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Intrigue and Politicking Between the Presidential Ballots at the Libertarian Party Convention

McAfee sees victory; Petersen sees red; Johnson wants everyone to lighten up.

After Gary Johnson failed to get his first-ballot majority by five votes at the Libertarian Party National Convention today, his campaign whips sprang into action. While I thought they might want to aim at the nine voters for Kevin McCormick, who would be cut from the ballot on second round, I learned later that no one seemed to put too much effort into ferreting out these mystery people. I asked around the California delegation, three of whose members voted for the Arizona family man who works in the tech field.

No one reported any other candidate's whips asking around about hidden McCormick voters. I figured since turning them all would win it for Johnson, it would be a goal for the Johnson team. But as a whip for Johnson told me later, they had bigger fish to fry: Marc Feldman's 58 votes.

Matt Welch//Doherty and McAfeeMatt Welch//Doherty and McAfee

Feldman was one of the first people I ran into moving across the crowded convention hall after the inconclusive first ballot. He stopped mid-dash to tell a McAfee supporter that "I was officially asked to drop out and support Gary Johnson. I said 'no fucking way!'" Feldman did not want to tell me who he might recommend his delegates support if and when he was knocked out.

Feldman had been relatively anonymous in the whole presidential process, until being given enough token ballots to get into the last presidential debate at the convention itself. Gary Johnson himself, I was told by one of his crew, cast the ballot that got Feldman in.

This may have been a strategic attempt to prevent any of the other not-Johnsons from hitting critical mass by siphoning votes to the hilarious and pugnacious Feldman. Indeed, it might have helped with that. Feldman, an anesthesiologist by profession, charmed the hell of the crowd at the debate with a consistent string of funny quips for every occasion that also delivered hardcore libertarian punch, ending with a remarkably impassioned and strangely quite good rap about the other candidates and libertarian activists in general.

Enough people loved him that they tipped their hat respectfully with a first ballot vote, even though almost all of them certainly didn't expect him to win. Feldman himself told me later his plan for victory was to be everyone's second choice, in case no one else was ever a majority's first choice, and that he is ultimately happy enough that Johnson was the victor.

Since Feldman support was perceived by the Johnson team as momentary and more of a tribute than a sincere attempt to make him the nominee, they were who the Johnson whips targeted mostly, and with good effect.

I ran into John McAfee moving about the perimeter of the convention, cheerful and confident and energetic as he is at his best. He thrust his arms over my shoulder and looked me straight in the eyes, smiling and nodding as if to remind me of the times I expressed doubts about his eventual victory. (He was third on the first ballot, with 14 percent, 131 delegates.)

"Now I win," he says. "All the things happening in the backrooms all this time is going to play out." He reeled off a dizzying and quick set of delegate block flips and support shifts that would upend everything and leave him the last man standing. "I will win this thing." (McAfee was correct that Feldman's folks would end up going Gary, but wrong that it wouldn't happen until Feldman was officially taken out of contention for coming in last.)

McAfee's version of whipping his delegates? "I tell people to vote from their hearts," he says as he headed to the hotel bar with journalist Matt Labash while the other campaigns were scrambling around the delegate benches seeking to improve their fortunes in round two. "Gov. Johnson's supporters are soft," he says. But he thinks pulling a single Austin Petersen or Darryl Perry delegate? "Try it. It can't be done."

McAfee thinks even McCormick people would "shoot themselves" before voting for Johnson. Another campaign operative told me that he heard lots of Johnson votes were from people doing a favor for their state party leaders and now that he didn't win first ballot they'd feel free to vote their conscience. No, the governor was not invincible and indeed it was conventional wisdom among many of his opponents' campaigns that if he couldn't pull it off in round one, he never would. It didn't turn out that way.

Are you and Petersen going to ally in some way to bring down Johnson, I ask McAfee?

"Why do you think we hug onstage? Why do I call him son and he calls me father?" But he will not specify who would hand over support to who in such a possible alliance.

Austin Petersen, who came in second on the first ballot with 21 percent, 197 delegates, was visibly tense and angry when I found him at his Missouri delegation table before he hustled off to whip delegates, saying he would try to forge some sort of anti-Johnson coalition.

More importantly, he thought not-Johnsons needed to unite to make sure that William Weld, who Petersen later called a "horrifying statist," did not get the vice presidential nod. He wanted a unity ticket with Johnson, if he won, to include Alicia Dearn, a St. Louis lawyer, as vice president. (Dearn had done ballot access suit work for Gary Johnson's 2012 campaign, and eventually wrote off the hanging debt owed her for her services.) 

I find Johnson being interviewed by a TV crew. In his best bemused shrugging style, he says that, well, maybe his particular politics never fit just right in any particular current party scene, maybe not even this one, though he also says he does believe and always thought of himself and Weld as libertarians. "Hey, it's a contest, lighten up everyone!" he says in a general attempt to lighten the tense, shouty mood on the convention floor between ballots.

Petersen grabbed Johnson from a press scrum outside shortly thereafter. He hadn't heard and didn't seem prepared to heed Johnson's call for lightening up.

Petersen, voice and posture tense, asked Johnson if he really wanted to unify the party? If he did, how could he try to push William Weld on them? Johnson seemed from my perspective to just march away from Petersen, though other reporters heard him tell Petersen that this just wasn't the place for this discussion. (It was in front of dozens of cameras.)

Asked if he could consider going for vice president himself, Petersen, with a background in musical theater, adopted his best noble Roman pose and demeanor and said no, he just could not do that. He lamented that the Johnson campaign had all along ignored calls to put his army of freedom ninjas at Johnson's disposal, and felt "always pushed away" by Johnson. "I'm in this for principle," he says, and thus cannot be swayed by any argument Weld will bring in money or media attention. "Johnson is a good guy," Petersen says, but he cannot tolerate Weld for vice president.

Darryl Perry, the hardcore anarchist who came in fourth with 6.8 percent (63 delegates), told me that if and when he was squeezed out, he would (as McAfee had just told me) recommend his delegates go for the antivirus software developer, and if it got down to Johnson vs. Petersen he would hope true Perry supporters would just vote "none of the above."

The Johnson whip machine, however, did its job too well. They were able to mass texts to their known delegates and had crowds working the floor for face-to-face conversion of people not already their delegates, and brought it home, on the second ballot, with over 55 percent.

"I feel relieved, you have no idea," McAfee said. "I was hoping Austin would win, all I ever wanted was a non-Johnson, but we eat what we have to eat and do what we have to do." McAfee and his vice presidential candidate Judd Weiss both say they intend to continue their "Vote Different" campaign to rebrand and apply the best modern communications tech to the libertarian movement, focusing in the party on potentially winnable local races.

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  • GILMORE™||

    That's not the photo we want to see.

    We want to see the ones from last night's "McAfee Refuses to Concede!"after-party. Hopefully with everyone in a bubble-bath, armed, and sharing from a absurdly ornate Octo-Hookah.

  • Michael Christopher||

    Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    http://www.realcash44.com

  • Winston||

    So Michael Robertson automatically gets a promoted comment on every post? How transparent.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Drop a down vote.

    Oh, wait. You can't.

    How transparent.

  • Winston||

    You can't give him one either....

  • Winston||

    There is no option to reply or to vote up/down for his comments unlike for the regular comments.

  • SIV||

    Winston already made a promoted comment. It was kinda tame

  • Winston||

    That wasn't me.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Sure, Mike.

  • Winston||

    GOOBER BULLY!!

  • SIV||

    I wonder if I can make a promoted comment as "Nick Gillespie"?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The world is your oyster, SIV.

  • Winston||

    If the name hasn't been chosen I suppose

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Do it.

  • GILMORE™||

    all I ever wanted was a non-Johnson

    Xe has my support.

  • GILMORE™||

    The Johnson whip machine

    There was a time when these euphemisms were... subtler.

  • Winston||

    Weld can make Alicia Dearn his aide d'affaires when Hillary and Fauxcahontas give him another Embassy.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I'm getting tired of going through this shit with my family and friends:

    Memorial Day: For people who didn't make it home

    Veterans Day: For people who did make it home, whole or in pieces

  • Winston||

    Playa DOESN"T SUPPPORT TEH TREWPS!!!

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    How do I support dead people.

  • Winston||

    Become an Illinois Democrat?

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    They don't like the troops. Except for Swiss, but he's expatriating soon.

  • SIV||

    You decorate their graves. It's a chick thing

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I don't have anyone to remember. They all came home and lived their lives. Except for a friend on Flight 77, but he doesn't have a grave.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Holy shit, I'm really sorry to hear that.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Well, on a flight like that, you're not going to get any remains. He got a street named after him, though.

  • Winston||

    Whip is a reference to hunting and brings back memories of slavery so the term must be banned to soothe the souls of vegans and blacks.

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    +1 Rachel Dolezal

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Johnson whips.

  • Winston||

    You Know Which Other Johnson whipped people?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Don?

  • __Warren__||

    Randy?

  • ||

    Dakota?

  • kevrob||

    Randy Johnson had a lifetime WHIP of 1.171.

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    Lyndon?

  • Winston||

    +100000 Jumbos

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    Wasn't it said that LBJ "took it out" from time to time and would show it to the press corp?

    Damn. And I thought Bill Clinton was kinky...

  • Winston||

    I recall reading somewhere that he loved to have meeting in the bathroom while he was on the toilet.

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    Yeah, I've read similar things.

    Dude had a fetish?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I suspect it was a power play - "look, I'm such a big-shot I can make you go into the bathroom and watch me take a dump and not dare object."

  • Winston||

    That and to mess with people who found the situation very awkward.

  • Mendelism||

    Dwayne "The Rock"?

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I knew this post could get derailed.

  • Hamster of Doom||

    Could? Doherty did this on purpose.

  • AlmightyJB||

    "Petersen, with a background in musical theater"

    That explains the debates.

  • GILMORE™||

    If they went like this, I'd vote for all of them

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Quincy.||

  • Brochettaward||

    A report too good to be true came out today from the Huffington Post that Hillary is to be indicted on federal racketeering charges for her foundation. It claimed they recovered most of her 30,000 deleted emails and had evidence that Comey plans to use for an indictment. HuffPo deleted the post within hours:
    http://www.breitbart.com/2016-.....t-removes/

  • __Warren__||

    60 Minutes doing a surprisingly sympathetic story on M-Pesa.

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Winston||

    Well Francis Scott Key was a slaveowner...

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    It's mostly the plagiarism.

    It's what I like about you....

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Plagiarism?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Who plagiarized?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Oh, you mean this?

    I wasn't aware of that.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Well, so much for that idea.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Very well, let's see what else I can find...

  • SIV||

    There's only one acceptable alternative as our national anthem:

    Back In the USA

  • SIV||

    The Master and composer basically just phonin' it in

  • SIV||

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    As a single issue voter (still not sure what that is), you're missing the point.

    'Murica or not, the song was stolen.

  • SIV||

    "single issue" = legal cockfighting

    "principled trolling"

  • Quincy.||

    25th century says "Yeah, that guy."

  • Quincy.||

    The original sounds pretty good in French.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    OK, the cajuns can keep this version.

  • Quincy.||

    No, we make the Quebecois sing this.

  • Winston||

    Turdeau Jr. ain't that hot...

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    After that, sex is off the table tonight. Mario Kart, maybe.

  • AlmightyJB||

    If ever there were a national anthem.

    https://youtu.be/wPBTxdHL3tY

  • ||

    If McAfee can get together an independent run, I'll vote for him.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I'll apply to be his personal assistant if the price is right.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I've seen the videos with him and his "personal assistants."

  • GILMORE™||

    He lamented that the Johnson campaign had all along ignored calls to put his army of freedom ninjas at Johnson's disposal,

    I thought that was a cute dig.

    I was wrong.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    An army of 19. Wow.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I hope these are the kind of libertarian ninjas who sneak around and leave you alone.

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I hope too. But there are only 19 stealth likes on Facebook.

    My broccoli farts bring in twice that many likes, and that's without a video.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Such a wonderful image, thank you so much.

  • GILMORE™||

    Noted = they do seem to have borrowed their nomenclature from either the Las Vegas tea-party, or these icky Self-Help Amway-Meets-Scientology Types.

    So, sadly they probably can't trademark "freedom ninja"

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    Amway??? Don't you care about the quality of the products? You can't buy this stuff in stores!!!

  • GILMORE™||

    I've seen Amway recruitment seminars firsthand.

    They are a special kind of horrifyingly gross.

    But at least *most* of the time they don't suggest that the supernatural will bring them Prosperity.

    the freedom ninjas? not so much

    The money and influence that I want and deserve already exist. It’s
    already within the pockets of other people.
    I ask that Creation bring those people to me in order for me to be able to
    serve them as I receive unlimited wealth. I am a hard charger and I
    deserve this.
    I am done with small thinking, lack of planning and lack of discipline. I
    am dedicated to mankind and will make the world a better place because
    prosperity and the truth of my own wealth is also everyone else’s wealth
    that I now share.
    People, places, and things will appear AND HELP ME. I will always be
    used by nature to assist and to add leverage into many people. My
    prosperity is OTHER people’s blessing too.
    I don’t need everyone to like and understand me, because I now detach
    with FAITH. Which is GOD’S way if getting me to receive the bank of
    plenty that I was born to experience and to collect.
    Thank you Thank you Thank you.
    I now speak my world into existence and my attitude and “YES I CAN”
    spirit is contagious.
    Other people will use me to feel worthy themselves about their birthright
    to BE RICH!!!

    Church of The Hard Charger! = they put the *sales* in sale-vation

  • GILMORE™||

    I'm very familiar with the company.

  • John C. Randolph||

    They are a special kind of horrifyingly gross.

    So, where are they on a scale from "time share sales pitch" to "scientology sea org recruitment"?

    -jcr

  • AlmightyJB||

    Way better Mastermind

    https://youtu.be/347M0hcgjcw

  • Clint Eastwoodchipper||

    Petersen grabbed Johnson from a press scrum outside shortly thereafter.

    Come to think of it, I haven't heard of a Mrs. Austin Petersen, or even some girlfriend.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Here is an all-American song whose composer was up-front about his inspiration.

  • McFuckYou (née commodious)||

    Okay, Crusty. That was pretty good.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Thank you.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Labash was there? I can't wait to read his account of the shenanigans and tomfoolery of a Libertarian Party convention.

  • PapayaSF||

    Why Hillary is so helpless in battling Trump:

    They see part of the problem. But they cannot bring themselves to admit what is really going on. Hillary Clinton is playing Margaret Dumont to Donald Trump’s Groucho Marx.

    While Trump is no mere comedian aimed at getting laughs and nothing more, he is mining the same vein of public sentiment that Groucho did: near universal resentment over phony pretentiousness.
  • GILMORE™||

    Key people like Chuck Schumer and Al Sharpton offer their thoughts on what is being done wrong.

    “As soon as she clinches the nomination, we need a high-level person in the campaign whose sole job is to respond to Trump, almost on an hourly basis,” said Mr. Schumer, who has begun conversations with Clinton officials about who could fill that role

    But like her avoiding a last Sanders debate... her attempt to "win" by 'not being hated' and staying *out* of the spotlight.... will fail. It will just continue to cede more and more ground.

    If she gets an attack-dog persona to become a daily Trump-basher, that too will detract from her own profile. its becoming clear to everyone that she can't continue simply playing this part of pretending to be a competent politician, but who is kept shielded at a distance from the public, only engaging when she chooses to.

    To actually win, she'll have to "get real". And they know that while she's mediocre at pretending to be a politician, she's absolutely horrifying as a real person.

    I

  • PapayaSF||

    But what's the "real" Hillary? And who thinks whatever that is, is something that is going to appeal to voters this year? I see her chances shrinking by the week. A recent poll has her losing in Oregon, for heaven's sake.

  • thrakkorzog||

    I kind of have to agree. While Trump is no Groucho, Hillary keeps feeding him straight lines.

  • You Sound Like a Prog (MJG)||

    Was there at least one vote for Dolorous Edd?

  • Playa Manhattan.||

    I was in NYC this week.

    You used to live in paradise. Explain yourself.

  • mfckr||

    Decent article in light of these dismal outcomes:

    http://reformedlibertarian.com.....bertarian/

  • Quincy.||

    Quincy's out of booze. Good night.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The popular music I like doesn't always 100% suit the patriotic mood of Memorial Day.

    Not that it's unpatriotic, just not suitable for the occasion.

    So instead of patriotic songs, what about party songs, by which I mean political party songs to inspire the faithful to get out and vote?

    Here's one. And in case you can't hear the lyrics, here they are.

    I think just every political party can adopt this song.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    ("you can love me" is what is called a euphemism)

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Notorious UGCC||

    And who could forget the libertarian anthem?

  • SIV||

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Shit, it's late.

    OK, one more:

    This isn't strictly relevant to the Presidential candidates, because it presupposes a level of trust in the voter which isn't there. Also, why does his face get blacker as the song progresses?

  • Notorious UGCC||

    presupposes a level of trust *on the part of* the voter.

  • nicmart||

    If McAfee thinks that Johnson is soft, he must not have paid attention to LP candidates at the local level. When they are libertarians at all they assiduously avoid anything that smacks of controversy or, worse yet, radicalism. They are the blandest Republican echoes with a spritzer of self-righteous indignation about two-party corruption. Their battle cry is "eternal ballot access!"

  • Intelligent Mr Toad||

    All this infighting over the Libertarian Party nomination reminds me of the scientists' joke:

    Q: Why is there so much bickering and infighting in academic science?

    A: Because the stakes are so small.

  • american socialist||

    Don't care. Johnson/Weld are going to get 1% of the vote. I'm going for Trump 2016 because he's pro-liberty.

  • Pompey (91% LOLLOLZ)||

    You see, the Chinaman's brain is only wired to decipher logograms. They have immense difficulty in reading, parsing, and writing the Western languages, which is a result of their genetic handicap and inability to reorganize their thought processes appropriately. Isn't that right, racist?

  • eyeroller||

    Is that a joke? I don't get it.

  • Michael Christopher||

    Start working at home with Google! It's by-far the best job I've had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this - 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link, go to tech tab for work detail.
    http://www.realcash44.com

  • Tasha||

    Very articulated.

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