SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — A new political party seeking to challenge the dominance of the Democrats and Republicans will appear on California’s presidential election ballot next year, the first time since 1995 that a party has been added.
Secretary of State Debra Bowen said Monday that Americans Elect had turned in more than 1 million signatures to secure a place on the June primary ballot. That makes California the 12th state in which the Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan group hopes to nominate candidates.
The group wants to offer a nonpartisan “unity” ticket. It describes itself not as a traditional political party but rather as a “second nominating process developed to choose a candidate that does not answer to any political party,” according to its press release.
Several online votes will be held until nominees are chosen during an online convention next June, said Ileana Wachtel, press secretary for Americans Elect.
Anyone can nominate a candidate, but eventually the nominee must choose to run on the ticket and select a running mate who either belongs to a different political party or is an independent. That ticket could appear on the presidential ballot in November 2012.
Critics have noted that the group’s status as a nonprofit group allows it to shield information about its donors, who include some wealthy benefactors. Wachtel said the group has more than 4,000 donors and that some of its major contributors are affiliated with the two major political parties. They fear recrimination from within their own party if their names are disclosed, she said.
“The backlash could be negative, that they’re supporting an organization that is taking the power away from the two parties and giving it to the people,” she said.
Would-be candidates also must win approval from a candidate certification committee that will vet candidates to ensure they are “of the stature that the other 44 presidents have been,” such as a sitting governor, member of Congress, chief executive of a large corporation, senior military official or president of a large union or university.
If they are not, the candidate would be required to show they are a legitimate candidate and get 50,000 online clicks of support.
The goal is to ensure “that this isn’t turning into a circus like it was in the California recall,” the 2003 special election that featured 135 candidates, including a porn star, a child actor and others seeking attention rather than political persuasion, Wachtel said.
Donald Trump, the attention-seeking CEO and TV personality who has repeatedly flirted with a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, tweeted last week he has received thousands of emails urging him to pursue the Americans Elect nomination.
Americans Elect also has qualified for the ballot in Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio and Utah.
(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)