Rick Jore, Constitution Party nominee for a seat in Montana’s State House of Representatives, won the 2004 election, becoming the first State legislator in the nation to be elected on the Constitution Party ticket.
Jore is not a newcomer to the Montana Legislature. He was elected to the Montana House as Republican in 1994, 1996, and 1998.
A leading conservative in the Montana House, Jore left the Republican Party in 2000 and joined the Constitution Party because he did not see the Republicans changing direction to restore Constitutional principles. “My concern is that the Republican Party simply takes conservatives for granted,” he said. “The inclination is generally to compromise toward the Democrats. The conservatives are simply left out in the cold.”
In the 2000 election, Jore sought to retain his seat as the Constitution Party nominee, but was defeated by 54 votes. In 2002, he ran again as the nominee of the Constitution Party, but was defeated by the Democrat who received 1,539 votes (49 percent) to Jore’s 1,339 (43 percent). The Republican candidate cornered only 245 votes (8 percent) and was the spoiler keeping Jore out.
This year, Jore ran again in a highly competitive three way race. When the votes were counted on election night, Jore led by only one vote with 1,556 to the Democrat’s 1,555, and the Republican’s 1,107.
There were seven provisional ballots to be counted, and they were not opened until the afternoon of Monday, November 8. When the provisional ballots were counted, Jore received 3 votes, the Democrat 2, the Republican 1, and one was unmarked. Thus, Jore was elected by two votes: 1,559 for Jore, 1,557 for the Democrat, and 1,108 for the Republican.
Jore of the Constitution Party returns to the Montana House of Representatives in a powerful position to determine the partisan organization of the House which has 50 Republicans, 49 Democrats, and 1 Constitution Party member, Rick Jore. The newly elected Governor of Montana is a Democrat.
An experienced legislator, Jore will use his leverage for the benefit of conservatives and taxpayers. Meanwhile, both establishment parties are courting him, for it is he who will decide their destinies when the Legislature organizes.
CONSTITUTION PARTY GAINS STRENGTH WITH PEROUTKA, BALDWIN
Constitution Party members have cause to celebrate. Their 2004 presidential ticket—Michael A. Peroutka for President and Chuck Baldwin for Vice President—won increased voter support over the party’s returns in the 2000 presidential election.
Nationally, the Peroutka-Baldwin ticket received 132,067 votes compared to 101,278 for the Constitution Party’s 2000 candidates. The Peroutka vote is particularly significant when compared to the decline in voter support for other minority parties and candidates. Ralph Nader and the presidential tickets of the Green and Libertarian parties all received less votes in 2004 than in 2000. The Constitution Party’s vote was up 30 percent, while the combined Nader-Green Party vote declined 83 percent, and the Libertarian vote dropped 2 percent.
The Constitution Party’s Peroutka-Baldwin ticket was on the ballot in 36 States. The Libertarian presidential ticket qualified for the ballot in 48 States, and either the Green Party ticket or Ralph Nader as an Independent were on the ballot in 39 States. Thus the Peroutka-Baldwin voter gains are particularly impressive.
Peroutka’s largest vote came from California, where he received 21,057 votes, compared to 16,273 for the American Independent (Constitution) Party’s 2000 nominees. The largest percentages of total vote recorded for Peroutka came from Utah, Alaska, and Idaho.
The Constitution Party and its State affiliates ran candidates for the U. S. Senate in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Utah, and candidates for Governor in Missouri and Montana. Richard Winger, publisher of Ballot Access News says:
“I am impressed this year, for the first time, the Constitution Party has more candidates for U. S. Senator than the Green party, more candidates for Governor than the Green party, and more candidates for state legislature than the Green Party.”
Thom Holmes of Oklahoma, member of the Constitution Party’s national Executive Committee, says that the 2004 election has “opened up a window of opportunity for party growth like our party has never experienced before.” He says:
“A very encouraging result of this year’s campaign is that we have been receiving tons of email into the national party from new people that want to get busy building the Constitution Party in their areas. Just to give you a feel for the response, on election day the Peroutka website had nearly 57,000 visitors….These are people who learned about the party from seeing Michael’s name on their election ballots and wanted to check out who we are….The enthusiasm and excitement across the country that has resulted from the campaign is truly incredible.”
CONSTITUTION PARTY STATE RESULTS
Candidates of the Constitution Party, and its State affiliates, chalked up some impressive vote totals in the 2004 election. Here are some of the highlights:
James N. Clymer, Constitution Party national chairman, received 213,986 votes for U.S. Senator, in his race against liberal Republican incumbent Arlen Specter. Specter spent much of his campaign time denouncing Clymer, and President George Bush was so concerned about Clymer that he sent letters to many Pennsylvania Republicans urging them to vote for “my friend” Arlen Specter.
In Nevada, Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen of the Independent American Party received 196,799 votes for Justice of the Nevada Supreme Court. Running against an incumbent, Hansen secured almost 26 percent of the vote. The establishment politicians and media were so afraid of a Hansen victory that they deluged the State with negative attacks on him during the final days of the campaign.
Hansen’s sister, Janine, a member of the Constitution Party’s national Executive Committee, received 10,000 votes for U. S. Representative.
Two Independent American Party candidates for the Nevada State Legislature made impressive showings. Mark Andrews received almost 36 percent of the vote for a seat in the State Assembly; and Cathie Profant almost 31 percent for a seat in the State Senate.
Voter registration in the Independent American Party has doubled since the fall months of 2000. IAP registration was then 15,754. Today that registration has grown to 31,517, almost 3 percent of the total statewide voter registration. The IAP is the third largest political party in Nevada, and remains ballot qualified for the 2006 election.
Patrick Tyndall, Con-stitution Party nominee for the U.S. Senate, received over 13,000 votes. In South Carolina’s sixth congressional district, Gary McCloud, who ran on both the Constitution and Republican tickets, received 78,435 votes, 33 percent of the total. The South Carolina Constitution Party remains ballot qualified for 2006.
In Michigan, to maintain ballot qualified status, a statewide candidate of the U.S. Taxpayers Party was required to receive at least 17,003 votes in the 2004 election. All of the party’s statewide candidates far exceeded this total.
Crystal Van Sickle, running for the Michigan State Board of Trustees, received 129,845 votes. Gail Graeser and Stephanie Poortenga received 92,854 and 79,463 votes respectively for the State Board of Education. Karen Adams and Joe Sanger received 144,968 and 73,618 votes respectively for the University of Michigan Board of Regents; and Philip Adams received 97,627 votes for the Wayne State Board of Governors.
The U.S. Taxpayer’s Party also made some enviable showings at the local level: Carl G. Oehling, almost 12 percent of the vote for Sheriff of Berrien County; Scott Bolin 21 percent for Weesaw Township Supervisor; Rick L. Bacon, almost 21 percent for Lenawee County Commissioner; and Gerald Van Sickle, over 31 percent for Norman Township Supervisor.
Joe Sanger, Constitution Party treasurer, is elated with the results, saying: “Our leading statewide candidate doubled the number of votes received by our leading statewide candidate of two years ago. In most races we did better than the Greens and Libertarians.”
Richard D. Hake, running for Attorney General, was the Constitution Party’s top statewide vote-getter in Oregon’s 2004 election. Hake’s vote was 14,874. Dean Wolf made the best showing of the party’s congressional nominees, with 12,882 votes, just under 4 percent.
Don Ross, the Constitution Party’s nominee for a seat in the State House of Representatives, won 23 percent of the vote in his district; Don Loyd received 16 percent in his race for State Senator; and State Chairman Bob Eskstrom cornered 17 percent of the vote for County Commissioner in Columbia County. The Oregon Constitution Party remains ballot qualified for the 2006 election.
Idaho is another State in which the Constitution Party remains ballot qualified. In the 2004 Idaho legislative races, several Constitution Party candidates made impressive showings: Gary Schulte, district 2, 26 percent; Marvin Richardson, district 11, 22 percent; Warren Yadon, district 27, 17 percent; and Anthony Stevens, district 34, 14 percent.
Gary Van Horn, the Utah Constitution Party’s nominee for U.S. Senator received 16,348 votes, just 286 short of the number needed to keep the party on the ballot without petitioning. In at least two legislative districts, the Constitution Party candidates received more votes than the difference between the winning Democrats and the losing Republicans “Those two losses to the GOP, will not go unnoticed by the liberal GOP leaders,” says Frank Fluckiger, Utah Constitution Party State Chairman.
Utah gave presidential nominee Michael Peroutka the highest percentage of vote which he received in any State. Says Fluckiger:
“Nationally the Constitution Party was the only third party whose presidential candidate got more votes in 2004 than in 2000. This is very significant, especially when one realizes that the Constitution Party was on the ballot in five less states this year than in 2000.”
Don Griffin, the Missouri Constitution Party’s able nominee for U.S. Senator, received 10,368 votes, and Bob Wells, the party’s nominee for Governor, received 11,262. The Constitution Party’s top statewide vote getter was Chris Fluharty for State Treasurer with 17, 368 votes.
Some Constitution Party legislative candidates did well. In races for State Representative, Randy Hunter cornered almost 11 percent of the vote; Lee Wollgast, almost 6 percent; and John Thrower, 5 percent.
South Dakota’s Constitution Party retains its ballot qualified status for the 2006 election. Steve Willis running for the Public Utilities Commission received 5,091 votes. Scott Bartlett, Constitution Party state chairman, received 3 percent of the vote in a race for a State Senate seat.
Thomas Trump, the Maryland Constitution Party candidate for U.S. Senator received over 8,000 votes; and Steve Krukar, running for the U.S. House of Representatives, received 1,727. The Maryland party retains its ballot qualified status for the 2006 election.
In Connecticut, the affiliate of the national Constitution Party is the Concerned Citizens Party. Timothy Knibbs, its nominee for U.S. Senator, received 11,204 votes, and in a race for a U.S. House seat, Wildey Judd Moore cornered 2,439 votes.
Florida’s Constitution Party retains ballot qualified status for the 2006 election. This year, Jack McLain, a member of the party’s national Executive Committee, received 4,726 votes in his race for a U.S. House seat [2 percent of the total vote].
Douglas Campbell, American Constitution Party nominee for Colorado’s U.S. Senate seat, received 17, 137 votes. In races for the U.S. House of Representatives, the party’s top vote getters were Clyde Harkins with 3 percent, and George Lilly with 2 percent.
Dr. Don Grundmann, U.S. Senate nominee of the American Independent Party, received 64,844 votes. AIP candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, Gordon Michael Mego and Diane Templin, received 2,982 votes and 3,612 votes respectively. Mego’s vote was over 2 percent of the total; Templin’s almost 2 percent.
The Peroutka-Baldwin presidential ticket received 21,057 votes in California, the largest number of votes the ticket received in any State. Peroutka achieved almost 5,000 more California votes than did the party’s presidential ticket in 2000. California’s AIP provided Peroutka one of every six votes he received in the nation.
In a local race for City Council in Ridgecrest (Kern County), AIP candidate Al Huey received 2,880 votes, a good showing, although a little short of the number needed to win. The American Independent Party is encouraging its members to seek local offices.
The American Independent Party also played an important part in the defeat of Proposition 62 which would have effectively excluded minority party candidates from general election ballots.
As of October 18, 2004, California’s American Independent Party had 326,763 registered voters, just a hair less than 2 percent of the total statewide voter registration. This assures the party continued ballot qualified status, and makes the A.I.P., and thus the Constitution Party, the third largest political party in the country.
AP, Billings Gazette, Nov. 30
HELENA—The outcome of a Western Montana legislative race and the balance of power in the state House remained unresolved Monday after a daylong recount by Lake County officials.
The recount board recessed and planned to reconvene today to review results in one precinct, where vote totals appeared not to match the number of ballots cast in the Nov. 2 election.
Before calling it quits for the day, the board’s recount tentatively showed Rick Jore of Ronan, the Constitution Party candidate, with 1,560 votes and Democrat Jeanne Windham of Polson with 1,559 votes. The initial count, certified in the statewide canvass last week, had Jore winning 1,559 votes to 1,557.
The question of who wins House District 12 is critical to the Legislature, because it will determine the political split in the House.
If Jore wins, Republicans would control the House with a 50-49 advantage over Democrats. If Windham wins, the two parties each would have 50 members and share power in the 2005 Legislature.
Although a Democrat would serve as speaker because that is the party of Gov.-elect Brian Schweitzer, the House committees would be evenly split between Republicans and Democrats.
Democrats already have a 27-23 majority in the Senate next year.
Windham said Monday she plans to challenge in court the recount board’s decision to count five disputed ballots for Jore. Those ballots had markings for both him and the Republican candidate, Jack Cross, who finished a distant third.
Windham said state law requires ballots to be discarded if a voter’s intent is unclear and counted for no candidate.
“It’s not clear at all who their vote is for,” she said.
With the Legislature set to convene Jan. 3, Windham said she likely would go directly to the Montana Supreme Court to save time.
“There’s something larger than House District 12 and who wins and who loses,” she said. “It ties up the Legislature. This is something that has to be resolved very quickly.”
Jore did not return a phone message left at his home.
The recount board is composed of three Lake County commissioners, Paddy Trusler and Dave Stipe, both Republicans, and Clerk and Recorder Ruth Hodges, a Democrat.
House Majority Leader Roy Brown, R-Billings, who will be speaker if Republicans control the House, said he will make committee assignments today based on the assumption that Jore ultimately will be certified the winner.
“We can’t wait forever for another court challenge,” he said.