Maryland Democrats brought out some of their heaviest hitters Tuesday to urge voters to reject Anne Arundel County Council Republican candidate Michael Anthony Peroutka.
"We don't need to go backwards," said House of Delegates Speaker Michael E. Busch, who organized a news conference outside the State House in Annapolis to denounce Peroutka.
Peroutka has gained attention during his campaign for the Anne Arundel County Council for his Institute on the Constitution, which promotes a God-centered view of government, and his involvement in the League of the South, a secessionist group that he said he recently quit.
Peroutka ran for president of the United States with the Constitution Party in 2004. He made the ballot in 36 states and won more than 143,000 votes.
Peroutka has questioned the role of government in education, saying public schools are a plank in the "Communist Manifesto."
"You're going to have someone who is one-seventh of the votes on the County Council who wants to teach creationism in our school system, does not want to teach evolution as a science, does not want to fund public education," he said.
Rep. Donna Edwards, a Democrat whose congressional district overlaps with part of the council district for which Peroutka is running, said his positions are "really appalling" and "good Republicans" should denounce him.
"His views, his ideas are simply not acceptable in the modern world," Edwards said.
As Busch, Edwards and other Democrats took turns launching their criticisms, Peroutka stood quietly at the edge of Lawyers Mall, watching the news conference and occasionally taking notes.
"The fact that they bring the speaker of the House out here and a congressperson is maybe an indication of the desperateness of their position and their resistance — or their intolerance, really — to have another view," Peroutka said.
He said many of the views the Democrats attributed to him were "taken out of context, of course."
Peroutka said he supports education but that it should be in the control of parents, not the government. He said an elected school board would be a step toward parental control, but did not offer further specifics.
He reiterated a promise not to vote for tax increases and a pledge to try to repeal stormwater fees on property owners to pay for environmental programs.
Peroutka's Democratic opponent, Patrick Armstrong, did not attend the news conference.