My Take on the Badnarik Announcement

I think Michael Badnarik is making a mistake, but I could be wrong.

First, he has not shown himself to be a hugely successful local candidate. In 2000 he ran in a two-way race for state house and captured 17% of the vote. A very average result. In 2002, he ran for state house again and won 2% of the vote in a 3-way race. Again, nothing particularly impressive about that.

In this Congressional race, he will face a strong incumbent Republican and a Democratic challenger. In a best case scenario, I cannot see him breaking beyond 5%-8% of the vote in this race. If Badnarik truely plans to run for President again in 2008, he needs to either win a race or pull a lot of votes from somewhere.

He should aim lower… a local soil management board or bottom of the ballot city-level office that he could realistically win.

Or… he should aim higher and run for a lower-ballot Texas statewide office. Perhaps run for a seat on the Railroad Commission or heck, even the Texas Supreme Court.

In doing this, he could raise some substantial money (as he probably will for this Congressional race) and put it into state-wide advertising in a low profile campaign where most voters don’t have strong feelings about who they’re voting for.

Look at it this way, in 2004 the race for a spot on the Railroad Commission was between Republican Victor Carrillo, Democrat Bob Scarborough, and Libertarian Anthony Garcia.

I looked up the campaign finance reports. According to them, neither the Republican nor the Libertarian raised or spent any money on the race. The Demcrat spent only about $2,700.

The LP candidate, Anthony Garcia, received 3.6% of the vote. The Republican won the race by 55%-41%.

What if Michael Badnarik had run in this race and spent $50,000? Or even $100,000? He could probably raise it… hell, I’d give him $50 today.

Garcia’s 3.6% in 2004 meant 252,497 votes.

In 2000, Garcia received 740,340 votes in a 3-way race with a Republican and a Green. That’s only about 15%.

What if a Libertarian ran a real campaign for this position? Capturing 30-35% would likely mean more than 2 million votes! He might even win.

Talk about a great spring board for a third party presidential campaign. “Two million people voted for me for Texas Railroad Commissioner…” That’s more votes than Ed Clark’s, Ron Paul’s, and Michael Badnarik’s presidential campaigns…. combined!

42 Responses to “My Take on the Badnarik Announcement”

  1. NewFederalist Says:

    Your suggestion is an excellent one. Why don’t you contact Badnarik and tell him? The Texas Railroad Commission is a custom made race for a Libertarian, by the way. It regulates shipping rates in Texas (including trucking) and gives a Libertarian of ANY persuasion (purist or otherwise) a perfect race to make fools of the status quo.

  2. Matt Sterba Says:

    How can you compare Badnarik’s other local races to this one? We all know that they were basicly “dry runs” just to get a Libertarian on the ballot (his own words). But besides that, how many people in the LP had even heard of Michael Badnarik prior to his 2004 run? Almost no one (outside of his Texas contacts). This might sound stupid, but I think that it’s possible that he’ll raise more money now than he did in the ‘04 presidential race. I made my first donation of $100 this afternoon. This race can be won. The national party and it’s 23,000 members need to step-up and do whatever they can do. Michael’s victory in congress will be a voice for liberty and freedom that will that will send shock waves across the nation.

    P.S. Who will Ron Paul endorse? Badnarik or McCaul?

  3. NewFederalist Says:

    Wow! Matt, I think you are dreaming. This district does not sound like a “target” district. It sounds like it has been gerrymandered to make it safe for a Republican. If Badnarik polls over 20% it would be a great showing especially in a three way race (with nominees of the two dominant parties in the race) but a victory… ? It would be nice but at this point… no way. I agree with Austin, he should attempt a winnable race.

  4. NewFederalist Says:

    By the way, if pressed Dr. Paul would have to endorse the GOP nominee.

  5. ABAsite Says:

    He’ll probably lose, but let’s try and be positive.

  6. Douglas E. Says:

    Ok, I’m positive that he’ll lose. :)

  7. Tim West Says:

    Supporting losing candidates is a not a winning strategy for the LP or a LP candidate.

  8. Matt Sterba Says:

    However the race winds up, even the simplest mind must acknowledge the folly of looking at Mr. Badnariks past races.
    Then, based on those results, determining that his effort over the next fifteen months is of no worth.

    It’ll be interesting to see!

    BTW - I just found this site yesterday and I would like to thank you for what you’re doing.

  9. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Tim, what do you think of Badnarik running for Railroad Commissioner? If I was him, I would jump all over that.

  10. Matt Sterba Says:

    Tim West,

    Please expand on your thoughts about not supporting losing canidates.

    Kindest Regards

  11. Tim West Says:

    Yeah, thats the kind of race that would be EXTREMELY GOOD for him. I’ll give you a second direction: our LP candidate here in West Virginia for Secretary of State which runs the elections process in the state among other duties, recieved 56,000 votes in 2000.

    These type of races are what LP candidates should be running for - not high profile races with 2 major party campetitors.

  12. Tim West Says:

    It’s pretty simple Matt - the Libertarian amount of money can can be raised is very limited. Since we dont have big bucks to raise, we have to spend them where we can most likely elect actual libertarians to office. This requires STRATEGIC PLANNING AS A PARTY, among other things.

    I dont dislike Badnarik, and I gave a couple hundred bucks to his campaign in 2004 - but this was not a good decision.

  13. George Whitfield Says:

    I just made a contribution to Michael Badnarik and will continue to do so throughout his campaign. To win any race you need someone who is ready, willing, and able. Michael is all three. There are many reasons that we can propose as to why a Libertarian candidate should not or cannot do something and many ways to propose how we can do things better. Strategic planning is good but supporting those Libertarians who are ready and willing to run for office is vital.

  14. Liberty for Sale Says:

    [...] I think Badnarik has about a 10% chance of winning the race, if that - and Third Party Watch pretty much sums up my feelings about offices with much better chances of success for Libertarians to run and win in. There are lots of races to go after besides the most obvious ones in the country every year. This is where some top down direction from National could make a difference - identifying the most winnable races over the country per election cycle and giving the info to the State LP’s so they could recruit the best candidates in time to run credible campaigns and target those races. [...]

  15. Tim West Says:

    George - I’ll give him some money this time as well - but to know going in that he most likely wont win no matter what we do isnt the best way to go. I dont see much evidence that he will be successsful on it’s face.

    I repeat - all any person would have to do to defeat Badnarik would be to point to his past and declare it to be “extremist” and the job is done. Only in the LIbertarian Party is such a thing not only encouraged but rewarded - once you step outside the LP microcosm , it’s 100% reversed.

    He’ll be ignored at first - and then if he does show traction, they will take the LP platform and his IRS and driver’s license issues and beat him senseless with it.

  16. Lex Says:

    A local soil management board? Are you serious? He was a Presidential candidate in 2004, and earned 397,000 votes. Don’t insult the man.

    He is very well known in Austin, and we know he will work as hard as humanly possible to win. What are his chances? A lot higher if we help out as much as we can.

    The 10th district is right next to the 14th, Ron Paul territory. Austin is one of the most libertarian cities in America, I would guess.

    A statewide office would be okay, but would cost a lot more money and a lot more travel. People don’t pay attention to them, and just vote their party anyway.

    Every state in the union should have a Libertarian Secretary of State though—the LP could sell it as a fairness thing, since we dislike Democrats and Republicans equally.

  17. Tim West Says:


    there’s no disrespect intended - but no one I see here suggested a soil management board. A high level State legislative position would have been best choice I think. He could have outspent any competition for those positions. I dont believe he’ll win this race, but I hope I’m wrong.

  18. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Actually, I did suggest it in the post… and I’ll stand by the suggestion. A local soil and water race is completely winnable.

    The point of a Railroad Commissioner race would be that people usually vote based on blind name recognition. Badnarik is not a candidate that can seriously contest a race… his past is too weird and crazy.

    He received 397,000 votes for President? A Libertarian with ballot access and a paper bag over his head could probably pull 300,000 votes… it’s not as if he accomplished any great feat there. He was, at very best, a mediocre LP Presidential candidate.

    Winning a local elected office of any sort would be a big boost to his credibility in my eyes.

    I would be just about willing to bet anyone on here $100 that if it’s a 3-way race with the Republican and a Democratic challenger who’s not totally insane, Badnarik won’t pass the 10% mark. Even if he spends $100,000.

  19. Joey Dauben Says:

    Guys, while you argue over statewide vs. nationwide, let me fill you in on who this McCaul guy is: he’s the heir to Clear Channel.

    If any of you believe Badnarik - not bashing Michael, I love the guy personally - has a shot against McCaul and Clear Channel money and advertising, then prepare to pony up some mega bucks.

    I’m predicting a 4% return on this race, if it ends up being a three-way contest. I don’t see why Badnarik couldn’t have run for governor; there’s no way Kinky Friedman will get on our ballot in time (I live near Dallas), and plus, voters might remember Badnarik’s name from the ‘04 race.

    I hope Badnarik shows well like the next guy, but Michael McCaul is simply the biggest hurdle in Texas in my opinion. Not only that, but he’s a freshman-incumbent. Last time one of those lost was when Chris Bell did it last year. He’s now running for governor - as a Democrat.

    There’s my $0.02.

  20. Joey Dauben Says:

    By the way, anybody know what Gary Nolan’s up to these days? Did he land a radio gig? I was his student coordinator during the run-up to the convention, but quickly (and rightly) switched to Badnarik’s camp.

    Also, anyone else hearing of Aaron Russo putting together a Michael Moore-type documentary on the IRS/income tax or whatever?

  21. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I’ve heard rumors from more than one person about a Russo documentary that’s being pieced together right now.

    No idea what Gary Nolan is up to… though I’d be interested to find out if anyone else knows.

  22. NewFederalist Says:

    I would have to agree with Joey Dauben’s assessment. In a 3 way race with a Republican and a Democrat I would not expect Michael Badnarik to poll over 5%. I don’t mean to sound negative but I believe that is realistic.

  23. Carl Milsted Says:

    I do not think Badnarik would win, but I think this is a very good thing for the LP. The LP needs to get into the habit as an institution of running their A-Team candidates farther down the ticket than president or statewide. They desperately need to be willing to focus national money into lower level races. A very effective way to do this is to have our national candidates run lower down after their presidential bid.

    I have personally asked Harry Browne and Jo Jorgenson to do this to no effect. Badnarik made this decision without my urging. I will send him something.

    I have great disagreements with some of Badnarik’s positions; he is far to radical. However, he presents his case extremely well, is a very hard worker, and plays well with others. He is the best the unreformed LP can come up with. (OK, being rich would also help.)

    On the big plus side, being radical is far less a hinderance for U.S. Congress than it is for an executive position. People know that a legislator will be offset by other legislators, so extremism is not dangerous. We have historically had some pretty extreme characters in our legislature, ranging from klansmen to commies. For president, people demand someone closer to the center.

    As for district targeting, it is hard to target for U.S. congress. Most of these races are at least nominally contested between the major parties. The great opportunity for two-way races is for state house. Last I checked, about 40-50% of the lower Texas legislature went uncontested.

    The best you can hope for in the U.S. Congress is a heavily gerrymandered district where on major candidate is much stronger than the other. If this is a heavily Republican district, libertarian-conservatives can feel comfortable casting a protest vote for Badnarik. Peaceniks might go for Badnarik knowing the Democrat cannot win. If Badnarik gets a huge amount of support from the LP nationally, he might end up being in the position of being the lesser of two evils in the minds of peacenik democrats.

    No, I don’t think it will play out this way. I am merely pointing out that he is better off in a lopsided district than one which is truly contested.

  24. Allen Hacker Says:


    To those of you who’ve already sent in something, and those who’ve promised to or intend to: I thank you.

    To those of you who yield every day to “reality”, I ask you to reconsider, to open your minds a bit wider.

    Most everything these days, and the LP in particular, runs wholly on opinion rather than substance. For my part as Badnarik’s campaign manager and 2004 CA Coordinator, and as a lead architect of a former-party team that elected something like 34 people to a state’s legislature in a single campaign and took both houses away from the dominant party that year (and held them and took the Governor’s chair the next election), I’ve decided not to let opinion rule. Unless any of you can match my past performance, I’ll continue to assume that I’m more qualified to structure and run Michael’s campaign than you are.

    Of course, if you want to, you can help, we are recruiting….

    No offense, I appreciate that you’re all at least interested, but for the LP and for everyone in its constellation, the time has come to replace talk with action.

    That’s what we’re doing. Action, money, a little anomaly here and there, history is made in this manner.

    Note that it doesn’t matter a whole lot whose money the incumbent married into. He’s going to be just as hamstrung by the BiPartisan Campaign Reform Act as anyone else. And frankly, it doesn’t do him a lot of good to be looking like he bought the seat with his wife’s (father-in-law’s) money.

    As for Michael’s positions, you may prepare to be pleasntly surprised here and there as we work our way through updating the website. And even if not, he has one thing on his side that no megaparty candidate will ever have: total consistency in the exercise and defense of freedom. The incumbent was a US Attorney under the so-called Patriot Act. The megaparty challenger form the other faction of the power elite is reportedly a former exec of the EPA. These guys are prima facie vulnerable.

    This race will not be run as a standard Libertarian candidacy. We’re serious, and we intend to do everything ethically possible to win. No half-measures, no hedging, no yielding to anyone’s “reality”.

    This is America. The land of opportunity and anomalies. Michael can win this race.

    Thanks for your consideration. (And your time/money!)

    Allen Hacker,
    Campaign Manager, Badnarik for Congress


  25. Douglas E. Says:

    “The megaparty challenger form the other faction of the power elite”

    Dude… you couldn’t just say “the Democrat”? That’s why Libertarians never win anything.

    And I can’t figure your logic. The Congressman with deep pockets and the former EPA official are vulnerable to Mike Badnarik why again? Because they’re powerful?

  26. IO ERROR Says:

    Michael Badnarik runs for Congress

    Michael Badnarik, the Libertarian Party candidate for President in 2004, is running for Congress in 2006 in the 10th Congressional District in Texas.


  27. Allen Hacker Says:

    Hi Douglas,

    Can’t figure my logic…? Then it’s working.


  28. Kyle Says:

    Is there, in fact, a Democrat running in the district this go-round? Someone mentioned EPA? Name of the candidate, please?

    There was NO Democrat last cycle, and the Libertarian pulled 15%. A better-known candidate like Badnarik could do much better.

  29. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Ted Ankrum is the Democrat. He’s probably not much competition for the sitting Republican congressman, but… he’s not a clown, either.

    Some biographical items taken from his website…

    > Deputy Head of the EPA Superfund Program
    > Deputy Head of NASA Facilities Engineering and Environmental Compliance
    > NASA Representative to Australia w/ Diplomatic Status during Clinton administration
    > Four tours in Vietnam, Purple Heart and Bronze Star

  30. Glockem Says:

    Ted Ankrum?

    EPA Superfund has been a colossal waste of taxpayer money and a deep pocket for trial lawyers he’s probig spending for sure.

    NASA has lost credibility in the space program. Private endeavors have met with greater success and with less money.

    Ted Ankrum would be an anchor for District 10

  31. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Sure, I don’t think he would be a good Congressman… he’d be a terrible Congressman, probably.

    That doesn’t mean that his record of military and government service won’t look better than Badnarik’s “self-employed computer technician and sky-diving instructor” in the local newspapers of the district.

    It’s all about being taken seriously, and Ted Ankrum will be more-or-less taken seriously enough as the Democratic candidate to make this a tough race for a Libertarian to gain much ground in.

  32. NewFederalist Says:

    Nearly ANY Democrat will be taken more seriously than a Libertarian. Sorry for stating the obvious but that is a fact.

  33. Allen Hacker Says:

    Pundits, pundits everywhere, but nary an accomplishment in sight.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but if you guys spent as much effort contributing as you do investing in your opinions, THEN you’d be dangerous.

    We need: vlunteers and contributions.

    We don’t need: Out-of-the-loop naysayers.

    We (I) don’t have: time to debate angels and pins.

    Wanna help? You know where to find me. Otherwise….

    See you on the other side.


  34. NewFederalist Says:

    Allen- See you on the other side! Prove me wrong. I want to be wrong. Sadly, I am not. I spend lots of time and money but what the hell… Just prove me wrong.

  35. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I’ve managed a winning local campaign before, and there are numerous other successful folks at different levels on here. So don’t completely dismiss everyone who posts their opinion. No one is insisting that you continue to respond and debate us, so if you’re too busy running this campaign… by all means, get back to it.

    I don’t dislike Michael Badnarik, but I think this is the wrong race for him to run in. Some agree with me, some disagree. That’s all fine. This website is designed to cover third parties and third party candidates, just as much as it is to cheerlead for them.

    If I spent my time contributing instead of talking? Contributing to what, exactly? I’m not a Texan, and I’m more a Republican than a Libertarian at this point. As an experienced political operative, I’m sure you’re used to having people with no direct stake in a race talk about it.

    I feel like I’ve seen this show before. The Libertarian Party is the party of principle. But that principle has been, essentially, “big promises and small results” for 25 years.

    Really, I wish you the absolute best of luck and I sincerely hope you prove me wrong. If things start looking credible I might even donate a couple of dollars. I just wish he had picked an office he could actually win, that’s all.

  36. Allen Hacker Says:


    Let me back off a bit. I see my posts read even more harshly that I feared. I don’t want to b the make-wrong guy, that’s the kind of thing to which I’m objecting.

    I believe we’ve made a good choice. I believe we can suprise you. I believe. All you can do is watch.

    But of course I can’t reveal the reasons or the strategy. I’m sure you understand.


  37. Fred Butcher Says:

    I was hoping that Mike was serious about this. However running for Congress from Autin, but making his announcement in KC, and for all practical purposes (I hear) living in Grapevine, makes me concern.

    Someone please make mee feel better

  38. Jake Says:


    On Michael’s blog he says the following.

    “Why are you announcing your candidacy for a Texas seat in Missouri?

    (Three reasons:

    A: I was already scheduled to present my Constitution class in conjunction with the Libertarian National Committee meeting, held this weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.

    B: I needed an audience, and it seemed fitting that the people who volunteer their time to perform the necessary business for the party might be interested enough to listen.

    C: I was developing a rash trying to keep it a secret any longer, so Allen Hacker, my campaign manager, decided I should announce as soon as possible - “for health reasons”)

    Comment by Eric — 8/7/2005 @ 12:11 am”

  39. George Phillies Says:

    Badnarik, on the core issues in his book, is in no sense a LIbertairan, he is a collector of right wing crackpot theories about, e.g., there not being a current legal obligation to pay income tax or have an operator’s license if you want to be a Texan and drive a car.

  40. undercover_ararchist Says:

    I think Badnarik running for Congress is a great idea. Nationwide, people don’t care about the Texas state offices. Badnarik will garner a modicum of nationwide attention, inspire people from around the country to donate to his campaign, and if he can even post a double-digit %, he will bring a lot of attention to the LP. In fact, even a strong showing of 10,000 or more votes would be an accomplishment.

  41. Steve Says:

    The only accomplishment when running for a office is to win. To continually get excited about loosing if the candidate get

  42. Third Party Watch » Blog Archive » “…send us every penny you can afford…” Says:

    [...] This may have been partially aimed at me, and I’ve already spent a lot of time explaining why I strongly disagree with their choice. [...]

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