SALT LAKE CITY — Randall Hinton is a Web developer by day and a constitutional philosopher by night, and if he has his way, a U.S. congressman by next year.

Hinton announced Friday he is running as the Constitutional Party candidate looking to unseat Democratic Rep. Jim Matheson in the 2nd District.

Quoting Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, Hinton threw his hat in the ring with a denunciation of government overreach, the nation's "moral deficit" and unconstitutional laws.

"We are experiencing taxation without representation on a massive scale," he said, citing several "unconstitutional laws" that are devastating the American political and economic systems.

Among those laws, he contended the 17th Amendment is causing nearly all the problems in Washington, D.C., today. The 17th Amendment, ratified in 1913, gave voters the responsibility for choosing each state's two U.S. senators. Before the amendment was passed, state legislators selected U.S. senators.

"The Senate was never meant to be popularly elected," Hinton said. "It's about time to give power back to the states."

Hinton also took on Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and other safety-net programs, calling them "unfunded liabilities" that "burden the unborn" and said he favors eventually cutting the programs altogether.

On his campaign Web site, Hinton says entitlements are a "cancer which threatens to destroy our republic."

Hinton also takes a stance against government aid to other countries and writes that the federal government should sell unconstitutional government lands to private owners.

Hinton's campaign strategist, Thomas Dyches, said Hinton is a candidate "ahead of the curve" who protested bank bailouts as a "socialist nightmare."

Looking ahead to the campaign, Dyches said they would seek to highlight principles rather than partisanship.

"Rep. Matheson is a good and sincere man … but is wrong on many issues," he said.

Utah's lone Democrat in Congress, Matheson faces a growing field of challengers, including former Republican state legislator Morgan Philpot. Matheson has won re-election by increasing margins since 2002.