Pro-Nader neighbors say they have no desire to take back the votes they cast for third-party candidates.
By BILL DURYEA
© St. Petersburg Times, published November 13, 2000
ST. PETERSBURG -- Sometime Election night, shortly after Florida's prized electoral votes were pulled out of the Gore column and placed in a lockbox marked "Who knows?," someone drove down 35th Avenue NE and pulled out all the Ralph Nader signs -- all four of them.
The retribution had begun.
When the sun came up Wednesday morning to reveal the theft, America still did not know who had been elected President. What was clear, however, was that Gore would have been picking out a tie for his inauguration if the merest fraction of Nader's Florida supporters had voted Democratic instead.
At offices around the state, co-workers pointed accusatory fingers. In jest . . . mostly. News columns were full of liberals vowing legislative retribution on Nader, the unrepentant spoiler. Suddenly, civic-minded idealists were being forced to make a public accounting of votes they had cast in the privacy of the polling booth.
But on "Green Street," known on city maps as 35th Avenue NE between Bay and Oak streets, there were no queasy morning-after regrets.
Their consciences are clear. They didn't steal the election from Gore, they say. If Gore lost it, blame his lackluster campaigning.
"I don't want Bush to be president," Chris Feuerhake said Wednesday evening as he came home from his shift at the Northside Station Post Office, "but I would not have changed my vote."
If Nader had not been on the ballot, Feuerhake said, he probably wouldn't have voted for anyone at all.
"A lot of Green people feel the same way," he said.
Don Goodrich's only disappointment is that Nader did not collect the 5 percent of the national vote he needed to garner federal matching funds in the next election.
"That was the whole point, empowering the Green Party," he said Thursday.
Antony Lineberger doesn't feel guilty in the least.
"I actually voted for Harry Browne," he said. "The only reason I put a Nader sign up was because I called up the Libertarians a week ago but they couldn't get me a (yard) sign for four weeks. I support all third parties."
Jeff Squires, a friend of Lineberger's who lives a few blocks away, slept just fine Wednesday night, thank you. He voted for Nader, but as a registered Republican (yes, you read that right) he said the Texas governor would have received his vote in a two-person race.
"It wasn't a wasted vote," Squires, 36, said. "A wasted vote is when you don't go to the polls."
If the residents of Nader Country have any regrets at all it's that the yard signs are gone.
"I wanted to keep one as a souvenir," Lineberger said.