HARTFORD—(Updated) Four-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader visited Ken Krayeske’s Park Street headquarters Saturday morning to stump for the Green Party candidate who once ran his 2004 youth vote effort.
Nader, 76, who was named one of Life Magazine’s 100 most influential Americans of the 20th century, said he has no plans to run for office again. But he said he does plan to continue endorsing people he has worked with and knows well.
“Ken Krayeske has a record of challenging concentrated power,” Nader said. “He’s put his career on the line. He’s put his fortitude on the line in many ways.”
Krayeske, an activist and journalist, recently passed the Connecticut Bar exam and will be sworn in on Nov. 1, the day before the election. He is challenging U.S. Rep. John Larson, Republican Ann Brickley, and Socialist Action candidate Chris Hutchinson.
“I only support people who have worked with me,” Nader said.
And, according to Nader, Krayeske wants the kind of changes people in Connecticut want.
“A majority people in Connecticut, as well as the rest of the country, want single-payer,” Nader opined. In a single-payer health care system, all medical fees and payments would be paid through the federal government.
The Tea Party movement formed largely in opposition to the national health care reform bill, which fell far short of a single-payer health care system and in the end didn’t even include a public option.
Nader also said Krayeske wants college tuition to be affordable and pay for it by cutting the “wasteful, bloated military budget that even Secretary [of Defense] Gates is trying to do something about.”
Krayekse also wants to crackdown on the financial industry, Wall Street, and the foreclosure mess, Nader said.
In addition, Nader said Krayeske wants to talk about things that make other candidates uncomfortable, such as “electoral law reform.”
“He wants more access for third parties to give voters more choices on the ballots. He succeeded in getting several debates with the major party candidates for the First District, including John Larson. I don’t know any Green Party candidate in the country that has managed to get four or five debates scheduled where he can demonstrate his capabilities, his experience, and his humane value systems,” said Nader.
However, Larson was one of the main sponsors of the Fair Elections Now legislation, which would create a public campaign financing system similar to Connecticut’s. The campaigns that meet low-dollar-donation thresholds would receive a grant from an account funded by the sale of the broadcast spectrum.
Nader said he would like to see a voluntary system where people could check off a box on their tax forms and donate for example $300. All ballot qualified candidates would qualify for a share of that funding. He said all candidates should be provided an equal amount of free time on television as a condition of their Federal Trade Commission license to operate.
“I have a little advice for Congressman John Larson,” Nader said. “He’s gotta be more himself and less subject to the dictates of the Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives.”
Nader seemed to applaud Larson’s vote against the war, but said he voted for the appropriation for the war and he “supported it because he’s number four in the hierarchy of the House.”
Nader said that’s why candidates like Krayeske are needed to push the incumbent and to build support for a third party.
Nader said his support of Krayeske goes even deeper than the issues. He said it’s Krayeske’s “emotional intelligence,” and “fire in the belly,” which sets him apart from other candidates.
During a book signing last November in West Hartford, Green Party members were courting Nader to run for U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd’s seat. Nader told them he was listening, but in the end politely declined.
As far as the U.S. Senate race is concerned, Nader had a few unflattering things to say about Republican candidate Linda McMahon, whom he said was responsible for outsourcing jobs to China and treating her wrestlers poorly. As for Democratic candidate Richard Blumenthal, Nader said “he’s brought a lot of good lawsuits.”
“He’s certainly in the top-tier of bringing lawsuits,” Nader, a consumer advocate, said. “He’d make a lot better senator than the wrestling queen, but John Mertens would make a good senator, too.”
Mertens is one of five candidates running for the U.S. Senate. He’s already secured the endorsement of the Connecticut for Lieberman Party and is seeking the endorsement of the Green Party.
“If you’re not willing to run and lose, you’ll never build to win,” Nader said.