearing on every ballot, the Democrats face a real squeeze from the left, and not just among Hispanics.

Addendum: The Los Angeles Times' Nick Anderson and Susannah Rosenblatt do a good job of presenting Camejo and the dynamics of his selection. However, the New York Times' analysis, presented by Mark Glassman, anemically avoids his ethnicity and its potential impact on the election as well as any reaction from the Democrats. Instead, Glassman settles for a single quote from one Green Party member that still rejects Nader. If this is what passes for analysis at the Gray Lady these days, it looks like their staff can mail it in for the next four months.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 22, 2004 6:06 AM

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