The Ralph Nader campaign chose to create a local "Populist Party" in states where ballot access is more readily available by forming a new political party than by filing as an independent candidate. In Minnesota, Nader instead appeared under the desgination "A Better Life."
These "Populist Parties" had no connection either to the much earlier American political party of that name (except in a claimed shared idealism), or to the late-twentieth century Populist Party, which ran candidates such as David Duke and Bo Gritz and was widely regarded as a racist, white supremacist organization.
In Maryland, the Populist Party only succeeded in putting Nader on the ballot after challenges from the Maryland Board of Elections and the local Democratic Party. The PPMD submitted a petition of nearly 15,000 signatures on August 2, a number more than sufficient to achieve official party status and a ballot line, but this was rejected under a local balllot access law as a number of the signees had moved between counties since their voter registration. On September 20, the Maryland Court of Appeals found the restricting law unconstitutional and ordered the Board of Elections to accept the petition for Nader and Camejo; the PPMD's status as an official party was now guaranteed until after the 2006 elections.
Ralph Nader received 11,854 votes in Maryland in 2004.
It was expected that the new "Populist Party" organizations would exist only for the strictly limited purpose of achieving ballot access for Ralph Nader in 2004, and indeed, it is only in Maryland that the local organization has continued.
As of May 31, 2005, the total number of registered voters affiliated with the Populist Party in Maryland was twenty-two voters.
The party conceived a "Unity Campaign" with the idea of bringing together Green Party, Libertarian Party and Populist voters in support of a the fusion ticket of U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Zeese, a founder of the PPMD and 2004 press secretary for Ralph Nader
According to Christopher Driscoll, the party chair, the party will run candidates for governor, other statewide seats and at the local level for the State Assembly, county and municipal positions in the 2005 and 2006 elections under the slogan "Democracy and a Better Paycheck Too." The Populist Party of Maryland's rank and file and leaders, so far drawn mostly from the ranks of Ralph Nader supporters, have drafted a program similar to the Nader/Camejo 2004 platform, calling for an end to the "corporate crime wave", cleaning up widespread political corruption in the capital city of Annapolis, and enacting legislation favorable to employees, employee-owned businesses and small business owners.