Rick Santorum, Nader Raider

Rick Santorum's donors are a generous sort. When the senator's campaign asked a few of them to send checks to a pro-gay marriage, anti-war, pro-tax, pro-abortion rights candidate, the money flowed over. The candidate was Carl Romanelli, a "Green Party fireball" (his words) whose campaign was in the doldrums until Santorum donors funnelled $66,000 his way in the hopes he could get enough signatures to make the ballot. It probably worked.

Unfortunately for Santorum, Romanelli's a nonentity who'll score at most 1% of the vote; Democrat Bob Casey is leading the race by low double digits. Santorum missed out on his biggest spoiler opportunity a few months back, when former NARAL head Kate Michelman mulled an independent pro-choice candidacy (Casey is famously pro-life). Alas; we missed out on the spectacle of Rick Santorum working arm in arm with NARAL for re-election.

And there's bad news on the PA ballot access front; Libertarian Russ Diamond, who led one of the most successful voter revolts in decades against state legislators who voted themselves a pay raise, won't have enough signatures to make the ballot for governor. If only he had a little less principle. Can anyone think of a Libertarian candidate who was as willing to be used as a prop by a major party candidate like the Greens?

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  • ||

    Ah, Santorum... your penultimate ploy will not save you. Don't worry -- patriotism, not clandestine support of fringe candidates -- is always the last refuge of a scoundrel.

    Hast thy homo-hatin' god forsaken thee?

  • ||

    First of all, how is it "unprincipled" for a Libertarian to solicit or accept funds voluntarily given by anyone? If both donor and donee agree that the money does more good in the donee's hands, there is nothing wrong with it. Is it a libertarian "principle" that a libertarian donee should not allow a donor to do what he or she wants with his or her own money?

    Second, from what facts do you draw your conclusion that Russ Diamond failed to make the ballot because he refused to solicit or accept funds from Casey supporters?

    Third, if Russ Diamond did not solicit funds from Casey supporters, or if Casey supporters did not offer any, there is a better explanation than the so-called "principle": A Libertarian is just as likely to attack Democratic Party big-government programs as he is to attack Republican Party big-government programs. The donors from both major parties know that; the Libertarian candidates know that they know that. The ulterior-motived donation to the Libertarian candidate is far less likely to reap the intended benefit than the same kind of donation to the Green. And for that reason, the Libertarian candidate's time is less likely to be well-spent seeking it.

  • David Weigel||

    I should have made it clearer - Russ Diamond wasn't running as a Libertarian. He was running as an independent on an anti-legislative pay raise, pro-tax cut ticket. His running mate was a former Republican official. Republicans were worried about Diamond taking 4-5% of the vote from their candidate, Lynn Swann, the former Steeler, who's a political novice and allied himself with the unpopular Republican legislators who gave themself the pay raise. Incumbent Dem Gov. Ed Rendell is almost 20 points ahead of Swann now, though, so the parties stopped caring about Diamond.

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    I suspect anyone looking very closely at Murray Sabrin's run for governor in New Jersey will find that backers of Jim McGreevy helped him attack Meg Whitman from the right. He ran as a pro-life libertarian specifically to draw off the few pro-life conservatives from the Republican line.

    He scored 5% of the vote but Whitman just barely held on to win. When McGreevy won the next election, he didn't need any help.

    Sean Dougherty
    Clifton, NJ

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    Look for Casey to go over the Green Party petitions with a fine tooth comb. I'd be surprised if even 50% of the signatures are legitimate (and that's based on Libertarian petition drives using paid petitioners). Of course, if Casey does this he will look like a grinch so maybe the GOP donors get their money's worth either way.

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    I bet Casey's people look at the Green Party petitions with a fine tooth comb and will find at least 50% of signatures are invalid (and that's based on several Libertarian petition drives with paid non-libertarian petitioners.) Of course, that will make Casey look anti-democratic, so the Santorum donors will get their money's worth either way.

  • David Weigel||

    Creech - Voters have never given a shit about the two parties blocking third parties. It'd be one thing if, say, Lieberman loses the primary and the Connecticut Democrats try to block him from the ballot as an independent. But whether or not a Green is on the ballot? The Green party has 20,000 members in Pennsylvania. Some of them will care, and that's it. Just go back and check how hard the Democrats worked to block Nader from the PA ballot in 2004 and how much that hurt Kerry.

  • ||

    Santorum smells like desperation to me, and of course, that famous frothy mixture.

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