Las Vegas – After a relatively uneventful president and vice-presidential nominating process, all hell broke loose at the Libertarian National Convention when the Libertarian Party attempted to pick a new national committee chair. The race between current chair Mark Hinkle and vice chair Mark Rutherford fell into disarray when a group of delegates associated with Lee Wrights made a push for the option of None Of The Above.
The selection of "None of the Above," or NOTA, would exclude Hinkle and Rutherford from future rounds of ballots, while opening the race to candidates who can be nominated from the floor. Wrights said he would accept the nomination.
The fight began when Nicholas Sarwark of Colorado pushed for someone to speak on behalf of NOTA. Parliamentary rangling ensued, watch after the jump.
Sarwark, who seconded Wrights in the presidential nomination process, won his fight to speak on behalf of NOTA and delivered the following speech.
Hinkle was eliminated after the first round of voting. But because Rutherford did not receive 50 percent plus-one, it went to a second round of voting. In that second round, NOTA beat Rutherford 273-269. Immediately after the vote was announced a round of boos erupted, and one delegate alleged vote tampering.
LP Secretary Bill Redpath held a revote, and Rutherford came out on top by a handful of votes. This caused more anger on the floor.
After the crowd settled a motion came to the floor to throw out the recount and conduct a third round of voting. It passed with a two-thirds vote.
At press time a third round of voting was ongoing.
Party insiders think this is an attempt to get Wrights in as national chairman.
When asked about it Wrights denied knowing anything.
"I don't know what the hell is goin' on. I was busy running for president. I don't have time for these shennaigans," he said inside the conventional hall.
Wrights said he would accept if nominated for national committee chair.
The man who started this all, Sarwark, said this had nothing to do with Wrights.
"I just wasn't comfortable with the two candidates. This has nothing to do with Lee," he said.
Would Rutherford be an acceptable national chair if NOTA loses?
"I am not gonna cry or get drunk and jump off the roof of the Red Rock if Rutherford wins," he said.
Gary Johnson's campaign chairman, Ron Nielson, described the scene as "wild".
Some background on Hinkle and Rutherford.
Hinkle has been the party chair since 2010. He is a bridge between the philopshical wing of the party and the political wing of the party. Rutherford is from the political wing of the party. During his nomination speech he declared, "We are a major party!" A third candidate from Oregon failed to qualify for the election.
According to one delegate, NOTA has not won in the 20 years that he has been a member of the Libertarian Party.
Update 5:32pm PST—Mark Rutherford has beat None of the Above, 278-275 278-277.
Update 5:48pm PST—A motion to extend the meeting beyond 6pm failed.
Update 5:49pm PST—Redpath calls for adjournment at 6pm. Delegates are challenging his authority to do so. Redpath says there is no winner of the electino and the convention will reconvene tomorrow at 9:00am PST.
Update 5:52pm PST—Motion to overturn the rule of the chair that challenges are dilatory fails.
Update 5:56pm PST—The meeting is adjourned until tomorrow at 9:00am. There will be a fourth rounding of voting for the LNC chair tomorrow morning.