Brian Moore â€“ Socialist Party USA Presidential Candidate listen06/13/08 SeÃ¡n Kinane
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Last fall, while the presidential hopefuls from the two major parties were gearing up for a season of primary elections, the Socialist Party USA chose Brian Moore as its 2008 presidential nominee.
Moore of Spring Hill, FL, beat out four other Socialist Party USA candidates on the third ballot at the national convention in St. Louis last October. But unlike Democrats and Republicans, the elected nominee from the Socialist Party USA, one of several socialist parties in the country, does not automatically get on the ballot in any state. Instead, Moore said, he has to "work at it and earn each state."
"One of the easiest is our own state of Florida. All we need is 25 electors, from each of the 25 congressional districts, and two at-large, to represent the two senate seats."
But in most states, Moore said, it's much more difficult to get listed on the ballot. Many require tens of thousands of signatures or expensive filing fees.
"California for one requires about 158,000 signatures if you wanted to run as an independent candidate and 89,000 signatures as a party. Maryland 32,000 signatures, Michigan 38,000 signatures. They just try to beat you down, one way or the other."
In some states, alternative parties have earned automatic access. Sometimes they nominate other third-party candidates to run on their ticket. Moore explained how this has proven to be another obstacle.
"I'm competing with Ralph Nader in the state of Michigan, trying to piggy-back on the Natural Law Party. In the state of Delaware, there's an Independence Party, and they're tending to favor him, but they've invited me to the convention so I'll have to compete with Ralph Nader. South Carolina I might end up having to compete with Cynthia McKinney if she wins the Green nomination for another minor party. And in California I'm competing against the other three minor candidates, Nader, McKinney, and LaRiva for the Peace and Freedom nomination."
The Socialist Party USA has about 3,000 members nationwide. Instead of working for his campaign, Moore said, volunteers work to coordinate access to each stateâ€™s ballot.
"But some states, we just don't even have the manpower there and I have to call neighboring states to see if there'll be volunteers willing to travel for a weekend to join me or others to try to collect the 1,000 or 1,500 signatures."
Moore's platform includes an immediate end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, free and accessible national healthcare, and transferring ownership of corporations to the workers. He raises campaign money in order to collect signatures, either through traveling to the states or to pay professional petitioners.
Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain have been raising millions each month, but Moore has his sights set much lower.
"We usually raise about $2,000 a month. I'm going to make a concerted effort in the next five months to try to get that up. We want to see if we can qualify for matching funds, which is $5,000 in 20 states," Moore said.
The solution for all the troubles of ballot access for minor party candidates is obvious to Moore, it is automatic access.
"Well, with a uniform national law. Just make a basic criteria: if you're an official party with members, to meet that criteria and then you're automatically eligible to participate in 50 states. And then we can compete and then we might even be invited to participate in a debate."
Moore is already on the ballot in Vermont and will qualify in six other states soon. He expects to be on the ballot of at least 20 states by Novemberâ€™s election.