Supporters of imprisoned Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. have delivered signatures to the state Administrative Board of Election Laws petitioning for his inclusion on Maryland's March 3 presidential primary ballot.
LaRouche spokeswoman Debra Hanania-Freeman of Baltimore said the petition campaign resulted from the refusal of Maryland's secretary of state, Winfield M. Kelly Jr., to include the candidate on the ballot -- which she claimed was "an abuse of power."
Under Maryland law, the secretary of state decides on the basis of news media recognition whether a candidate's name should appear on the presidential primary ballot. Among 34 who sought inclusion, only six Democrats and two Republicans were certified by Mr. Kelly -- and since then the Democratic field has dropped to five because of the withdrawal this week of Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder.
Democrats guaranteed a place on the ballot are former California Gov. Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown, Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton, Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, and former Massachusetts Sen. Paul E. Tsongas; the Republicans are President Bush and syndicated columnist Patrick Buchanan.
Ms. Freeman said LaRouche supporters -- required to deliver 400 signatures of registered voters in each of the state's eight congressional districts in order to get their candidate on the ballot -- filed nearly 8,000 signatures with the election office.
An administrative aide in the election office could not verify the number of signatures delivered Wednesday, but said they were sorted by county and sent to local election boards for verification.
According to Ms. Freeman, the LaRouche campaign also plans to field slates of delegates for the national convention in every Maryland county.
In criticizing Mr. Kelly's decision, Ms. Freeman said "LaRouche has had more press coverage and unquestionably has greater name recognition than any other of the announced Democratic candidates."
LaRouche is serving a 15-year prison sentence for fraud and tax evasion.
Last month, the Federal Election Commission denied public financing for LaRouche's 1992 presidential bid, saying he had a
history of fraudulent fund raising.