LP Founder Declares Barr Campaign Dead


David Nolan, founder of the Libertarian Party, has had it with Bob Barr's campaign. Why?

There has been evidence all along that the Barr '08 campaign has been mismanaged. Ballot access drives were begun late, and conducted erratically. As of today, it appears that Barr's name will be on the ballot in 46 or 47 states. (Harry Browne appeared on 50 ballots in 1996 and 49 in 2000. Michael Badnarik made it onto 48 in 2004.) Barr has failed to achieve ballot status in West Virginia…and there are lawsuits pending in five states (LA, MA, ME, OK and PA) to determine whether Barr will be on the ballot.

Fundraising has also been a flop. As I write this, the fundraising "meter" on the Barr '08 website shows the total raised by the campaign at $881,500—about $700,000 since the Denver nominating convention. That works out to about $6,400 a day or $200,000/month. In the days leading up to the nomination, Barr's people were throwing around numbers like $20 million. The reality is likely to be barely more than $1 million.

Not only is Barr's campaign inept, Nolan feels, it's also failing even in what outreach it succeeds in in growing the LP brand:

Following advice from his campaign manager, Russ Verney, Barr has avoided use of the "L" word wherever possible. There's a big empty space in the banner at the top of the Barr '08 website, where the word LIBERTARIAN could (and should) appear. It doesn't, despite several suggestions that this be remedied. Barr's campaign literature, signs and bumper stickers do not include the "L" word either. And a press release issued by the campaign earlier this week describes Barr as a "Former Congressman" with no mention of the Libertarian Party.

Clearly, Barr is not running as a Libertarian; he's running as an independent candidate: "Former Congressman Bob Barr." Which may be just as well, given the way he's been behaving.

While some LP activists of my acquaintance think the whole dustup this week over Barr's dissing of Ron Paul's ecumenical "Campaign for Liberty" will cripple him (whatever that means for a campaign clearly never destined to break 1 percent anyway–it did though create this online petition to have the LP's National Committee pull Barr's nomination), I expect most of the hundreds of thousands out there likely to vote Barr or LP probably will little note nor long remember these sort of blog-world dustups; no amount of LP voices speaking out like this are likely to cause Barr to do any worse than he would have anyway.

Still, there was some promise in the Year of Ron Paul that another ex-GOP congressman could do a bit better at ginning up positive publicity, energy, and cash than Barr has so far.