Constitution Party Candidates Preach
Conservative Message in Uphill Campaigns
By Samson Habte
This story initially incorrectly stated the amount of money that has been raised by 5th
District congressional candidate Steven J. Krukar. According to an Oct. 23
filing with the Federal Election Commission, Krukar had raised $6,400 for his
campaign and still had $1,400 on hand. The total has been corrected in this Web update.
Capital News Service
Thursday, Oct. 28, 2004; corrected Nov. 2, 2004
WASHINGTON - After a court ruling that
eased ballot access for third parties, the Constitution Party heads into
Tuesday's elections with three candidates on the Maryland ballot for the
first time ever -- and a mission to save the country from ruin.
"The goal is more important than building a party -- it is about
restoring America," said Steven J. Krukar, the Constitution Party nominee in
the 5th District congressional race.
Neither Krukar, the party's Senate hopeful, Thomas M. Trump, nor party
presidential nominee Michael A. Peroutka expects to win next week. But none
of them intends to give up the fight, either.
Their message needs to be heard, Krukar said, because "the nation is
going off a cliff, and I don't know if it can survive much longer." He and
others said the goal is not electoral victory but voter education -- at
least this year.
Most political observers said it is good that the Constitution Party
candidates do not expect to win -- because it's not going to happen.
"Their agenda is not going to fly in Maryland -- it might fly in the
Bible Belt, but Maryland is not the Bible Belt," said Blair Lee, a political
columnist with the Gazette.
That agenda includes Constitution Party claims that most actions taken by
the federal government -- everything from collecting income taxes to
building roads -- are illegal and unconstitutional. Equally important is
that voters understand that the founding fathers intended our laws to be
crafted according to Judeo-Christian principles.
John Lofton, a spokesman for Peroutka's campaign, said that American
presidents who vow to protect the Constitution are "lying to God" when they
exceed their constitutional authority, and that has profound implications
for the nation.
"That's why you see planes crashing into buildings, because they're lying
to God and we are under God's judgment," Lofton said.
Peroutka, a Millersville lawyer, was nominated at a party convention in
June while Krukar and Trump were recruited by the state party after a 2003
court ruling that lifted cumbersome petition requirements for third-party
candidates to get on the ballot.
Under the old system, candidates had to collect thousands of signatures
to get on the ballot. Under the new rules, once a party collects enough
petitions to be officially recognized, it can nominate candidates without
making them collect their own petitions.
The Constitution Party's long-term goal is to cultivate successful state
parties and run strong candidates, said national Chairman James Clymer. He
insists that will only happen if candidates spend a lot of time -- and, more
importantly-- a lot of money on their campaigns.
"You've got to run a smart campaign and part of that is spending money,"
said Clymer, who has raised slightly over $130,000 in his bid for a Senate
seat from Pennsylvania.
Clymer, who got 6 percent in a recent poll, said it would be hard for
candidates to overcome their obscurity if they were not willing to raise
money for advertising and literature.
Trump, a Baltimore financial analyst, had not raised the $5,000 that would require
him to file
with the Federal Election Commission.
Krukar, a flight attendant from Bowie, raised $6,400 for his
campaign, according to an Oct. 23 filing.
Trump, who does not accept donations, said he is relying on word of
mouth, free media and Web site traffic to reach constituents. He complained
that he was kept out of a debate on Maryland Public Television when debate
sponsors limited participation to those candidates who had received at least
15 percent support in a poll.
Clymer said his participation in a Pennsylvania debate raised his profile
and even gave him the opportunity to mention his campaign's Web site on
camera -- an opportunity that Trump wishes he had.
"If I had television coverage during the debates it would have been
easier for me to get my message across," Trump said.
He and Krukar said they hope to peel voters away from the Republicans in
their races, but a Maryland GOP official said the Constitution Party "is not
a factor for us."
"Today's Republican voter realizes we are a group built on a broad base
of issues, and that we have candidates and officials who reflect that broad
spectrum," said Deborah Martinez, a state GOP spokeswoman.
Many Constitution Party members say they are former Republicans or, as
Lofton says, "recovering Republicans, with a lot to recover from."
Krukar, a volunteer on Republican Ellen Sauerbrey's failed 1994
gubernatorial bid, switched in 1995 and has not looked back. He holds a dim
view of President Bush and Democratic challenger John Kerry.
"The only difference is Kerry will lead the country over a cliff at 100
mph, while Bush will lead the country over a cliff at 60 mph," he said.
2004 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of
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