Peroutka was the Constitution Party's nominee for president in 2004, and Whitney was a candidate for the House of Delegates with the Constitution Party in 2006.

Peroutka said his current campaign includes a pledge not to raise taxes and to restore "American view of law" to the County Council.

Whitney is campaigning on a platform of abolishing stormwater fees, lowering taxes and scaling back government.

In addition to the League of the South affiliation, Peroutka was criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for courses he teaches in the Institute on the Constitution, a Pasadena-based organization he co-founded with his brother Steve in 2000. The law center said the organization "pushes false claims" about the Christianity of America's founders, and that Peroutka is a "right-wing historical revisionist."

Peroutka said the institute grew out of a study group on constitutional issues and now sells in-person and online seminars on the U.S. Constitution, the Maryland Constitution, the Anne Arundel County Charter, jury duty and sheriffs' duties, among others. Whitney is a frequent participant and speaker at institute events.

The center also accused Whitney of preaching an anti-government message at Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church in Pasadena that advocates citizen militias to "help keep government tyranny at bay," and suggesting vigilante justice as an acceptable response to abortion.

Whitney said that's a misrepresentation of his sermons, which he said discuss the position that homicide can be justifiable, such as in self-defense. Abortion, on the other hand, he said, is unlawful homicide.

Political party officials are generally barred from discussing the merits of candidates in primaries. Joe Cluster, director of the Maryland Republican Party, said the party can't dictate who registers to join the party or who decides to vie for office.

"I can't pick and choose who runs. My voters will pick the best Republican for the race," Cluster said.

Patrick Armstrong, an Arnold resident facing Whitney in the Democratic primary, said he's spent much of his time on the campaign trail explaining that Whitney has different beliefs than most Democrats.

"My goal is to make sure as many people know the differences between the two of us," Armstrong said.

Bob Fenity, director of the Maryland Democratic Party, would not comment on Whitney, but said he hopes voters are educated before they cast their ballots.

pwood@baltsun.com

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