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Dateline 1/25/2000

Today's Headline: Hagelin Defeats Buchanan

Monday, January 24, 2000
Lead story, page 1

Fairfield Candidate Defeats Buchanan

Hagelin wins 63 percent of vote in Reform Party straw poll

By Jean Greco
Courier Fairfield bureau

FAIRFIELD--Fairfield presidential candidate John Hagelin won a Reform Party straw poll by a landslide, defeating Pat Buchanan by more than 50% of the vote.

The Reform Party of Iowa and Minnesota met in Fort Dodge Sunday for a debate and straw poll. In a surprise upset over Reform Party favorite Buchanan, Hagelin received 63 percent of the vote to Buchanan's 11 percent.

Sherry Blue, Chairman of the Reform Party in Iowa, said the debate was the party's way of participating in the Iowa caucuses. She said Hagelin clearly made a good showing at the debate.

Hagelin was present at the debate while Buchanan entered his remarks by phone. All of the candidates, including Buchanan, participated in the question and answer session following the debate.

"I think what the day showed was that I can win when the process is open and democratic," Hagelin said.

Hagelin said the press would be surprised by his upset of Buchanan, but he is not.

"Buchanan has pushed the party so far right that no one is comfortable," he said....

Hagelin said about 200 people attended the debate and admittedly he had a good base of support among about 50 members of the Fairfield-based Natural Law Party who went to Fort Dodge for the event.

Hagelin is running for president for the third time on the NLP ticket. With no challengers and ballot access in all 50 states, Hagelin is the winner in the NLP race.

But this time around, Hagelin is also seeking the Reform Party nomination. Reformers who like him can vote for him as an NLP candidate in some states, or as a Reform candidate in others and as an Independent in yet others....

Could Hagelin emerge as the candidate of the national Reform Party?

Blue says it is a possibility.

She said the party has about 1800 registrants in Iowa, but the party will hold a national primary in July, at which time any registered voter requesting a ballot can participate. Blue said she is very proud of the Reform Party process that allows any registered voter to participate in the party's primary. The winner of the Reform Party vote in July will be announced at the national convention in August.

Blue could not offer a reason why Hagelin fared so well at the debate, other than to say he "did very well" as a debater.

She said every so often a "fusion" candidate comes along, someone who seeks the nomination of two to three parties, and coalesces third-party voters.

Hagelin said last week he intends to "forge the largest coalition of third parties in U.S. history" in this year's race.

And as it happens, Blue is saying that's what the Reform Party would like to accomplish.

"We're looking to form a coalition of third-party voters," Blue said Sunday. "With one-third of American voters not registered to either major party, people are saying they are discontented with the two-party process and they are looking to see what else is out there."

One state away from qualifying for millions in federal matching funds, Hagelin is raising his hand.

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