COLUMBUS (TDB) --Last month erstwhile presidential candidate Ralph Nader filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking $1 in damages (yep, a buck) from Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell because Blackwell booted the consumer-activist-turned-White House-wannabe off the 2004 ballot. Nader really doesn't want the money. He wants a legal ruling that eases barriers for third party candidates stuck with gathering thousands of names on petitions to run.
Now Blackwell's lawyers want Nader booted out of Ohio again.
In a recent court filing, they painted Nader as a sore loser who litigated the same issue without success when his presidential hopes were dashed. They said he is trying to resurrect it by legal guile as a claim for monetary damages. (Southern District of Ohio, 2:06-cv-821.) Richard A. Coglianese, Ohio's principal assistant attorney general, pointed out that Nader's 2004 ballot-access petitions were obtained by cheating. ''He has brought this claim despite the fact that both the state and federal courts reviewed the secretary's decision in 2004 and refused to overturn it. Those courts found that the massive fraud in which some circulators had engaged was a sufficient reason to remove Nader from the ballot," Coglianese said. He said Blackwell was cloaked in immunity as a state official who acted properly in carrying out his duties.
Those with long memories know there is more to the story. Blackwell originally put Nader on the ballot, then removed him after Democratic lawyers filed a challenge contending the petitions were bogus. Blackwell, a Republican, was a key official in President George W. Bush's re-election campaign team, and his decision to keep Nader on the ballot was viewed as a move to help the GOP candidate. At the time, Nader was considered a potential threat to the Dems in '04 because of his appeal to those otherwise likely to vote "D". And many Democrats are still angry -- they believe his third party race destroyed Al Gore's chances in Florida in 2000. And, if he can win this lawsuit, he might be a threat to them again in 2008.
Question: Is Ralph Nader in danger of becoming the next Harold Stassen?