So what exactly is the Constitution Party, the group that former Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) is now joining in order to run for governor of Colorado?
The Constitution Party is a religiously conservative, right-wing party founded in 1992 — and a group that has not yet had success in Colorado politics, though they hope that Tancredo might provide a breakthrough. If Tancredo wants to use this third-party platform to beat the Republican nominee — either Scott McInnis or Dan Maes — and likely Democratic nominee Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper, Tancredo will have to buck history. In the 2008 election in Colorado, the party’s presidential nominee Chuck Baldwin received 6,233 votes, 0.257% of the votes in the state.
Overall, the Constitution Party’s positions could be described as religious conservative and paleoconservative. They also strongly reject neoconservatism and American internationalism as threats to the country’s independence and sovereignty. For example, in 2008 they nominated Chuck Baldwin, defeating Alan Keyes’ attempt to win its nomination, with the Iraq War as a key issue. Keyes is a strong supporter of the Iraq War, while Baldwin described it as “the illegal, immoral, unconstitutional war that has resulted in the slaughter of four thousand American soldiers and untold innocent Iraqis.” And at their convention, Baldwin won by a landslide.
There was also an effort in 1996 to recruit Pat Buchanan as its presidential candidate, the party’s national chairman Jim Clymer told TPMDC, though this bid failed.
The highest elected official from the Constitution Party was Montana state Rep. Rick Jore, who was originally elected as a Republican in the 1990s, and returned to the legislature with the Constitution Party in 2006. He was term-limited out in 2008, leaving the party without any elected officials at that level of government.
The Constitution Party’s philosophy is rooted in religious conservatism. As Colorado’s American Constitution Party explains on its website:
We, the members of the American Constitution Party, gratefully acknowledge the blessings of the Lord God as the Creator, Preserver, and Ruler of the universe and of our nation. We hereby appeal to Him for aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Divine Providence as we work to restore and preserve this nation as a government of, by, and for the people. Our republic is a nation governed by a constitution rooted in Biblical law and administered by representatives elected by the people to preserve, protect, and defend it against attacks by all its enemies, whether from without or within.
As the national party’s platform explains:
The Constitution Party gratefully acknowledges the blessing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as Creator, Preserver and Ruler of the Universe and of these United States. We hereby appeal to Him for mercy, aid, comfort, guidance and the protection of His Providence as we work to restore and preserve these United States.
This great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been and are afforded asylum, prosperity, and freedom of worship here.
The goal of the Constitution Party is to restore American jurisprudence to its Biblical foundations and to limit the federal government to its Constitutional boundaries.
Does the party have high hopes for a big win with Tancredo, we asked Clymer? “I’m not on the ground in Colorado, I don’t claim to have a good feel of the political polls there. But from what I read I think he has a really good chance of winning. It sounds like this is the year when people have a new awareness, people are gaining a new awareness of the Constitution and what the Constitution Party means, and a new admiration and respect for limited government and the principles of government that we’ve always maintained.”
“I’m happy that he’s coming over,” Clymer added. “I think he’ll be a great asset to the party. It’ll raise the visibility of the party nationally. I’ve always said that the Tea Party movement which I strongly support, the Constitution Party is really the political vehicle that is promoting and has been promoting the ideas and principles and issues of the Tea Party movement. And this gives us an opportunity to make that known.”
The party was originally founded under the name U.S. Taxpayers Party, and then later adopted its current name in 1999.
There’s some variation among the names of the state affiliates. The Colorado chapter, for example, is called the American Constitution Party, the Michigan chapter still calls itself the U.S. Taxpayers Party, and the affiliate in Nevada is the Independent American Party — yes, it’s the same organization that Sharron Angle was a member of in 1990s. The Taxpayers/Constitution party also absorbed the American Independent Party in California as its affiliate there. The AIP was originally created for George Wallace’s anti-integration campaign in 1968 — though Clymer said that other chapters, such as the one in Colorado, did not originate from the AIP, and that the Constitution Party is not a successor party to the AIP as a whole.