Dems certify nine candidates for February primary

Associated Press/December 17, 2003

Richmond, Va. -- The state Democratic Party on Wednesday certified nine candidates to appear on the ballot for the state's Feb. 10 presidential primary.

The order in which the candidates appear will be determined in a State Board of Elections drawing scheduled for Thursday.

Voters can choose among Sens. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina, U.S. Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Richard Gephardt of Missiouri, former Gen. Wesley Clark of Arkansas, former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and the Rev. Al Sharpton of New York.

The party also certified perennial presidential candidate Lyndon LaRouche to appear on the ballot, but Virginia delegates will not be pledged to him if he wins because he does not meet the Democratic Party's national requirements as a presidential nominee.

The Democratic National Committee says LaRouche doesn't meet its requirements for several reasons, including his "lack of commitment to Democratic Party principles and his extreme positions," said state party spokeswoman Laura Bland.

The party also requires nominees to be registered voters, and LaRouche is not, Bland said.

LaRouche served five years in prison for mail fraud and defaulting on more than $30 million in loans from campaign supporters, and Virginia law generally bars former felons from voting.

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