Pacific Northwest Provides Fertile Turf for Green Party
Dougherty, Carter, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
PORTLAND, Ore. - Ralph Nader rules the roost east of the Willamette River in Oregon's largest city. Every other lawn seems to sport a sign for the Green Party candidate for president. Bumper stickers tout him, too.
"If you lived in this little cosmos of southeast Portland, you'd think Nader is going to win," said Madelyn Driscoll, 27, who has not decided whether she will vote Green.
Mr. Nader may not win, in this state or any other, but Oregon and Washington - with 12 electoral votes between them - are among a handful of states in which he could play the spoiler: the guy who helps elect Texas Gov. George W. Bush to the White House by taking votes away from Vice President Al Gore.
Mr. Nader's acolytes have turned the Pacific Northwest into a beehive of political activity, with an eye on establishing a lasting foundation for the Green Party.
Polls show both states firmly in play for both major candidates. Seattle-based Elway Research found in late December that Mr. Gore was seven points ahead of Mr. Bush in Washington, with 4 percent for Mr. Nader and 15 percent undecided. Portland pollster Tim Hibbits says his latest survey shows Mr. Gore only one point ahead of Mr. Bush in Oregon, with the Green vote at a strong 8 percent.
In Washington state, potential Green voters seem wary of the impact Mr. Nader could have on the overall presidential race, which could be the closest in 40 years. Even Green Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata says he will only vote for Mr. Nader if he knows for certain it will not cost Mr. Gore the election, and plenty of others are thinking the same way.
"I won't know how I vote until the very end," Mr. Licata said.
But Oregon's Greens are a model of radicalism. The party boasts a firm alliance of aging hippies and younger activists who are thoroughly unrepentant, ready to send Mr. Gore off a cliff to vote their consciences and build a lasting party.
"I'd like to see Gore lose by exactly the same number of votes that Nader gets," said Mary Wiley, 54, a special-education teacher in Portland who attended a Green Party rally last week. …