Uber Conservatives

Constitution Party comes to Boise to form national agenda


If you count yourself among those whose political sensibilities lean to the right of Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, then rejoice: The Constitution Party is coming to town.

The party, which offers a home to those disillusioned by the liberal leanings of the mainstream Republican party, will hold its annual national conference here April 20-21.

"There's a lot of unhappy people out there," said Mary Starrett, communications director for the Constitution Party. "People who have believed the promises of the Republican Party for so long, but they're no longer a sure thing."

Starrett said the party counts roughly 367,000 national members, making it one of the fastest-growing third parties in the country. In the 2006 general elections, the party ran candidates on ballots in 17 states, including several in Idaho, and Starrett said the party hopes to be represented in all 50 states in 2008.

The party scored one victory in the last election cycle, electing Montana State Representative Rick Jore.

In Idaho, First Congressional District candidate Paul Smith finished with 1.06 percent of the vote, and Second District candidate Travis Hendrick garnered 1.18 percent. Candidate for governor Marvin Richardson, who legally changed his name to Pro Life, earned 1.62 percent and lieutenant governor candidate William Charles Wellisch finished with 2.35 percent.

While party numbers may be growing, the impact in Idaho is tough to measure. Professor Richard Kinney, who teaches a political parties class at Boise State University, was unable to comment on the Constitution Party because he didn't know anything about the organization. Several other political science faculty members were equally uninformed.

Touting a foundation of Christian values, the Constitution Party champions conservative causes, including closing international borders, immigration reform, outlawing abortion and it is staunchly against gay rights.

One of the group's fundamental goals is, "its work to restore our government to its Constitutional limits and our law to its Biblical foundations," according to its official Web site,

The weekend gathering at Boise's DoubleTree Hotel will include several guest speakers, headlined by Chris Simcox, co-founder of the Minuteman Project and president of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps, a group of citizens who patrol the Mexican border in an effort to stop illegal immigration.

Starrett said she expects roughly 200 people to attend the two-day event, including national committee leaders, state party representatives and party supporters.

As to the question of why Boise, Starrett said the national committee thought it was an ideal location.

"We do have a presence in Idaho," she said. "Everyone seemed to agree and want to go."

But she added that Idaho's strong Republican base wasn't the deciding factor.

"It doesn't really matter what state," Starrett said. "There's such a [large group] disenfranchised with the Republican Party and Democrat Party."

During their time in Boise, party leaders will discuss the overall platform for the upcoming election season, as well as how to further build party numbers.