Live from the Way Home from the LP Convention: We're Gonna Be Friends


On the way out of the Denver convention, defeated candidate and Massachusetts party chair George Phillies pulled me aside to express how worried he was about the Barr/Root ticket. "This is a train wreck," he said. "My delegation* is majority pagan. Nominating this man is the equivalent of nominating an Imperial Wizard of the KKK to lead a party of African Americans." Phillies raised the possibility of a Massachusetts LP convention that would nominate a new candidate at the top of the ticket, like author L. Neil Smith. And as I left, I heard a rumor that Arizona might do the same thing.

I think this would amount to local party suicide. The only thing all LPers agree on right now is that Barr, by dint of his fame and national media pull, could get more votes than any previous candidate. In most states, a certain vote total will get a party guaranteed ballot access. Nominating an unkown, especially when low-information voters will head to the polls expecting to see Barr, would drive down vote totals.

Still, the animosity toward Barr from some of the LP can't be overstated. Mass. Delegate Arthur Torrey had already told me that, as a presidential elector, he'd vote against Barr. If Barr had 269 electoral votes and Torrey held the balance, he'd "think really hard about it. I have to see my [gay] sister from time to time, you know."

UPDATE: Mike Kielsky of the Arizona LP writes in to correct me:

Some Arizona delegates asked if we really had to list Barr/Root while there remained doubt about the depth of their Libertarian positions. I brought this question to Bob Barr directly, and asked his help in convincing some in the delegation.

Kielsky, the party chairman, is empowered to file a presidential ticket with the Arizona Secretary of State. So this will be contentious—the AZ LP includes radical war horses like "rEVOLution" banner designer Ernie Hancock—but the state party's leadership wants to stick with Barr. Massachusetts is another story.

Also, something else happened on my way out of the convention. Radicals won three of five at-large slots on the Libertarian National Committee: Mary Ruwart, Ruwart campaign manager Lee Wrights, and Angela Keaton. It's an important victory for the radical wing, and an important concession by reformers/Barr backers.

* UPDATE II: George Phillies disputes the quote at the top of this post. He actually said that a majority of his state committee was neopagan, not his delegation. I conflated the two when I flipped open my laptop at the airport to write this up.