Buchanan Supporters Gaining Control of NH Reform Party

July 7, 2008 - 7:25 PM

Manchester, NH (CNSNews.com) -Reform Party presidential hopeful Patrick J Buchanan may have taken a loss in a New Hampshire Superior Courtroom, but he and his supporters emerged winners Saturday, taking increased control of the state's party apparatus.

On Friday, a Superior Court Judge ruled that a Saturday meeting organized by Buchanan could be held, but insisted Buchanan's people could not call the session a state convention, nor could they elect delegates to the Reform Party's national convention.

The judge acted after Reform Party of New Hampshire Chairman John Talbot petitioned the court, in an effort to block the meeting, which Buchanan attended and where he spoke briefly. Barring that, Talbot asked the judge to issue an order requiring Buchanan supporters to inform those in attendance that they were not at the party's state convention. Talbot also asked the judge to prohibit the election of delegates to the national meeting, set for August in San Diego.

When the Saturday session opened, the court ordered disclaimers were read. However, the session, packed with Buchanan supporters, than moved to amend the Reform Party of New Hampshire's by-laws. The action changed the requirement that party officers must have been members of the party for at least one year. A unanimous vote changed the amount of time to six months.

The gathering then elected Buchanan backer Ted Maravelias as the party's new chairman and long time Buchanan supporter Shelley Uscinski as vice chairman, giving the one time commentator virtual control of the party's Granite State apparatus. However, given the court's decision that the meeting was not a convention, it remains unclear whether the election results will be upheld, should Talbot and others return to court. Talbot could not be reached for comment.

Asked about a future court challenge, Maravelias acknowledged that remains a possibility. "It is definitely a contentious matter. We've modified the by-laws and in my opinion, that makes the judge's ruling against us null and void."

Some Buchanan supporters insisted Talbot and other Reform Party members were free to attend the Saturday meeting.

In his brief remarks, Buchanan outlined the differences he sees between his newly found political home and the Democratic and Republican opposition. Buchanan said his candidacy would call into question trade relations with China, limit U.S. military intervention around the world, and discuss the need to crack down on illegal immigration.

Buchanan made another pitch for his inclusion in upcoming presidential debates, telling the cheering gathering, "We're going to be in the debates. We're going to give them the fight of their lives."