Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Nader, and the race for governor of Virginia

The race for governor in Virginia is one of the most hotly contested elections in 2009.  In the Democratic primary, the established party figure Terry McAuliffe is facing off against a few opponents, but Theresa Amato is leveling the charge of hypocrisy against McAuliffe.  “Terry McAuliffe the candidate is not the Terry McAuliffe I knew as chairman of the DNC in 2004,” she said in a press release from the organization Free and Equal Elections.  Amato worked on Ralph Nader’s 2000 and 2004 campaigns for president and she has recently released a book called “Grand Illusion:  The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny.”

The press release explains:

In Grand Illusion, Amato, the national manager of Nader’s lightning-rod 2000 and 2004 presidential campaigns, recounts how, after Nader rebuffed Chairman McAuliffe’s offer, the DNC and its state party affiliates embarked on an effort, unprecedented in U.S. history, to force Nader out of the 2004 presidential election. Amato says McAuliffe repeated over and over during a conversation:  “Stay out of 19 states.”

McAuliffe’s 2004 attempt to confine Nader to 31 states, revealed an exclusionary and censorious Terry McAuliffe that is hard to reconcile with gubernatorial candidate McAuliffe’s professed support for ballot access and democratic participation as a candidate in Virginia’s 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Earlier this year, candidate McAuliffe told WTOP radio’s Mark Plotkin that “anyone is entitled to run for office,” and the more people who run for office, the better it is.” McAuliffe’s campaign blog also claims that he stands for “getting people engaged in the democratic process.”

It goes on to explain in more detail what McAuliffe did to keep Nader off of the ballot:

Pennsylvania was among the hotly-contested 2004 states where the Democrats and their allies successfully strong-armed Nader off the ballot.  In 2008, as part of an ongoing grand jury investigation, the Pennsylvania Attorney General has charged 12 members or employees of the Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus with using taxpayer money and resources for improper political purposes–including keeping 2004 Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader off the state’s ballot.  Criminal charges against the Pennsylvania state workers are still pending.

“Such a contrast invites explanation at the very least,” commented Christina Tobin, the chairman of Free and Equal.  “Perhaps candidate McAuliffe would now make amends by pledging to support free and equal elections and one reasonable federal standard for ballot access for federal office for all parties.”

27 thoughts on “Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Nader, and the race for governor of Virginia

  1. Anthony Booker

    I agree with Ms. Tobin. C’mon McAuliffe-explain your apparent 180. Or is it merely a “grand Illusion?”

  2. Ross Levin Post author

    Thanks to Richard Winger for posting that this has been picked up by one of the Washington Post’s blogs:


    Consumer activist Ralph Nader accused Terry McAuliffe Thursday of orchestrating an effort to remove him from the presidential ballot in 2004 when McAuliffe was chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

    Nader said that McAuliffe offered him an unspecified amount of money to campaign in 31 states if Nader would agree to pull his campaign in 19 battleground states.

    “When you get a call like that, first of all it’s inappropriate,” Nader said in an interview. “The other thing is if you don’t immediately say no, it’s like taffy, you get stuck with it.”

    The latest charge against McAuliffe, who is in a hotly-contested three-way Democratic primary for governor, calls into question — again — whether his political career is a liability for him as a candidate.

    McAuliffe isn’t denying the charge. His spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith said in a statement McAuliffe “was concerned that Ralph Nader would cost John Kerry the election as he did Al Gore in 2000 and give us another four years of George W. Bush.”

    “It looks like Ralph Nader misses seeing his name in the press,” Smith said. “Terry’s focused on talking with Virginians about jobs, not feeding Ralph Nader’s ego.”

    The accusations are outlined in a new book, Grand Illusion, The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, by Theresa Amato, Nader’s national campaign manager in 2000 and 2004, who writes about the barriers to third-party candidates.

    “This seemed to be a very undemocratic kind of thing to do,” Amato said. “The head of the Democratic party was telling Ralph where he could or not could run.”

  3. Sebastian

    Terry McAuliffe is a phony. Let’s see Virginia Voters dump this creep away from the trough.

  4. d.eris

    Yes, McAuliffe, wants “people engaged in the democratic process . . . the more people who run for office the better,” that is, apart from . . . except . . . unless . . . barring . . . outside of . . .

    And Lenin was a capitalist, who believed in private property, apart from . . . except . . . unless . . . barring . . . outside of . . .

  5. VAGreen

    d.eris // May 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    Yes, McAuliffe, wants “people engaged in the democratic process . . . the more people who run for office the better,” that is, apart from . . . except . . . unless . . . barring . . . outside of . . .

    He’s all for it as long as they’re Democrats!

  6. Steven R Linnabary

    Good post, Ross!!

    But the typical post is:
    Nader can go to Hell (0+ / 0-)
    I take nothing that he or his followers say seriously. They’ve long since discredited themselves. And if McAuliffe did try to keep Nader off the ballot in various states, then good, more power to him.

    by oceanstar17 on Thu May 28, 2009 at 08:11:11 PM PDT

    Democrats don’t care if what they do is legal or even ethical!! Of course, republicans are just the opposite, they don’t care if it is ethical or legal!!


  7. Michael Cavlan

    Good job indeed IPR.

    Screw Daily KOS and screw Democrats and Rethuglicans.

  8. Ross Levin

    I’m the one who wrote it at Dailykos. I don’t think you understand what Dailykos is.

  9. VAGreen

    In 2004, the Republicans scheduled their convention for early September in New York City. Hmm…early September…New York City…could it have something to do with exploiting 9/11? The convention was after the filing deadline to be on the ballot in nine states. IN ALL NINE STATES, the Democrats changed the filing deadline so that their buddy Bush could get on the ballot. They were actively HELPING Bush while they were trying to keep Nader off the ballot.

  10. Michael Cavlan

    Ross Levin

    I understand EXACTLY what Daily KOS is.

    Just as I understand what the Nation magazine is, or Air America, Mother Jones, Progressive magazine etc etc etc.

    All of them are shills for the corporate corrupted, pro-war two party system. Daily KOS is very open about what they are. Not for progressives. Their stated mission is to aid DEMOCRATS. Any and all Democrats.

    In this day and age, you can no longer be a real progressive and a Democrat at the same time.

    As for their hatred of Nader. Well they claim that it is because of the 2000 election. horse shit. Nader simply exposes them (Democrats and their legion of apologists) for what they are.

    Corporatists and militarists.

    THAT is the real reason that the KOS crowd hate Nader. He exposes them for what they really are.

    Simply by speaking his own truth.

    Democrats, Rethuglicans and the rotten system they protect are the problem, not the solution.

  11. Ross Levin Post author

    Who is “they” when you are talking about Dailykos is? Do you know that you can register at Dailykos and write posts for them? Anyone can.

    If you’re generalizing and simplifying like that you clearly don’t know what it is and have no understanding of how the website works.

    I definitely have problems with Dailykos. There’s a lot of groupthink there and a lot of Nader-hating for no good reason and some other things. But I also have problems with the stupidity that you’re displaying.

  12. Ross Levin Post author

    More places where this story is being picked up:






    And other places.

    And it should be pointed out that Nader has not been “holding onto” this news for five years – it’s just that most people haven’t heard about it until now.

  13. whatever

    Anyone can register and post at DailyKOS, but they will ban you if you significantly diverge from their admitted pro-Democrat mision statement.

  14. Ross Levin Post author

    And somehow I manage to post there without getting banned, even though I clearly support a lot of parties that aren’t the Democratic Party. I’ve even posted something about Richard Carroll there that was blatantly pro-Green and I did get some mean comments, but other than that I was fine.

    Most of the posts are not about electoral politics, actually.

  15. Steven R Linnabary

    and I did get some mean comments

    From what I saw, MOST of the comments were very mean spirited.

    And you are correct, a lot of the comments are “uh huh” and “ditto for me” type comments. Hardly an intellectual exercise.

    I get the strong feeling after reading DailyKos a few times that most of the posters ire at people like George Wallace and Lester Maddox is because they had left the democrat fold to run third party.

    Not my idea of progressive.


  16. Ross Levin Post author

    I think most of the people there that hat George Wallace hate him both because he was racist and because he left the Democratic party.

    If you’re talking about the comments on the Richard Carroll story – about half were from one person, but most of the people at Dailykos really are nice people and pretty openminded.

    I’m in a weird place, really – on Dailykos I’m very far left and very radical and over here it looks like I’m a lot closer to the mainstream or to the Democratic party than most commenters.

  17. Michael Cavlan



    If you post a non Democratic Party line, then you will be banned almost immediately.

    Like I said, I know EXACTLY what Daily KOS is. just like Air America.

    Screw Daily KOS. They have NO credibility with free thinking progressive people.

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