WASHINGTON - The Democratic National Committee has the right to keep perennial candidate Lyndon LaRouche Jr. from qualifying for the party's nomination, a federal district court has ruled.
The opinion, by a three-judge panel, was based in part on a party requirement that a Democratic presidential nominee be a registered voter. LaRouche, a convicted felon, lost his voting privilege in his home state of Virginia.
Democrats voiced relief. "We're glad this is over with and that the court has upheld what we said in the past and respected our party rules," said DNC spokesman Peter Kauffmann.
But supporters of LaRouche are pledging to fight on.
"Unless the policy changes," warned LaRouche spokesman Phil Valenti, "the case will go to the Supreme Court."
A firebrand outsider, LaRouche has run for president seven times, including a 1992 campaign from a federal prison where he was serving time for fraud and tax evasion.
He argued that Democratic Party rules, which barred LaRouche delegates at the 1996 national convention, violate the federal Voting Rights Act. But the U.S. District Court panel here decided that the DNC's internal delegate-selection rules are not subject to the Voting Rights Act. The decision, handed down this month, is the latest chapter in a long feud between LaRouche and the Democratic Party.
LaRouche, who contends that ecology is a "destructive cult belief" and warns that the world economy is on the brink of collapse, recently launched his bid for the 2000 nomination in a teleconference from Germany, his wife's home.
He has collected more than the necessary $100,000 in small donations from 20 states, qualifying him for federal matching funds for the 2000 race. The court decision is not expected to affect his ability to collect matching funds, said a Federal Election Commission spokesman.
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