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TIPOFF NADER MAY AGAIN BE THE SPOILER IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

Byline: RICK ORLOV

Ralph Nader's announcement last week that he plans yet another run for president has left Green Party members hopeful, Democrats fretful and Republicans gleeful.

Nader's candidacy four years ago has been blamed by Democrats for the election of President George W. Bush - much as billionaire H. Ross Perot drained Republican votes to lead to the election of Bill Clinton in 1992.

Perot's second run for the presidency had little impact four years later and the debate is on whether Nader's second run this year will affect the outcome.

Bob Mulholland, political director of the California Democratic Party, worries not about Nader's impact in the state but across the nation.

``It's in little states like New Hampshire where he had an impact in 2000,'' Mulholland said, adding that he believes the consumer advocate's prospects this year are much less. ``I would bet that 60 percent of the people who voted for him four years ago now regret that decision.''

Karen Hanretty of the state Republican Party said Nader could have an impact - even if he only polls 2 percent of the vote nationally.

``He will prove a distraction for Democrats,'' she said.

As for the Green Party, whose banner Nader carried four years ago, hopes are running high that Nader - who now is campaigning as an independent - will turn to the organization again to get on more state ballots.

Kevin McKeown, a Santa Monica city councilman who is a national member of the Green Party, said he hopes to see Nader nominated for president at the party's convention in Milwaukee this summer.

One problem: There are four other Green Party candidates for president - none of whom wants to step aside for Nader.

``I think (Nader's) frustrated with our deliberate grass-roots process,'' McKeown said.

If it was a segment on the David Letterman show, it would be called stupid political tricks.

Since it's Los Angeles City Hall, it is being referred to as ``The Passions of the Padilla.''

Council President Alex Padilla remains embarrassed over his being caught having invaded the inner offices of Mayor James Hahn to film a bit for an upcoming roast.

What has astounded Padilla and others is the reaction from the mayor's staff, which is vehement in its disgust and outrage, and the action the mayor's staff is taking.

Hahn's people have ordered a full-blown inquiry on the security personnel who allowed Padilla into the offices - as if a weekend security guard would deny anything to the council's president.

With the food-fight TV commercials being shown on behalf of Proposition 56 on Tuesday's ballot, it somehow seems appropriate that beer would be involved.

After all, what good is portraying the Legislature as a sort of stodgy ``Animal House'' without a keg.

Except in this case, the National Beer Wholesalers Association is coming out against Proposition 56.

Calling the proposition a ``blank check,'' the trade group is sending out beer coasters to bars across the state urging drinkers to oppose the measure.

Their concern is obvious. If the measure passes, the Legislature could pass a budget with a 55 percent vote rather than the two-thirds now required - and it also would reduce the threshold to increase taxes on beer.

Also looking to Tuesday's election for some political traction is state Treasurer Phil Angelides.

Angelides has been one of the few to come out against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and his backing of Propositions 57 and 58, the $15 billion bond issue and the related cap on future spending.

Angelides has started a Web site, www.standupforcalifornia.com, in which he features pictures of a sinister Schwarzenegger from some of his movies.

``The purpose of this Web site is to monitor our state's budgetary and policy-making process,'' Angelides insists. Of course, he mentions nothing of his own plans to run for governor in two years, presumably against Schwarzenegger.

Councilwoman Wendy Greuel raised some eyebrows last week.

Greuel, who has emerged as one of the leaders in trying to clean up city government with her proposal to ban commissioners from fund raising, held her own $500-a-person fund raiser last week at the City Club in downtown Los Angeles.

To her credit, no city commissioners were on the list of those involved in the event to raise money for her office-holder account.

However, it did include some of the top givers in Los Angeles, such as Eli Broad and David Fleming, along with a host of lobbyists who do work in the city.

``It's all part of being an elected official,'' Greuel said. ``Part of it is you have to raise money and I was careful to make sure no commissioners were involved.''

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

rick.orlov(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 1, 2004
Words:783
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