There Can Be Only One! Sort Of.


Over Memorial Day weekend, Bob Barr defeated George Phillies for the Libertarian Part

y's presidential nomination. But before the convention—indeed, before Barr had even entered the race—Libertarians in New Hampshire and Massachusetts circulated petitions to place Phillies on the ballot. The goal was to make sure the LP could get ballot access, but the result was that Phillies will be on the ballot in one or both states.

Last night, Phillies fired off this message about New Hampshire:

Libertarian Party of New Hampshire Presidential candidate George Phillies has filed his candidacy papers with New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner. "Being nominated for President is the highest honor a political party can bestow on one of its members," Phillies said, "and I will do my utmost to show that New Hampshire's trust is not misplaced."

Speaking of the National Libertarian Party, which separately nominated a different Presidential candidate, Phillies said: "The New Hampshire Party has been collecting signatures for me since Spring 2007. Unfortunately, the people of New Hampshire in their wisdom do not permit political parties to replace their Presidential candidate. I was chosen as the candidate, and so I must remain."

The Libertarian Party is now collecting signatures to put Bob Barr on the ballot; according to most readings of the law, Barr and Phillies could both appear on the ballot as Libertarian presidential candidates. "The acceptance papers had to be filed in a ten day window in early June," Phillies told me over e-mail. "Waiting to see if Barr could get on the ballot before filing was not an option."

However, Phillies is actively trying to take his name off the ballot in Massachusetts, his home state; the ACLU is representing the LP in its effort to do just that. "I am the in-state champion of that effort," he told me. "I was the one who contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth in the first place, the one who advised the ACLU and National that substitution was not being allowed, and the one who asked the ACLU if they would litigate. I also raised the in-state money that is supporting part of the petitioning for any Presidential candidate."

I've called the Barr campaign and state LP to see what they're doing. This whole affair isn't too strange in the thirdpartyverse. In 2000 the Arizona LP placed L. Neil Smith on the ballot instead of Harry Browne. This year the American Independent Party of California might put Alan Keyes on the ballot instead of Constitution Party candidate Chuck Baldwin. (The AIP is part of the CP and always affirms its national candidate.)

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  1. So, this is turning out quite similar to the Democrat party, but with fewer participants?

    Is Phillies the Mrs. Clinton of the L party or something?

  2. Considering the presidential election elects electors not candidates, from a technical standpoint does it matter what name is on the ballot? If the LP wins New Hampshire, as long as the electors vote Barr/Root, it doesnt matter what name is on the ballot.

    In reality, this is just stupid. The GOP and Dems havent even had their conventions to choose their candidates yet, so what names will NH have on the ballot for them?

  3. No offense to Phillies, but what an asshole.

    Sorry pal, you lost. There’s lots of other whackjob parties to join, but no, you have to get your share of the 2% the LP is drawing this year.

    This is why I am a small “l” libertarian…

  4. So in other words, Ron Paul should have been gathering signatures to get on the ballot ahead of McCain? [smacks forehead] What a waste of time trying to get delegates instead!

  5. No offense to Phillies, but what an asshole.

    Sorry pal, you lost. There’s lots of other whackjob parties to join, but no, you have to get your share of the 2% the LP is drawing this year.

    This is why I am a small “l” libertarian…

    Um, I don’t see what he’s doing wrong here. Doesn’t look as if he’s doing this out of megalomania, it looks like they had to use somebody’s name for the petitions and used his. Maybe I’m being to generous.

  6. Seriously? I mean, seriously?

  7. “The sensation you are feeling is The Quickening!”

  8. You guys commenting are idiots and/or didn’t RTFA. You don’t understand Libertarian/independent/minor party petition requirements in these states.

    There are insanely small petition windows to get on the ballot. In MANY states the state LP will circulate petitions with placeholder candidates. This is necessary to get the required number of signatures in before the deadline. Otherwise you are waiting until after someone is nominated which is often too late.

    Some states don’t have a problem with it. I remember circulating petitions for my state in 2002 with a Lt. Governor candidate that was later replaced. the sigs counted.

    Apparently Mass and NH don’t allow the placeholder. Phillies was the placeholder and did not act as some LP dictator. People chose to circulate petitions with his name in order to secure ballot access for THE PARTY, not him personally.

    He also have spend a lot of his time and money on ballot access and in trying get his name taken off and replaced with Barr.

    At this point, Phillies is on the ballot so that the libertarian PARTY ca be on the ballot AT ALL.

    If Bob Barr wants to be on the ballot, he can do what he needs to. It’s not the fault of Phillies.

  9. So is Barr going to chop his head off with a sword? And where is the Spaniard with a Scottish accent?

  10. In other words it is state ballot access laws that make these situations happen. But some would rather blame actual libertarians who are dedicating their time and money for these efforts.

  11. The Enemy is not in here!

  12. Um, maybe the Libertarian Party should hold it’s convention early enough to have the actual candidate on the ballet access petitions. It seems odd to ask the court to make an aception because we couldn’t pick a candidate in a more timely manner. We’re also getting big enough to hold caucuses. How about having each state hold a caucuse in August the year before the election to pick one pledged delegate and several unpledged delegates. The number of unpledged delegates would depend on the state’s population or on the number of members in that state. The unpledged delegates could hold their convention in December, 11 months before the general election. That would give more time for ballot access petitions and let regular members have more of a say.

  13. The GOP and Dems havent even had their conventions to choose their candidates yet, so what names will NH have on the ballot for them?

    In NH, the rules are different for recognized parties (not particularly unusual). Recognized parties (those with at least 4% of the vote in the last election) get a free pass for whoever they nominate.

    See RSA 652:11.

    Apparently Mass and NH don’t allow the placeholder.

    AFAICT, that’s not true (at least in NH). The requirements are different though. For the party to be on the ballot, they need to collect petitions = 3% of total votes cast in the last election. For an individual, you need a fixed 3,000 votes. I believe that the 3% total in NH translates to about 12,000 petitions, so it is clearly easier to get on as an individual.

    For reference, see RSA 655:42.

  14. Someone must represent the interests of the neopagans, damn you!

  15. Being a libertarian is similar to being a Chicago Cubs fan. We may be losers, but we’re not dull.

  16. jtuf | June 20, 2008, 3:57pm | #
    Um, maybe the Libertarian Party should hold it’s convention early enough to have the actual candidate on the ballet access petitions. It seems odd to ask the court to make an aception because we couldn’t pick a candidate in a more timely manner.

    Umm, you do realize that the two big parties have not yet “picked” their candidate, correct? That doesn’t happen until the national conventions. The difference is that many states place extra burdens to getting a spot on the ballot on any party that doesn’t have either a donkey or an elephant as a mascot.

    EDIT: I see that MP beat me to the punch but I will still post this to reinforce the idea that the “recognized” parties have it easier.

  17. One strategy is that — in all states that make it easier to put a name than a party on the ballot — the state chapters can get “George Washington” on the ballot. Then after the convention the nominee can legally change his or her name to George Washington and that name can be placed on the other forty-odd state ballots.


    Of course, choosing which name to prenominate might get a little edgy, causing factions, splintering, and purity arguments. Other possibilities: “Thomas Jefferson”, “Oprah Winfrey”, and “Neither Republican Nor Democrat”.

  18. The Arizona story is a bit different.

    There were two Arizona Libertarian Parties at that time.

    The National LP disaffiliated the existing Arizona LP. Then, it held an election amoung people who were members of the National LP in Arizona, and then affiliated one of the competing Arizona LP’s. That Arizona LP sent a delegation to the National convention that nominated Browne.

    The Arizona Courts finally recognized that other Arizona LP as being “official” in Arizona. That is, having control of the ballot line.

    That faction holding the ballot line nominated L. Neil Smith. The Arizona LP recognized by the National LP didn’t have ballot status.

  19. maybe the Libertarian Party should hold it’s convention early enough to have the actual candidate on the ballet access petitions.

    For many years they did just that, nominating for prez & veep at a convention the year before, that being one of the reasons.

  20. I could not imagine a party becoming more marginalized than the Libertarian Party. Way to exceed expectations!

  21. So Phillies on the ballot means congressional LP candidates can run, but there’s still no way Barr can run? New England politics is so terribly confusing.

  22. I’m voting for the Kurgan.

  23. Of course you are.

  24. This sort of thing just makes you libertarians look foolish.

  25. Bill Woolsey,

    So, which one of them became the Judaen People’s Front?

  26. California is a different situation. The AIP-CA may decide to change affiliation from the CP to America’s Independent Party National Committee (AIPNC). The AIPNC is a new political party that will endorse candidates based upon principle, rather than party affiliation. So AIPNC will endorse good candidates running as Independents or within any other party. AIPNC is creating a new party AND a new political party paradigm.

    http://www.SelfGovernment.US or

  27. Alan Keyes has a new paradigm all right…

  28. The AIP-CA is a racist party. The reason I distrust the CP is that they run as AIP in California. Oh, and I distrust the JBS because they’re always endorsing the AIP candidate.

    If the CP wants to gain any credence and ever get more than a tenth of the 0.5% vote that the LP gets, then they need to repudiate the party that ran George Wallace.

  29. Oh no, what if this costs the LP the election?

  30. In Massachusetts, the nominating papers were legally required to have on them the names of a candidate for President and Vice President. LPMASS, the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts, had the written commitment from the MA Secretary of State that we could do a replacement when we knew who was nominated in Denver. We therefore started petitioning, using a pair of names, namely George Phillies and Chris Bennett. After the convention, I contacted the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s office asking for the form they had promised. They answered ‘no form–no substitution allowed’.

    I contacted my attorney. I then contacted the ACLU. I advised National that there were three sane choices, namely (i) continue petitioning for Chris Bennett and I, (ii) continue petitioning for Chris Bennett and I and litigate for substitution, or (iii) Start over, and toss about 5000 raw signatures of the approximately 18,000 needed. The National Committee and its staff, not I, chose option (ii). It would have been practicable but expensive to follow option (iii) and repetition for Barr/Root.

    My other major task in Massachusetts has been to persuade my electors to agree to substitution, should it be legally possible. Several of them, along with a voting majority of my state committee, are Neopagan or members of the GLBTQ community, are entirely aware that in 1999 Barr tried to organize an Army pogrom against Wiccans at Fort Hood, in the same period wrote DOMA, was an ardent drug warrior, in 2007 campaigned against opposition to prayer in the public schools, in 2007 funded via his PAC many Republican Congressmen including Senator John Sununu of New Hampshire, etc etc etc, and do not find his flip flops on issues to be credible. I had a bit of a challenge here, but have so far been successful.

    Whether litigation will be successful in Massachusetts, let alone on the needed time scale, is not something I can predict.

    In New Hampshire, the LPNH made its candidate decision well over a year ago, so they would have enough time to petition. It was known in advance that New Hampshire does not have candidate substitution, so whoever they chose would be on the ballot. However, New Hampshire for minor parties does not have exclusion, so any other Libertarian candidate who wanted to collect signatures could do so. The LPNH invited all the real candidates–everyone who had declared–to appear at their state convention. I had already promised to be elsewhere, and sent surrogates. I won their nomination.

    As most readers understand, ballot access rules differ from state to state, and differ for major and minor parties (In Massachusetts, “political parties” and “political designations”.)

    Barr/Root will join me on the New Hampshire ballot if they can collect the needed signatures in the available time. The LPNH, based on 2004 experience, concluded that this was not likely to be successful; that’s why they did what they did.

    My presence on the New Hampshire ballot has very nearly no effect on their presence on the ballot; we will both appear as “Libertarian”. My filing the ‘Declaration of Intent’ has absolutely no effect on whether or not Barr/Root can collect the needed signatures.

    George Phillies

  31. Do you all honestly believe Phillies is doing this “accidentally”? If that were the case he’d be screaming bloody murder about this. Instead, he’s making statements like “I’d be honored to serve as the LP NH’s Presidential candidate…”

    This is a deliberate move on his part. He’s causing the LP to expend hugely more resources on yet another ballot drive.

  32. I believe that Mr. Phillies will do the honorable thing and, once Barr is on the ballot in NH, drop from the running.

    I cannot imagine a better way to marginalize our party than by splitting up into little petty factions, withholding ballot access from our nationally chosen candidates.

  33. Eric,

    Wether Dr Phillies drops out or not Bob Barr will have to get the 3000 signatures to be on the NH ballot. He has 43 more days to do that.

    What New Hampshire needs is for a Liberterian Candidate to get 4% of the vote. If there is no presidential candidate on the ballot the odds become zero.

    If Barr fails to get on the ballot, then the smart play is to leave Phillies on and have Barr get up to NH and tell his constuents that a vote for Phillies is a vote for Barr and more importantly a vote to include the Libertarian Party as a major party.

    I realize that some north eastern Libertarians will find Bob’s endorsement of george distastfull. But welcome to politics.

    If I was Congressman Barr I would be on the phone right now asking george how the two of them can play nice for the benefit of the party. Time to unify the party, take a good look at the cards you are holding, keep in mind that we only get a couple of cards to the other parties quarter deck smile and bluff our way as far as we can.

    I wish the best of luck to Dr Phillies, Congressman Barr and the rest of the NH and MA party candidates.

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