Former Gov. Buddy Roemer of Louisiana is in an odd spot. He plans to continue his bid for the White House as a minor party candidate -- but he refuses to be called a spoiler.
Roemer has pulled in more supporters than any other declared candidate for the Americans Elect nomination in that organizations online primary and he is also a favorite for the Reform Party nomination. Yet, he will not classify himself as a spoiler to either Barack Obamas chances for a second term or Mitt Romneys opportunity to become president.
I run to win, Roemer insisted on Friday. I am not a single-issue candidate or someone who is merely trying to make a statement. I am not Ralph Nader. I am a former governor of a corrupt state that I helped clean up; I am a former four-term congressman who worked closely with President Reagan to help our country; and for the last 20 years I have been a successful businessman creating jobs.
First elected to the U.S. House as a Democrat in 1980, Roemer went on to become governor of the Pelican State in 1987. During his tenure in Baton Rouge, Roemer switched over to the GOP, but he lost out to former state Rep. David Duke, best known for his affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan, in the Republican primary in 1991.
After campaigning for John McCain in 2008, Roemer launched a dark horse bid for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2012 election cycle. Refusing to accept contributions of more than $100 and praising the Occupy Wall Street movement,Roemer made political reform the centerpiece of his campaign. While he focused on New Hampshire, home of the first primary, Roemer was shut out of the debates and stumbled in the Granite State, pulling 0.4 percent.
Roemer pulled out of the race for the Republican nomination and set his sites on winning the Americans Elect nomination as well as the Reform Party's. Announcing on Thursday that it will be on the ballot in Oregon, Americans Elect currently has access in 26 states and is in a strong position to make the line in around 20 more states.
The deadline to register for the Americans Elect online primary is Tuesday, and Roemer leads the pack of declared candidates for that groups nomination, with more than 5,575 supporters -- giving him a comfortable margin over former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is also running as the Justice Party candidate and who has more than 3,150 supporters. But neither Roemer nor Anderson has as many supporters as U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, who counts more than 9,225 supporters at the Americans Elect website. Paul is still running for the Republican presidential nomination and has expressed little interest in leaving the GOP.
Roemer is also angling for the Reform Partys nomination, which will be determined in August at a convention in Philadelphia. The former Louisiana governor faces a field of political unknowns for the Reform Party nod. While the Reform Party has backed prominent presidential candidates before -- Ross Perot in 1996, Pat Buchanan in 2000, Ralph Nader in 2004 -- Mississippi businessman Ted Weill, who has since passed away, won the nomination in 2008 but only appeared on the ballot in his home state, where he pulled fewer than 500 votes. Pointing to a number of reorganized state affiliations, Reform Party leaders insist they will have more ballot access in 2012.
Roemer insists that he is gaining momentum and points to a recent poll from Democracy Corps, a group affiliated with prominent Democrats, showing him at 7 percent.
This election is wide open, which is exactly as it should be for a nation in trouble with the nominee from both major parties addicted to and controlled by the special interest checks of the favored few who continue to steal our future to feed the greed of their present, Roemer said. I am currently polling at 7 percent in the most recent national survey and I am confident, once I receive the Americans Elect nomination, that I can attain 15 percent standing which will then qualify me to participate in the national debates this fall. Obama, Romney and Roemer.
Still, Roemer hedged his bets a little, insisting again that he has no desire to serve as a spoiler come November.
Again, I run to win, Roemer said. If, during the last month of the campaign, I discover I have no realistic chance of winning, I will ask my supporters to vote their conscience or for their second choice so the issue of spoiler can be dropped once and for all.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com or at (850) 727-0859.