Big Test For LaRouches Candidates Coming Up In State Primaries
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Primaries in the next eight days in Texas, Indiana, Ohio and North Carolina will offer the first gauge of whether victories by disciples of political extremist Lyndon LaRouche in Illinois six weeks ago were a fluke or a forecast.
Democratic Party leaders in these four states dismiss the LaRouche candidates, who are running for elected offices ranging from city governments to U.S. senator.
″I believe Illinois was the beginning of the end for them,″ Ohio Democratic Party Chairman James Ruvolo said.
But Illinois Democrats also scoffed at LaRouche candidates - until March 18, when backers of the bizarre LaRouche philosophy won nomination for lieutenant governor and secretary of state.
Since then, Democrats have tried to pinpoint LaRouche candidates nationwide and educate voters about their unorthodox views. A preliminary Democratic National Committee survey showed 140 LaRouche candidates in 21 states compared with LaRouche claims of more than 800 nationwide.
″We certainly don’t want to see this fluke that occurred in Illinois occur in another state,″ DNC spokesman Terry Michael said. ″We think the spotlight that’s been placed on these people is probably going to do the job in defeating them. I think we’d be surprised if in any race of any visibility, they won again.″
LaRouche spokeswoman Nereida Cordero-Thompson said Illinois was not an exception.
″In terms of making any predictions, we do not do that,″ she said in an interview last week. ″In all the states (with upcoming primaries), LaRouche Democrats have done very well in previous races and we expect that to be the case again unless there’s another vote fraud that takes place.″
Even as voters prepare to cast their primary ballots in Texas on Saturday and in Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina the following Tuesday, LaRouche supporters have won four congressional nominations in Ohio and Texas by default. No other Democrats filed for the races.
- In Texas, LaRouche backers say they have 200 candidates on the ballot, including 12 congressional candidates and one for state agriculture commissioner. Harry Kniffen and Susan Director, both of Houston, are unopposed on the Democratic ballot for congressional nominations in the 7th and 22nd districts.
Democratic chairman Robert Slagle mailed out 18,000 lists of the LaRouche candidates so voters would know who they are, a move that LaRouche congressional candidate Harley Schlanger said ″smacks of Stalinism.″
-In Ohio, the LaRouche campaign claims 69 candidates on the primary ballot. Don Scott, who got 45,908 votes against Rep. Michael DeWine in 1984, is challenging Sen. John Glenn. There are 14 LaRouche people running for Congress. Of those, Clem Cratty is alone in the Democratic primary in the 4th District and Don Jones has no opposition in the 6th District. However, Jones recently disavowed any link to LaRouche, although the LaRouche campaign claims him and Jones has admitted attending LaRouche meetings.
Said Ruvolo, ″They’re not new in Ohio. They’ve been running here since 1976. They’ve never gotten anywhere and they won’t this time.″
-In Indiana, Democratic Senate candidate Jill Long worries about name recognition in her race against LaRouche candidate Georgia Irey. Although Long is the party-endorsed candidate, she is little known.
″There is a potential for some misunderstanding because the LaRouche candidate is a woman and she will be listed first on the ballot,″ Long said.
Among another 12 LaRouche candidates on the ballot are eight running for congressional seats.
-In North Carolina, there is only one LaRouche-connected candidate on the ballot, Milton Croom, who is among 10 Democrats seeking the U.S. Senate nomination. Croom said he is not running as a LaRouche candidate, but he has met with LaRouche, supports many of the self-described economist’s positions, and a LaRouche staffer from Washington is working on Croom’s campaign.
Ed Turlington, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said the party considers Croom a LaRouche candidate. ″I think it came out of his own mouth,″ Turlington said.
The DNC’s Michael said LaRouche candidates in past elections have attracted only marginal support.
″I think we’re concerned that voters be appropriately educated to the presence on the ballot of people who are LaRouche candidates. To know them is to reject them,″ he said.
But Ms. Cordero-Thompson said LaRouche candidates have polled support from all voting segments in earlier elections. ″It wasn’t a phenomenon that was a fluke. It was across-the-board support,″ she said.
LaRouche, a political extremist who has run for president three times and is expected to try again in 1988, espouses bizarre views involving global conspiracies.