Houston (and Dallas) We Have a Problem

Ralph Nader has kept a low-profile since he announced his candidacy for the presidency last February. Polling results measuring the independent candidate’s support at 2-6 percent fuel most of the media attention.

Yesterday, however, in an effort to secure a place on the Texas ballot, Nader made a run at securing the signatures of 64,076 registered voters who did not participate in the state’s March 9 primary.

Alas, the effort failed, and the Texas press was dutifully on hand to cover the drama. Yet, it appears that the local coverage has been lulled to sleep during the candidate’s relative silence.

Yesterday and then again today, Gromer Jeffers Jr. of the Dallas Morning News incorrectly informed his readers that, “Getting on the Texas ballot was the first major test for the Nader campaign.” In fact, it was widely reported that Nader tried his hand at the Oregon ballot in early April but failed.

Given this detail, the Houston Chronicle’s John Williams confused Campaign Desk with this passage in today’s coverage: “Partly because of [the feeling that Nader took votes away from Gore], Nader this year has been targeting states such as Texas that are firmly in one political corner and are unlikely to be swing states in the race for Electoral College votes that decide the election.” Au contraire. Oregon, which Williams also fails to mention in his piece, is widely considered a battleground state in this election season. Both the Kerry and Bush campaigns aired ads in Oregon markets and the latest American Research Group poll from May 5 has the candidates in a dead heat.

Furthermore, in early April, Kevin Zeese, a senior Nader campaign aide, told the Boston Globe that Nader would make every effort to get on the ballot in all 50 states. Williams does not provide any reported evidence that might contradict Zeese’s assertion.

When Campaign Desk called the Nader campaign at 10:15 a.m. we were told Mr. Zeese was not in the office yet for the day. As of 12:20 p.m. he had not returned our phone call. Perhaps, that’s part of the problem in nailing down the facts about his boss.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.