Election 2012

Libertarian Super PAC Appeals To Mainstream, Radical LPers


NEW YORK – As Election Day nears, the head of the Libertarian Action Super PAC, Wes Benedict, remains optimistic that an extremely wealthy benefactor will enrich Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson's coffers.

"We're putting these programs out there so donors can quickly see where their money goes if they contribute," Benedict said during a phone interview. "That's one of our strategies to show what we're doing, have a billionaire come out of the woodwork and fund it. These are scalable things. If you robocall a half-million people it's easy to robocall twenty million people," 

Benedict, the former head of the Texas Libertarian Party, has been working off $100,000 in seed money from Joe Lamont, the CEO of Trilogy. Since his initial donation, the Super PAC has raised about $20,000 according to Benedict.

The Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and the Super PAC system it birthed was a boon to candidates who struggled financially in the Republican primary. It's hard to see how candidates like Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich would have lasted as long as they did without the backing of Super PACs with wealthy benefactors. Even libertarian darling Ron Paul got in on the act with the Revolution Super PAC that was largely funded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

"If the billionaires want to participate they can; I wish they would. We're putting an opportunity together for them," Benedict said.

Benedict's Super PAC is focused on empowering Libertarian activists with cheap materials for GOTV operations as well as basic campaign staples like yard signs and bumperstickers. LASPAC, as it is known, has made doorknockers that appeal to both mainline and radical libertarians.

One doorknocker features a more traditional GOTV appeal of "Have Republicans and Democrats let you down?" The other, more radical doorknocker, was more blunt. "Republicans and Democrats ­suck."

When asked about the more radical one Johnson laughed and said, "It's to the point. They both suck."

Benedict downplayed the doorknockers, which cannot be found on his website, as provocative but harmless.

"I like it because it's memorable, people start talking about it, whether they like it or not. When I showed it to the printer they kind of laugh out loud. The more traditional one, people have overwhelmingly chosen more than the provocative one," he said.

LASPAC is expanding its activities beyond typical campaign materials with the filming of pro-Johnson ads and expected robocalls in swing states like Ohio. They recently finished shooting ads featuring former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura that they hope to run on television stations around the country. A postcard direct mail campaign is in the works, too.

"Ohio is looking like a swing state and we want Gary Johnson to be right there in the middle, and we are trying to raise $20,000 to robocall a half-million swing voters," said Benedict.

Benedict will be happy with Johnson pulling down 600,000 votes because it would be more than the 2008 ticket. The goal, though, is to top the 1980 ticket of Ed Clark and David Koch. Ralph Nader is not around to siphon off the majority of protest votes, as he was in previous elections. Benedict is cautiously optimistic.

"Under 600,000 would be disappointing given that's there are no other third party candidates on the ballot," he said. 

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  1. While world events seem to overshadow the great forward motion Gary Johnson has achieved under terrible odds, he is nevertheless showing up strong in a number of polls. America needs to hear the voice of liberty ala Ron Paul albeit with teeth. We all wish Gary Johnson well and pray that he will be permitted in the debates.

    1. The debates are run by the Republican and Democratic parties via the Commission on Presidential Debates specifically to exclude all other candidates.


  2. Something will be terribly amiss if Gov. Johnson can’t break the million vote barrier this election. The LP will, and should, soldier on in local races but future presidential efforts will not gather much financial or activist support.

    1. I fully agree with this sentiment and I fleshed it out more in my comment below.

  3. Benedict will be happy with Johnson pulling down 600,000 votes because it would be more than the 2008 ticket. The goal, though, is to top the 1980 ticket of Ed Clark and David Koch.

    This is a stupid and shitty goal. Both Johnson + Gray repeatedly tell a story on the stump wherein Gray would only be willing to be a VP candidate if they “ran to win.”

    Everyone with a memory or the combination of Google and a skeptical brain knows that Gary Johnson won’t be the next President.

    But that doesn’t mean we should settle for only trying to receive ~0.5% of the vote.

    The country, as measured by economic conditions, is in the worst shape since the Great Depression. No one is happy with the way things are going. “Government failure” is recognized by everyone, not just fringe wackos. All of this means NEW OPPORTUNITIES FOR LIBERTARIANISM.

    Gary Johnson has radical ideas about jobs, the budget, taxes, peace, schools, drugs, gambling, and prostitution. These are attractive ideas to a significant part of the electorate. Johnson, an impressive and experienced man, explain these as reasonable and common-sense things. Libertarianism isn’t about to take over the world but we don’t have to be the sort of NothingBurger that Benedict thinks is the ceiling on our potential.


    1. Last point: We’re living in a communications Utopia, so we damn well better be able to beat the Dark Ages of the 1980 election. We have YouTube. We have Facebook. We have Twitter. We have the ability to get the message out.

      Bottom line: 2.5% of the electorate or bust. That’s over 2 million votes. It would take competent management but it would be achievable.

  4. So, does anyone actually believe anything a politician says?


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