The Libertarian Party Picks Some New Leaders


Over the Memorial Day weekend, the Libertarian Party met in St. Louis to elect new officers and conduct other official business. Unlike in some past years, I did not directly cover the convention, but the St. Louis Beacon did. Here are excerpts from its take, in which 2008 VP candidate and presumptive front-runner for the 2012 presidential nod, Vegas's own Wayne Root, failed in a bid to become party chair:

more than 500 delegates from around the country selected a new party chairman in a battle that exemplified the tug between two party factions: one camp favors reaching out to the socially conservative Tea Party movement, and the other side preaches standing firm on longstanding libertarian principles.

As Missouri delegate Julie Stone of St. Louis put it: "The big bone of contention is whether the party should remain as pure or become more inclusive."

Personifying the big-tent approach was Wayne Allyn Root—an effusive, unapologetic self-promoter…

Accompanied by an ever-present film crew (it's shooting a reality show that Root said would air "only if I'm elected"), he admitted upsetting some by preaching a more-inclusive message that he said will move the Libertarian Party into the nation's political mainstream.

"If I move this country toward Libertarians, I'm the most radical person here," Root said in an interview…

Although leading in the early rounds of balloting, Root—the Libertarian Party's 2008 vice presidential nominee and now a cable TV regular—ended up as the runnerup to Mark Hinkle, a veteran Libertarian from California.

The two were among five contenders who battled for support from the 540 delegates all Sunday afternoon. Outgoing chairman William B. Redpath remained neutral.

Hinkle won out, says [chair of the Missouri LA Glenn] Nielsen, because "he was the least polarizing candidate on the ballot."

In a telephone interview afterward, Hinkle quipped that he won because "I was everybody's second choice." During the three rounds of ballots, the lowest vote-getter was forced out. Most of those losing candidates' supporters then defected to Hinkle.

Hinkle, 59 and a small businessman, said he campaigned as a uniter. But he emphasized that, as chairman, he won't shy away from the Libertarian Party's longstanding platform.

Root—who had campaigned to be the party's "chief enthusiast, cheerleader, rainmaker, man-about-town"—declared in his concession speech, "Ladies and gentlemen, you can't get rid of me."….several delegates told Root that they hoped he'd be their presidential nominee in 2012.

Whether Root is in fact "more inclusive" than other libertarians depends on what sort of folk one wants to be inclusive to, and Root definitely aims at a more traditional Right. In one encouraging sign, the LP's traditional fundraising banquet at the convention drew nearly $55,000, far better than usual for non-presidential race conventions.

The Independent Political Report sums up the last day's officer elections for at-large seats on the Libertarian National Committee, and for its Judicial Committee, as well as detailing the results in the treasurer and secretary races, the vice chair race, and the most prominent chair race, with ballot-by-ballot breakdowns. The comment threads on all those posts are interesting for LP internal warfare fans.