Friday, April 28, 2006

The Constitution Party

Constitution Party gains strength

By MATT GOURAS - 04/10/2006

HELENA — The conservative Constitution Party, which calls the Republican Party too liberal, has fielded a record 20 state legislative candidates for this fall’s election, a turnout that some Republicans worried could hurt their own party.

Although still little more than a political curiosity, the Montana Constitution Party is already influencing, at least to a small degree, campaign decisions made by Republicans this year.

In one legislative district, Republicans didn’t even offer a candidate because they didn’t want to split conservative votes with the Constitution Party candidate and end up handing a the seat to a Democrat.

And worse, Republicans say, the Constitution Party could steal enough conservative votes to give Democrats wins in two other districts.

With the House currently tied 50-50, even just one loss in a conservative area could really sting.

"I am seriously worried it could cost us a couple of seats, and as tight as things are in the Legislature, it could cost us a majority," said Chuck Denowh, executive director with the Montana Republican Party. "We not only have to promote our candidates, but we also have to let people know what the stakes are and how important it is to vote Republican."