By John Rondy
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Reuters) - The Green Party on Saturday refused to back Ralph Nader in his independent run for the White House, a move that could reduce his chances of being a factor in this year's election.
Delegates to the half-million-member party's presidential convention voted to nominate party activist David Cobb, a California lawyer who led the delegate count going into the meeting.
On the second round of voting, Cobb captured 408 delegates, more than the 385 needed to gain the nomination.
"What you have here before you are working class people who have demonstrated that it is possible to build a political party on principles and values -- without corporate money and without selling out," he told a lively crowd after he won the nomination.
"Ralph Nader has had more influence on my life than anyone who is not a direct relative. I am a lawyer because of Ralph Nader. Without Ralph Nader, this nomination wouldn't have happened," Cobb added.
Nader had not sought the party's nomination but said he would have accepted either that or an endorsement as a possible route to getting on the ballot in 22 states and the District of Columbia. The party earned those ballot positions as a result of its showing in 2000 when Nader headed its ticket.
The consumer rights advocate just days ago chose veteran Green Party politician Peter Camejo as his vice presidential running mate in an attempt to attract support from the party.
As an independent, Nader has been trying to consolidate support from third parties as well as disaffected Democrats and Republicans. He had already been endorsed by the Reform Party, giving him potential access to ballots in seven states where it won access.
Losing the Green Party's support could make it all the more difficult for him to get on the ballot in every state. He has been trying to round up signatures in as many states as possible and Democrats have indicated they will scrutinize those efforts and challenge them when validity questions arise.
In choosing Cobb, the Greens picked a candidate who spent the last eight years visiting 40 states, working at the grass-roots level to build ties between environmental and labor movements.
As the Green candidate in 2000, Nader drew 2.7 percent of the popular vote, but Democrats saw him as a spoiler who sapped strength from former Vice President Al Gore in battleground states, including Florida, where Nader drew 97,488 votes. Gore won the popular vote nationally but lost the weighted electoral college vote -- and the election -- to President Bush, losing Florida by 537 contested votes.
Whatever Momentum Nader had with picking Peter Camejo he has just lost it. It will now be an uphill battle for the Independent as he could have had 40+ (including the 10 States the Reform party had access to)states to have his name on ballots. I think we can write Ralph Nader's political obituary today.