Constitution Party could siphon GOP votes

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Democrats, Republicans and Libertarians held primaries last month that decided their nominees for most offices in the November election. In June, our two new parties will hold conventions to determine their nominees.

The Green Party will hold its nominating convention sometime in June, but I couldn’t figure out when since the time and date of their convention isn’t on their website or Facebook page — at least not that I could find. The Constitution Party, which got enough signatures to become an official party last month, will hold its nominating convention in Charlotte on June 16.

The Green Party will probably have little impact on the general election this year. It appears to be a leftist alternative to the Democratic Party and confined to the state’s most liberal enclaves. About half the events listed on its Facebook page happened in Asheville. The website lists a Chapel Hill address.

The Green Party got on the ballot because Republicans passed a law saying any party that appeared on ballots in 70 percent of the states in the previous presidential election is automatically eligible to appear on the ballot in North Carolina. The Green Party was the only party that reached that threshold. They got on the ballot without needing to show any organizational of financial viability.

The Constitution Party is a different matter. They had to build an infrastructure to get enough signatures to get on the ballot. Their platform appeals to discontented conservatives who believe the GOP is the establishment and that the establishment is bad. In parts of the state where guns and religion play a big role in politics, the Constitution Party could make serious inroads.

For instance, in North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, Tim D’Annunzio is rumored to be looking at the race. D’Annunzio ran against Richard Hudson in the GOP primary in 2016. While he lost, he won the three easternmost counties — Hoke, Cumberland and Moore. He was also the 4th Congressional District Republican nominee in 2014 before the courts ordered the districts changed. He lost to Democratic incumbent David Price that year. If he runs this year, he would not only bring name recognition, he’s probably got more appeal to some of the more rural voters of the district.

In rural legislative districts across North Carolina, states’ rights type folks who would vigorously defend the Second Amendment, protect the sanctity of marriage, promote prayer in schools and oppose both free trade and immigration might like the Constitution Party. They could either push the GOP hard to the right or steal enough votes to make otherwise safe Republican seats more competitive.

New political parties add a bit of uncertainty to the upcoming elections. The Green Party seems too small, disorganized and regional to make much of a difference. The Constitution Party, though, showed organizational muscle by getting on the ballot. They may well appeal to some of the disaffected Tea Partiers and conservatives who think the GOP is too establishment.

Thomas Mills is founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com, Before starting the website, he spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant.