Reform Party members seek national footing One goal is to qualify for federal funding in 2000

September 29, 1996|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE hTC

SCHAUMBURG, ILL. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS CONTRIBUTED TO THIS ARTICLE. — SCHAUMBURG, Ill. -- With their eyes on the presidential election in 2000, an ad hoc group of Reform Party supporters gathered here yesterday to brainstorm about how and when to transform the organization founded and financed by Ross Perot into a national party financed and governed by its members and a national committee.

"This is the beginning of an effort to create a national Reform Party," said Charles Riggs, 42, a New York supporter. Riggs said he would like Perot, the Reform Party's presidential candidate, to win 10 percent or more of the popular vote on Nov. 5 so that the party would be eligible for a substantial amount of federal campaign money for the race in 2000.

"We need a strong showing this year if this movement is to survive and thrive," Riggs said.

While yesterday's gathering was not sanctioned by Perot or most state party leaders, it was a public expression of the aspirations of many grass-roots supporters around the country.

The Reform Party, these adherents believe, can become a major political party in the next decade, but only if it makes the transition from being a candidate-centered party to one run by its members and a national committee.

The all-day meeting "isn't anti-Perot," said Nelisse Muga, a San Diego party member who supported Richard Lamm, the former governor of Colorado, in his unsuccessful bid for the new party's presidential nomination. "It's building the Reform Party."

The group, which would like to evolve into the party's national steering committee, had two major issues to debate: setting a date and a location for a national convention in 1997, and deciding whether it should seek "official recognition" of a Reform Party national committee from the Federal Election Commission.

Pub Date: 9/29/96

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