John Edward Boehm believes his sympathy for the causes of Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. will not hurt his candidacy in the Montgomery Democratic primary once voters learn that he is not "a puppet on a string" for the ultraconservative politician.

"The issue in this election is who is best for our people," said Boehm, a 45-year-old county native who until earlier this year was a registered Republican. "John Boehm is running, not LaRouche."

Nevertheless, in the wake of recent electoral victories that LaRouche-backed candidates scored in Illinois, Boehm has become a whipping boy for some Montgomery Democrats angry at his presence in the race.

Rival candidates Leon Billings and Carlton Sickles, in particular, have repeatedly criticized and drawn attention to Boehm's candidacy.

"The elections in Illinois showed that anything is possible," said Boehm, who was asked to run in the 8th District by statewide LaRouche organizers in Baltimore.

Boehm stressed that he will be "very up-front and sincere" about his support for LaRouche's goals as he travels the county this summer.

Boehm, an insurance agent, is a member of the National Democratic Policy Committee, an organization founded by LaRouche that is supporting like-minded candidates for local and state offices around the country.

Boehm said he changed his party affiliation for "pragmatic reasons" before launching his first bid for elective office in heavily Democratic Montgomery.

He added that he has been a member of several conservative groups, including the National Right to Work Committee, the American Security Council and the National Right to Life Committee.

"People are looking for a God-fearing statesman -- as opposed to a politician -- who will face up to the moral issues in government" such as abortion and euthanasia, said Boehm. He advocates an end to federal funding of abortions.

Boehm, like several of the other Democrats running for Congress, also supports the repeal of the Gramm-Rudman deficit reduction law and halting U.S. aid to rebels fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.

He also has said that the federal government should be more aggressive in its war against drugs in this country.

Boehm, an avid musician, served in the U.S. Army during the early 1960s as a military bandsman, playing the trumpet. He lives in the Layhill section of Silver Spring with his wife and their young son.

He describes himself as "dark-horse" candidate, in part because his tiny budget, which he estimates will amount to only several hundred dollars, pales next to others in the race.

Still, he believes he can muster support by campaigning as a "citizen candidate."

"I have no ties to any political machine, and that's an asset," he said.