MACHIAS  — Ralph Nader’s lawsuit accusing Democrats of conspiring to keep him off the ballot is going before a judge in Maine’s Washington County.

A judge who’s scheduled to hear arguments Friday will decide whether the case proceeds. Defendants have asked the judge to toss it.

The lawsuit contends Democratic leaders conspired to use the courts to sabotage Nader and his running mate, the late Peter Camejo, in the 2004 presidential race.

In the end, Nader and Camejo, running as independents, appeared on the ballot in 34 states. George W. Bush won the election, and many Democrats blame Nader for siphoning away votes from Democrat John Kerry. Nader’s lawsuit targets Kerry’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and the Maine Democratic Party.

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