Ralph Nader's (search) campaign said it has collected more than enough signatures to get on the presidential ballot in Arizona, the first state ballot for the independent candidate.
Nader spokesman Kevin Zeese said late Wednesday that the campaign collected some 22,000 signatures, more than the 14,694 needed to compete against President Bush and Democrat John Kerry (search) in Arizona.
Democrats, who blame Nader for denying Democrat Al Gore (search) the presidency in 2000, promised to scrutinize the signatures to determine if they were valid as well as examine the petition drive.
"We are going to be putting these signatures under a microscope," said Jim Pederson, the state's Democratic Party chairman.
At stake in Arizona are 10 electoral votes. Bush defeated Gore by 6 percentage points in 2000, and Nader captured 3 percent of the vote in the Republican-leaning state. This election year, Democrats say they have a better shot at capturing the state, which has a Democratic governor, Janet Napolitano, and a growing number of Hispanics.
If the state validates the signatures, Arizona would be Nader's first ballot. The consumer advocate has been endorsed by the national Reform Party, which gives him access to the ballot in at least seven states, including the battlegrounds of Florida and Michigan.