Reform Party Convention In Diamondhead - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

10/12/03

Reform Party Convention In Diamondhead

A political party that drew a large following in the early 1990s by calling for government change is now making changes of it's own to stay alive. The Reform Party held its national convention in Diamondhead this weekend. Members say in the past hundreds of people showed up for these events, but this year only about a third of the states sent delegates.

You may remember that wealthy Texas businessman Ross Perot started the party in1995. In his1992 presidential run as an independent, he didn't win but he did capture 19% of the vote.

Perot's strong showing by a third party candidate made it seem like the Reform party was on the road to success.

"If people can't tell me that they're active or they're here then in my mind they go on the "B" list," a party official said at the meeting.

The "B" list is for Reform party chapters that haven't held state conventions in years. On Sunday some national delegates created controversy for wanting Alabama's name added.

"If they want to be out on their own.. Let them be out on their own," a delegate said.

"Sates should send us a letter saying 'we don't want to be affiliated anymore' I think it's lousy for us to arbitrarily suspend them," another delegate said.

Alabama escaped the B list, but Hawaii, Nevada, and about two dozen other states are under suspension for being inactive. Delegates said the problem is that many Reform party supporters were turned off by predator politicians.

"They came into our operation, had their way with us.. took the money and now we sure don't see them any more," California delegate Valli Sharpe-Geisler said.

To get the public to realize what the massive loss of support has done to his party one delegates explained the situation in a way he thought I could understand.

"How is it for the survival of your TV station to lose three-fourths of your advertisers and then try to get more, Iowa delegate Theodore Webster said.

During the national convention in Diamondhead, delegates focused on rebuilding the party they love. They hoped relaxing some of their by-laws would help.

"We're basically reorganizing and rebuilding. We're going back to our roots and we're coming back to elect candidates in different state offices and become party we were intended to be," Oklahoma delegate Jack Pierson said.

The process wasn't an easy one.

"If she was put, placed out of order and told to sit down then she should stay sit down," a delegate stood up and said.

"What you see in there you think. That's coming together.. Well, actually it is. Because their isn't anything about a Reform party person that isn't about having an opinion and really believing inn you issue enough to stand up and say something about it," Sharpe-Geisler said.

Delegates said they are already making progress to revive Reform party and making sure the chances of electing third party candidates keeps rolling forward.

During the convention, delegates endorsed Tom Weill of Tylertown as their choice for United States President. The 78-year-old's platform includes stopping foreign aid, putting prisoners to work, and providing most prescription drugs for five dollars.

By Danielle Thomas

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