Pick Of The Litter

A Shiite sheik, right, and a Sunni sheik, left, lock hands during Friday Prayers in front of the Mohammed al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Friday Dec. 8, 2006.
AP Photo/Hussein Malla
In Iowa, Pat Buchanan's name was drawn from a bowl; in Montana, a film canister containing John Hagelin's name was selected. Thus were resolved two of many battles over who will be listed on states' ballots under the Reform Party banner in November.

Two weeks after the party's national convention was supposed to choose a nominee, the battle continues between Buchanan, the former Republican, and Hagelin, the Natural Law candidate embraced by supporters of Reform Party founder Ross Perot as a way of blocking Buchanan.

Each candidate claims he's the party's legitimate nominee. And state election officials, facing deadlines for printing ballots, are caught in the middle.

In California, election officials withdrew Buchanan's name after briefly recognizing him as the state's official Reform candidate. That leaves no Reformer on the ballot in the nation's largest state, with just one week to go before the deadline for parties to officially identify their nominees.

Befitting the nasty split in the party, there was a shouting match in the hallway outside Iowa Secretary of State Chet Culver's office.

Buchanan backer Ed Moses claimed to be the official leader of the state's Reform Party and labeled documents filed by Hagelin backers as "bogus."

"I'm tired of this fiasco," said Moses.

"He is coming here to rabble rouse," grumbled Simi Summer, a Hagelin backer.

"God was with us," shouted Moses, after Buchanan's name was drawn.

As a result of the drawing, Buchanan will be listed as the Reform Party candidate and Hagelin will be on the ballot as "nominated by petition."

"We're not taking anyone off the ballot," said Culver.

In Montana, Secretary of State Mike Cooney pulled Hagelin's name from a ballot box, putting him on the ballot. Both sides opposed the drawing, and a lawsuit is expected.

In Kentucky and South Carolina, the deadlines are looming but election officials are waiting to see if the Reform Party itself can sort through the issue.

In Alabama, both will be listed as independents, and in Minnesota the Reform Party is considered a minor party, though Gov. Jesse Ventura was once a member.

"There is no protection for the minor parties," said Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer. "This is a very unique circumstance." Both men will be listed, she said.

In Michigan, Board of Elections spokesman Chris Thomas said, "We're trying to get clarification who is the real candidate."

Hagelin started out this year as the candidate of the Natural Law Party, and West Virginia election officials say that's how he will be listed on the ballot.

That's the case in Ohio, too, where Buchanan was still gathering signatures in hopes of getting on the ballot as an independent.

In New York, Buchanan backers had submitted petitions with more than 30,000 signatures, double the number needed to be listed on te ballot under the Reform party banner.

Hagelin was first to file in North Carolina, but Buchanan's forces are challenging that move and the state Elections Board must resolve the dispute, with a court fight possible.

In Utah, a supporter submitted Buchanan's name as the party's nominee, and that's how he'll be listed on the ballot.

Hawaii officials are seeking a legal opinion on handling filings from a split party, but so far only Buchanan has filed petitions.

Most polls have shown Buchanan with just 1 or 2 percent support nationally. Hagelin has less than that. Perot won 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 election and 8 percent in 1996. He declined to run this year.