Constitution Party aims to raise profile

Group that favors abolishing IRS seeks to expand locally

Eye on gubernatorial run

County chairman plans seminars in coming months

January 16, 2002|By Lesa Jansen | Lesa Jansen,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

The Constitution Party, formerly the U.S. Taxpayers Party and a group that wants to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, is holding informational meetings in Carroll County to expand its membership, part of a statewide effort to swell the party's ranks.

Westminster real estate agent Gary Hagerick is Carroll chairman for the party, which follows a strict interpretation of the Constitution.

"I think there's been a shift in emphasis in the last year or so to develop the party at the local level as opposed to the national," he said.

The party's Maryland Web site states that its goal is to run a gubernatorial candidate in Maryland this year and have candidates in as many local and state office elections as possible.

"I think the frustration is shared by a lot of people that the current two-party system is not meeting the needs of the middle and lower classes," said Hagerick. "The No. 1 problem and our major focus is lowering taxes."

The party believes that "the IRS has no jurisdiction over American citizens," said Steve Krukar, state chairman of the Maryland Constitution Party.

"Income tax has been wrongly forced on us. It's not that we want no taxes but we want the states to tax each citizen under a plan called apportionment. We believe taxes would be far less than they are today under apportionment because citizens would only be taxed when necessary," Krukar said.

The party was founded in 1992 by Howard Phillips. He was head of the Conservative Caucus for more than two decades as well as a Nixon administration official.

Phillips ran for president on the party ticket in 1992, 1996 and 2000. In the 2000 election, the party was on the ballot in 41 states and eligible for write-in candidates in six others. Phillips garnered 900 votes, much less than in 1996, when he received 3,400 votes. Party officials attribute the drop to the candidacy of Patrick J. Buchanan, whose views are similar to Phillips'.

Nationally, 100 candidates ran on the Constitution Party ticket for local and federal offices in 2000. In Maryland, party candidate Brian Saunders ran for the House of Representatives in the 8th District in Montgomery County. Saunders received more than 7,000 votes, 2.3 percent of the total, in an election won by Republican incumbent Constance A. Morella.

Now, state party officials want to expand membership at the local level in preparation for the state's gubernatorial and local elections.

Hagerick said fewer than two dozen people have shown up at informational meetings. The Carroll County party plans educational seminars on the Constitution in coming months to get the message to residents.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.