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Nader's Lawsuit Over Alleged '04 Ballot Conspiracy Finds New Venue

Ralph Nader didn't have any luck in Washington, D.C., with a lawsuit alleging a conspiracy to keep him off the 2004 presidential ballot. So he's taking his case to Washington County, a sparsely populated locale at the nation's easternmost tip.

The lawsuit five years after President George W. Bush beat Democrat John Kerry contends the Kerry campaign and Democratic leaders conspired to keep Nader off the ballot in Maine and more than a dozen other states.

Nader's lawyer, Oliver Hall, said there was a concerted effort by Nader's enemies to use courts as a weapon to sabotage Nader and his running mate, the late Peter Camejo. The lawsuit targets Kerry's presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Maine Democratic Party.

"The Democrats were very clear in the 2004 election that really their purpose was just to bankrupt the Nader-Camejo campaign, drain their resources, tie them up in court and to prevent Ralph Nader and Peter Miguel Camejo from running for office," Hall said from his Washington office.

In the end, Nader and Camejo, running as independents, appeared on the ballot in 34 states and collected only three-tenths of a percent of the nation's popular vote.

Nader sued in 2007 in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, but that lawsuit was tossed because the three-year statute of limitations expired.

Maine's statute of limitations, which is six years, is more generous. Hall brought the lawsuit in Washington County because that's where two of Nader's Maine electors reside.

There's no love lost between Nader and Democrats.

Nader is loathed by many Democrats who believe his Green Party candidacy in 2000 cost Democrats the election by taking votes away from candidate Al Gore. Nader blamed Democrats for their razor-thin loss.

Four years later, Maine Democratic Party Chairwoman Dorothy Melanson sued over the validity of some of the signatures obtained by Nader to make it onto the state's ballot. Nader ultimately prevailed.

Arden Manning, executive director of the Maine Democratic Party, said he believed the state lawsuit could amount political "grandstanding" by Nader to generate attention.

"Mr. Nader's contention that there was a vast conspiracy against him -- we think that's laughable. The truth is he barely qualified for the ballot in Maine," he said.