California group launches campaign to put Gore's name on primary ballots
Al Gore still hasn't definitively ruled out a bid for the 2008 Democratic nomination for president -- and until he does, one hopeful California group is assuming no news is good news.
California Draft Gore, a grassroots political action committee, has hatched a plan to get their reluctant candidate off of theoretical fantasy polls and onto a real-life primary ballot.
Capitalizing on a provision of the state election law which allows for any name to be placed on a ballot provided enough signatures in favor of that candidate are secured, volunteers will begin scrambling next week to get 26,500 registered Democrats -- 500 from each of California's 53 congressional districts -- to sign off on the former vice president before a Dec. 4 deadline.
If all goes well, Gore's name will appear on ballots throughout the state when California's presidential primary is held in February of next year.
"We now have volunteers in all 53 districts," group spokesman and organizer Roy Gayhart told RAW STORY. In some districts, Gayhart says, the initiative has as many as 50 people on call, ready to gather signatures.
"Some places it will be a situation where each person can just go get 10 signatures, and then they can move on to help elsewhere," he said, adding that should Gore enter the race, "we'll turn over our volunteers to the campaign."
The group hasn't received any word from the Gore camp regarding their plan, but among die-hard fans desperate for a positive reading from the political tea leaves, that's not necessarily a bad thing.
"In 2003, Gore asked us to stand down," Gayhart pointed out, but after contacting the Gore camp with their plans this year, the initiative has received no such suggestion this time around. "Everything he's doing appears to be leaving open the possibility."
In a May interview with Time, Gore didn't categorically deny he would consider a run, but did say he had "fallen out of love with politics," and that he wasn't "convinced the presidency is the highest and best role I could play."
Asked later in the same interview about what it would take to get him to declare, he responded "I can't say because I'm not looking for it. But I guess I would know it if I saw it."
California volunteers believe their ballot initiative may be the thing to make Gore think twice.
"Until he gives a Sherman, we'll keep going" promised Gayhart, referring to the famous pledge from Civl War General William Tecumseh Sherman who vowed, amid rumors of his own presidential candidacy, that "If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve."
"We're not trying to pressure him to run. We're planning to inspire him," Ben Cooper, a coordinator for the effort in San Diego said in a press release from the group.
If Gore does get inspired to join the Democratic field, an announcement could come soon.
"It's logical he would decide in October," Gayhart said, citing next week's planned announcement of the 2008 Nobel Prize winner, for which Gore has been nominated in recognition of his work in raising awareness of global warming. Some believe he's likely to win.
"If we get to November and he hasn't announced, we're going to have a momentum issue," the organizer conceded, although he made clear that even if the candidate himself continues to tarry, his name at the very least will be in play.
"Gore has the right to say 'take my name off," Gayhart acknowledged, "But until he does, he's on the ballot."