The Constitution Party (began in 1992 as the U.S. Taxpayers Party, name changed in 1999 to better reflect its core beliefs) is now the nation’s third largest political party in terms of voter registration of its state affiliates. With a philosophy based on that of America’s Founding Fathers, the CP has fielded presidential candidates every election and has experienced more growth than any other of the so-called “third” parties.
The Constitution Party of West Virginia traces its origins to 1996 and the Wood County Tea Party in support of the nascent USTP’s principles. By spring 2000, most of this Tea Party’s members had returned to one of the two establishment parties. In autumn of that year, some remaining independent activists helped to successfully litigate write-in ballot status for Constitution Party presidential candidate and founder Howard Phillips. The CPWV was formally organized in Morgantown on June 12, 2004 and has been holding regular bi-monthly public meetings in over a dozen locations around the state ever since. In 2005, the state party launched its internet presence and established its constitution and operating bylaws. 2006 saw the party nominate its first gubernatorial candidate in Pastor Butch Paugh and initiate the development of its state specific principles and issues platform.
In 2007, CPWV ballot access petitioners experienced interference with their civil rights on several fronts and were thus duty-bound to initiate litigation against the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources and other agencies. By August of 2008, the party had successfully petitioned (21,704 voter signatures) to obtain ballot access for presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin and held its inaugural state convention with Vice Presidential candidate Darrell Castle as guest speaker. Local candidates who had petitioned for ballot access for County Sheriff, County Surveyor, and House of Delegates received an average of over 13% of the vote and bested Mountain Party candidates in three counties. Nine other CPWV activists became involved in the political process by running as statewide write-in candidates.
With 2009 came a legal victory, thanks to some pro bono outside legal assistance, over the WVDNR thus securing political rights in public parks for all West Virginians. And, as the result of lobbying efforts, the state legislature cut petition signature requirements in half and extended their deadline by almost three months. So, 2010 found us back in the public arena successfully petitioning for ballot access for our congressional nominees Phil Hudok and Jeff Becker. Now organized into eight close-knit geographic councils, the CPWV looks forward to continued progress and increased community interest with forthcoming county executive committees and local activities.