GERMANTOWN – Elizabeth Dole wasn’t the only casualty in the presidential race last week.
Brian Saunders, an electronic technician from Germantown, is giving up his Internet Party bid for president.
“When I was running for president, I knew I had no chance,” said Saunders.
And how. From July to September, Texas Gov. George W. Bush raised 155,000 times as much as the $130 that Saunders pulled in from two donors — himself and his wife.
But it was not money that drove Saunders out of the presidential race. It was the opportunity to run for Congress instead as the Constitution Party nominee against Rep. Constance A. Morella, R- Bethesda.
Although his goal has changed, Saunders said his motivation for running remains the same: He wants people to vote.
“I’ve always said the last thing I wanted to do was run for public office,” Saunders said during his presidential campaign. “All I want to do is get a message out.”
Saunders said he is sick of the lack of representation average citizens have in Washington. He believes that special interest groups are drowning out the voice of regular individuals.
But people are not exercising the one opportunity to make their voices heard, he said, noting that less than half of eligible voters voted in the 1996 presidential elections.
“If more people voted, special interests would lose their power,” Saunders said.
He said that spreading his message is just as important as winning.
Saunders said he would prefer receiving no votes in an election with a high turnout, than winning an election with a small turnout. As long as people vote, no matter who they vote for, he said he would be pleased.
Saunders is sure to get at least two votes in addition to votes from himself and his wife: William David Thomas, a minister from Germantown, said he and his wife, Marian, would vote for Saunders no matter what the odds.
“What’s important is that you are truly voting for what you believe in,” Thomas said. “It’s the satisfaction that I voted for an individual who stands for the same things I believe in.”
He made it clear that he did not consider a vote for Saunders a wasted one.
“Connie Morella’s in big trouble,” Thomas said.
A confident Saunders agrees. While he concedes that his presidential bid was the longest of long shots, he insists that his race against Morella is legitimate, even though the seven-term incumbent has not won less than 60 percent of the vote since her first election in 1986.
“I would advise you not to put any money on Morella this time around,” he said.
Saunders, who created the Internet Party at the beginning of the year to support his presidential candidacy, said he is excited to join an established party for his congressional bid – even though a Constitution Party official Friday could not name Saunders.
At the very least, Saunders said, the party’s backing will make fund raising easier.
“All of the fund raising is going to be the Constitution Party’s responsibility,” Saunders said. “Basically, they run the campaign. I’m just the candidate.”
As for the Internet Party, Saunders said it is history.
“It’s a crying shame, too, because I have that domain name (on the Internet) for the next year and a half,” he said.