A Socialist presidential candidate who was left off the November ballot by the secretary of state's office is pledging to fight the decision.

"This is preposterous. I know when my rights are being denied. They're picking a fight with the wrong guy," said Walt Brown (search), a retired law professor from Oregon who won the Socialist Party nomination last fall.

Colorado election statute requires candidates representing "nonqualified minor parties" such as the Socialists to file for the ballot at least 120 days before the general election. The deadline this year fell on July 5, a federal holiday.

In that case, Brown contends, state law allowed him until July 6 to file. But state Elections Director Bill Compton said the law required Brown to file by the close of business July 2.

Brown, 77, faxed in his candidate filing July 5. Staff of the secretary of state's office took Brown's $500 filing fee but decided last week to keep him off the ballot.

"He simply missed the deadline; that was all there was to it. That's the law. We can't waive it for him," said Compton, noting that the attorney general's office backed his opinion.

However University of Denver Law School professor Robert Hardaway said a canon of statutory construction favors the later date in conflicts about deadlines.

Meanwhile Brown is working to make the ballot in at least nine other states, the nation's capital and Guam.

Brown acknowledges he has no shot at winning the White House but said he is running to publicize Socialist causes such as universal health care.

"For me, this is about getting the party's message out," he said. "Running for president isn't always about winning."