Ross Perot’s new Reform Party qualified Wednesday for California’s 1996 presidential ballot, registering 107,769 voters in a record 20 days in its bid to shake up the American political system, state election officials said.
Secretary of State Bill Jones said the Texas billionaire’s new party has passed the threshold of 89,007 valid registrations to qualify unofficially for the March 26 presidential primary ballot, with additional registrations still to be validated before the official Nov. 13 certification.
“It’s on to Ohio and then every state that allows the certification of a new political party this year,” said Russell Verney, national executive-director of Perot’s United We Stand America political organization.
It is unknown how much Perot spent on the effort; Verney said the group spent more than $350,000 on newspaper advertising and that some people were paid for each voter they registered, although the bulk of the work came from volunteers.
In 1992, when Perot appeared on the ballot as an independent, he spent about $60 million and received 19.2 million votes, or 19 percent of the total cast nationwide. In California, he got 20.6 percent of the total vote.
Perot has not said whether he will be the new party’s candidate next year, and Verney said he does not expect a decision from the conservative businessman until “well into the spring” after the beginning of a nomination process.
Verney said the party will seek to get on the ballot in all 38 states that certify new parties through petition drives or new registrations; the Reform candidate will run as an independent in the remaining 12 states.