Winning elections was the theme of the Maryland Libertarian Party's day-long annual state convention Sunday in Silver Spring.
The Libertarian Party, which generally advocates ensuring civil and economic liberties by minimizing government controls and considers itself the nation's third political party, has only one candidate running in the Maryland election.
The party's hopes for victory are pinned on Gerald Schneider, its candidate for the state House of Delegates seat from the 20th District, which includes Silver Spring and eastern Takoma Park.
At times the convention, which was attended by about 40 persons, seemed an effort to persuade both members and others that the long-shot political party means business.
Alicia Clark, wife of the party's 1980 presidential candidate Ed Clark and national party chairman, said the party intends to run 900 candidates in this fall's elections, twice the number of 1980. The party is running candidates for governor in 21 states. Twenty-four Libertarian Party members hold elected offices nationwide.
"The media attention has been fantastic," Clark said, because news organizations are "tired of the rhetoric of the Republicans and Democrats, and Libertarians have something new to talk about."
The Libertarian Party endorses three general principles of government: civil liberties, economic freedom and a noninterventionist foreign policy. Specifically, the party opposes government subsidies for business or the poor, the draft, licensing of professionals, victimless crime laws, capital punishment, gun control and state funding of abortions. It favors a nuclear weapons freeze, victim restitution and deregulation of business.
"Ronald Reagan is doing his very best to help convince the voters that we are right," Clark said.
Addressing the convention's evening banquet, Schneider said, "A victory by us in the bedroom community of the nation's capital proves not only that our ideas are appealing to a lot of people, but that we could win in any part of the country."
Also addressing the convention was Dick Siano, a Trans World Airlines pilot who won a township council seat in Kingwood, N.J. Siano was the second Libertarian in the country to win a partisan election. The first, Dick Randolph of Fairbanks, Ala., is now in his second term as state delegate and running for governor.
Schneider pledged to try to create councilmanic districts in Montgomery County if he is elected. The current system of electing county council members at large erodes accountability, he said.
He also favored tax credits for Takoma Park residents, who are taxed for county services but also pay for city services through property taxes. He promised to push for a referendum on the issue of unifying Takoma Park, now partly in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and to fight to put a nuclear weapons freeze question on a state ballot.
Because the state has not recognized the Libertarians as a political party, Schneider's party affiliation will be listed on the ballot as "other." The state party is contesting the board of election's ruling in court.