Ross Perot and grass-roots organizers for his new political party say they are well on their way to successfully meeting Tuesday’s deadline for signing up enough voters to put the party on the 1996 Presidential ballot in California, the nation’s richest trove of electoral votes.
As of Friday night, more than 66,000 of the required 89,007 voters had agreed to join the new party and their names had been forwarded to state election officials, the organizers here reported Saturday morning.
Perot, in a television interview from Dallas that will be broadcast today in California, boasted that, with hardly any exception, the sign-up process was “going fine” in the state with 54 electoral votes that any successful Presidential candidate must hope to carry.
“We’re going to get California done,” he adds.
But what if the drive should fail in the end?
“We’ll come back and run our candidate by petition, like we did in 1992,” Perot replied in the interview, taped for the weekly news program, “This Week in California.”
He reiterated in the interview that the new party is not meant to be a vehicle for a second Presidential run by him, following his strong showing in 1992. But, once again, he did not flatly rule out another candidacy.
According to California’s top elections official, Secretary of State Bill Jones, the Perot party drive has “picked up steam” and “most likely will increase.” But Jones said the state had not been able to count and verify all the signatures received thus far and refused to predict whether the Tuesday deadline would be successfully met.
Perot announced last month that he planned to form a political party for 1996. The party, according to Perot, will formally nominate and run a presidential candidate and will seek to influence congressional elections by siding with major party candidates.
It will be known as the Independence Party in most states. But in states like California, where that name already is taken, it will be known as the Reform Party.
Russell Verney, one of Perot’s top political aides, said efforts also are under way to get the new party on the ballot in other states, some of which have dedlines stretching well into next year.