- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 22, 2000

Lyndon LaRouche, a perennial candidate who runs for president as a Democrat every four years, is suing to get the delegates he won with nearly 22 percent of the votes he received in the Arkansas presidential primary.

Arkansas Democrats, with the enthusiastic approval of the national party, have refused to seat his backers at the state party convention in Hot Springs on Saturday.

They accuse Mr. LaRouche of racism and wackiness, and say he isn't a legitimate candidate.

The state party insists that since Mr. LaRouche doesn't qualify as a party candidate he can't participate in the state convention to determine who will represent the state at the party's national convention in Los Angeles in August.

Mr. LaRouche contends in his lawsuit, to be heard tomorrow in Pulaski Circuit Court in Little Rock, that on the basis of the 22 percent of the vote in the Arkansas presidential primary he is entitled to seven delegates at the national convention. He bases the claim on an Arkansas law. It stipulates that any candidate receiving 15 percent or more of the presidential primary vote is entitled to have delegates represent him at the national convention.

But, in a voice rising with emphasis, Glen Hooks, executive director of the Arkansas party, disputes that in a telephone interview.

"The law stipulates that any duly qualified presidential candidate who gets that amount of votes gets delegates. We told him, and told him, and told him back when he was filing as a candidate that he didn't qualify.

"He just wouldn't listen. Now we've got this hearing, and he's trying to stop the convention. He can't win; he's wasting our time. And I'm not amused."

Mr. Hooks is certain Mr. LaRouche will lose as he did in a similar situation in 1996. The chairman of the Democratic National Committee ruled that Mr. LaRouche could not qualify because he did not meet two of the requirements: He was not a registered voter, and he had not voted in the previous presidential election.

Mr. LaRouche sued in 1996, the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and Mr. LaRouche lost. "The conditions are exactly the same now," says Mr. Hooks. "He's going to lose again."

Mr. LaRouche, 77, of Round Hill, Va., who ran for president as an independent in 1976 and as a Democrat in every presidential election since, was convicted of mail fraud in 1988 in connection with political fund-raising, and served five years of a 15-year sentence.

Nevertheless, in winning 22 percent of the vote against Al Gore in the May primary, he received more than 30 percent of the vote in seven Arkansas counties and more than a thousand votes in 16 largely rural counties. In the absence of a favorable ruling in his lawsuit, Al Gore will get all 48 Arkansas delegates.

Embarrassed Arkansas Democrats speculated that most of those who voted for Mr. LaRouche in the primary were unaware of his past, and of his accusations that Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain is involved in drug smuggling, that the world is dominated by a conspiracy of Italian noblemen, and that he wants to colonize the planet Mars. Most of those who voted for him, Arkansas analysts speculated, were making a protest against Mr. Gore, and, indirectly, against President Clinton. Though he has won all but two of his many races for office in Arkansas, the president has rarely won decisively and the opinion of his home folks remains sharply divided.

The dispute over the LaRouche delegates is unlikely to be heard at the Los Angeles convention, but the party has had contentious fights in the past over the seating of disputed delegates. In 1964, when blacks were prevented from participating in the selection of delegates from Mississippi, Fannie Lou Hamer and others organized the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party.

The freedom group sent delegates to the convention, staged a fight with the party credentials committee, and prevailed. The dispute led to a reform of delegate selection and opened the party to the participation of blacks in several Southern states where they had been excluded or discouraged.

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