“…send us every penny you can afford…”

I know some people are going to hammer me on this, but I don’t care. I think Michael Badnarik is probably a good guy, I think his campaign manager is probably a good guy… but I take issue with a number of the claims made in this recent fundraising email that I received. Some of it’s good, and I’ll try to be as fair as humanly possible.

Here, I’ve republished it as received and cut in with my own comments as I go along…

October 10 2005

Hello, Friends and Cohorts!

Allen Hacker here. I’m Michael Badnarik’s campaign manager for his Badnarik for Congress campaign in 2006. He’s running for the Texas District 10 seat in the US House of Representatives. Some of you may remember me as the California coordinator for Badnarik for President in 2004.

Based on percentage, Badnarik’s performance in California was the worst of any Libertarian Presidential candidate that’s ever appeared on the ballot in that state.

That’s right; just like many of you, I’ve been on the bandwagon one way or another since the day I met Michael. And you already know why.

Michael has a sincerity about and command of his subject that few professionals ever achieve. Sure, it was impossible for him to satisfy everyone’s ideas about how he should make his run for the presidency, but he did do one thing you just don’t see in a major political candidate: he laid out his principles and he stayed with them no matter what anybody thought of him.

True, and he did a pretty good job considering his situation.

He’s always lived what he believes, despite the costs, and he’s neither sorry nor apologetic, even when it meant that he could not submit to government controls that almost everyone else takes for granted. He’s made the sacrifices his sense of right and wrong have required of him. In an imperfect world where even most Libertarians find reason to compromise, I call that integrity.

Refusing to pay taxes or get a driver’s license is not a good thing for a Congressional candidate, “integrity” be damned.

Michael and I discussed which office he would run for well before we announced his candidacy for Congress. Some have expressed dismay that he is not running for Texas Governor as previously discussed, while others have been disappointed that he did not choose a “safe” race to guarantee that he’d be elected. I’d like to tell you why we didn’t choose either of those routes.

First, the Texas Governor’s race. In the last election, the challenger outspent the current incumbent some $62million to $38million - and lost! That’s a $100million contest. If we raised the entire amount that we raised in the presidential campaign, we’d only have 1% of the race. Even if we were twice as effective at absolutely everything as the megaparty candidates in the next Texas governor’s race…. Let’s face it. In that arena, it would simply be irresponsible of us to ask you all for another million dollars in return for one or two percent of the vote potential.

Right on.

What about a “safe” seat, like Railroad Commissioner or state assembly? Well, at least Railroad Commissioner is a statewide race and could have a favorable result in the vote tallies required to preserve the LP’s ballot status in Texas. But I ask you, how seriously can an ex-presidential candidate be taken when he comes back running for local or unknown offices? What would that do to the next Libertarian candidate for President?

No, we couldn’t do that, either.

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.

So we looked around. We studied the numbers and realities in several races within reach of Michael’s home, Austin Texas. And Yes, we looked outside the state as well. And we found what we think could be the perfect opportunity

Right there in northeastern Austin and extending along Highway 290 to western Houston, and including a huge chunk of Ron Paul’s old district, we found Texas Congressional District 10. Texas was redistricted between the 2002 and 2003 elections, and Ron Paul lost the entire northern section of his constituency to the new District 10.

The current incumbent is a delightfully-vulnerable Republican who has never held office before and wouldn’t be holding this one were it not for his wife’s money. He’s a former Patriot-Act federal prosecutor, he’s a huge fan of George Bush, he loves the Patriot Act and did everything he could in committee and in the House to extend it. He would make it permanent if he could. And he’s very proud of the fact that he created a program that has jailed over a thousand people for keeping and bearing arms.

This man is no friend to the constitution. And the voters in his district are screaming for an alternative. Of course, the Republicans aren’t going to give them one. Neither are the democrats; they’re afraid of his family’s money. The only Democrat in the race is a non-starter: another career government employee (a NASA engineer) who never saw a giveaway he didn’t love. And he doesn’t have any money.

I’m not sure how vulnerable a guy with an unlimited personal fortune is, that’s using some weird logic there. He also has the backing of the governor, both senators, and an army of local officials. The Pink Pistols won’t cut it in this situation.

It took the Democrat a couple of months to raise the first $5,000.00 to qualify as a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) recognized candidate. We did it in a few days: We opened the initial campaign account on July 31, announced the campaign at the LNC meeting in Kansas City and on the website on August 6th, hit the $5000.00 reporting threshhold less than two weeks later, and filed with the FEC on September 3, 2005. Our official Committee ID is C00414615.

Already, well over a hundred of you have contributed more than $29,000.00! Hoo-aah!

Those are fairly impressive numbers and suggest that this could be worth watching if Badnarik can raise $100,000 or more and actually get some television spots on the air.

However…

As a result, we have re-rented the same office (less a few extra rooms) that we had for the 2004 presidential campaign; we have a state-of-of-the-art Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol telephone system; the office is fully furnished; we have already begun building a dedicated paid staff; and, I have leased a house just east of town (at my own expense!) so I can be there.

A state-of-the-art telephone system? A fully furnished office? These seem like big expenses for a campaign with not that much money. Why not save the money and buy billboards to boost his name ID or saturate local talk radio for a week next October? Nifty phones are nice… but they don’t win votes.

Of course, there is so much more to do, and so much money needed to do it. But before I get into that, let me tell you what I see in this campaign.

First, I see in the incumbent a vulnerable opponent. Despite his money, he can lose. For one thing, the money is tainted, and in the course of this campaign it will turn from being his power to his embarrassment. Worse for him, he’s just plain wrong on the really important issues. Not just as Libertarians see it, but as Republicans see it too. Best for us, not only did he only pay $2.25million for the seat last election, he only raised a little over $600 thousand; the rest he needed family help for. This time, with the money burning a hole in his image, he’s going to be in trouble.

Second, I see in our challenge a winnable proposition. The constituency is hopping mad according to my Republican sources, and they’ve told me that if Michael were to run as a Republican he would wax the guy in the primary. It would all be over but the paperwork in March or April. So we have a candidate who is already acknowledged as a potential winner in that particular district. Remember, we’re already inheriting some 32% of it from Ron Paul. All we need to do for their share of the vote is to let them know we’re in the race.

That’s strange math, it almost suggests that Badnarik has a lock on a third of the district, but there’s nothing at all to back that up. Ron Paul is a Republican, and wins as a Republican. He would not be in Congress if he was a Libertarian on election day.

Of course, one must never underestimate the way of things. It’s not like Michael can just stand on a corner waving a sign, “Honk if you love Liberty!”. (Although, if I asked him to do it, he would!) It’s going to take a real strategy, real performance and real follow-through.

You already know that Michael can perform. Not to detract from anyone who came before, but it is well settled that no Libertarian candidate for President ever worked harder than Michael did. And I can tell you now, nothing has changed. He is in this to win. We all are.

Hard work is nice, but Badnarik only got 0.32% of the vote… nothing outstanding by Libertarian standards. Worse than Browne in 1996 and 2000, but better than Marrou in 1992.

We have the drive, we have the will of the voters, and we have the circumstances. We’ve developed a winning platform and grassroots strategy, attractive business cards, a very nice and noticeable bumper-sticker, and yard signs and brochures are in the immediate future, as the budget permits. And we have you.

This emailing is going out to more than 12,200 of you. Over half of you are past donors; many are current donors as well. A few of you have already sent in the maximum you can contribute before the nomination ($2100.00). But whether or not you’re a past or future donor, or your name is only on our list because you requested a bumper sticker last time around, I believe you all have something deeply in common with Michael and all of us here at Badnarik for Congress: You’re ready for the LP to start having a solid impact; you’re more than ready to help elect an articulate Libertarian to serious office where he can’t be ignored by the press.

Note than none of this even begins to discuss what could happen for a few local candidates running for the Texas statehouse on our oh-so-visible coattails!

Show me a poll that says voters are unhappy with their Congressman. Give people something real to base these claims on.

How ready are you? Are you ready enough to send us every penny you can afford to part with? Right Now?! And then do it again in the second cycle of the election after Michael has secured the LP Texas District 10 Congressional nomination? Because if you are, we can do this.

:-/

If you will help us lay the background with the first $million, I have every reason to believe I can leverage that achievement into a few more. It takes money to make money in business; same thing in politics, it takes money to raise money. And if my track record in business consulting translates as well as it should to campaign management, I should be able to massage that first million into three or four, given the time.

Sure….. it’s easiest thing in the world. If you rub money just right, it’s sure to double overnight!

If ever time was money, this would be then.

Okay, okay, some of you have more spare pennies than the $2100 limit per cycle. No problem—I’ll settle for just that much from those of you! IF you’ll get a few friends together and persuade them to help us out as well. After all, it is in your best interests to stop being alone in this quest.

As for everyone else, let me tell you that only 6,500 people contributed an average of maybe $160.00 each last time around to raise over a million dollars. This mailing is going out to almost twice as many as that. And that was for a presidential campaign that maybe only five people in the entire country dared to dream we could win. Certainly, you must be interested in making it happen in a winnable congressional district in predominately rural Texas where people who don’t own a gun are thought a little bit odd.

So here’s how we get that first million. We don’t count on the few who can afford the maximum, we only rely on them for the foundation. The rest of you, over the next month (but starting right now, today, send us $40-$100 a week for one month. That will do it. You can do that right on the website using a credit or debit card.

Yes, I see the numbers: $40-$100 a week for a month averages out to something more than $160.00 each. Of course it does. But there are some among you who just don’t have much money right now. Some are students, or struggling first-jobbers. Some have more mouths to feed than dollars to do it with. So some of you will be doing well to send $5 or $10 even once. That’s okay, we’ve already received a few $5 contributions through the website, and we appreciate them in their own context just as much as any other contribution.

The rest of you, where you can, have to pick up the slack. And if most of you do that, well…. won’t it be something when we raise even more than that first million?!

This is all possible, if we all just pull together. After all, we are all in this mess together, and none of us is getting out alone. So let’s do it. I’ve got staff here who’ve readily detoured their lives for the next year to help make this happen for no profit other than to have made it happen. Michael, and Jon Airheart of course, are in it just as perfectly as they always have been. And I’ve been closing down and revamping my business and LP activities in California to spend most of my time in Austin, to give it my all too.

Just imagine it for a moment. It will be better than two Ron Pauls in Congress, because each will reinforce and amplify the other. There will be a fourfold voice for liberty and responsibility stalking the halls in Washington.

It will be the end of the nay-saying and the beginning of the realization of our Libertarian promise to the world: not oppression and bankruptcy, not political slavery and lies, but Freedom. It will be the beginning of winning.

So in part, this campaign is to put an end to the belief that Libertarians can’t win. This will completely change the political landscape in America. That’s why I need every bit of help you can give me to get Michael elected to Congress in 2006.

I know you’re ready. Let’s get to it. Go right now to the www.badnarik.org website, click on that Donate or Contribute button, and help accelerate this soon-to-be runaway train.

You’re gonna be really glad you did!

Allen Hacker

Campaign Manager, Badnarik for Congress

http://www.badnarik.org

Honestly I’d much prefer a pitch that highlights real numbers (we outraised the Democrat), frames things realistically (it’s going to be an extreme uphill fight, but it’s worth it), and doesn’t make claims it can’t back up.

Now you may flame away and call me an idiot and tell me that I’m wrong, and I probably am… but these types of fundraising letters just drive me nuts.

For years I would get them from the LP headquarters on bright colored paper and they’d outline how if only 1,000 people gave $1,000 or 500 people gave $2,000, and on and on. They were filled with fuzzy numbers, outlandish scenarios, and claims backed up with vague anecdotal evidence… and closed with a hard sell demanding I do my duty for liberty and empty my checking account or else the Constitution would explode in a ball of flames.

Anyway…

22 Responses to ““…send us every penny you can afford…””

  1. rj Says:

    “What about a “safe” seat, like Railroad Commissioner or state assembly? Well, at least Railroad Commissioner is a statewide race and could have a favorable result in the vote tallies required to preserve the LP’s ballot status in Texas. But I ask you, how seriously can an ex-presidential candidate be taken when he comes back running for local or unknown offices? What would that do to the next Libertarian candidate for President?

    No, we couldn’t do that, either.”

    Flip this question around. What would it do to the next Libertarian candidate for President if the previous one got 5% in a U.S. house race?

  2. Randy Edwards Says:

    The mistake made by Bednarik is in running against a Republican in Texas. He needed to find a Democrat that didn’t have a Republican opponent. That’s rare, but does happen.

    In 1998, a Libertarian ran against Republican Sam Johnson in Plano and got less than 10% of the vote. That same year, Libertarians faced off against Democrats in two other races and got 14 to 18% of the vote.

  3. Otto Kerner Says:

    “integrity be damned”

    Hmmm, perhaps this can become the new Libertarian Party slogan.

  4. George Whitfield Says:

    I have contributed to Michael Badnarik’s campaign for congress and will continue to do so. I am with him. We can win this. Let’s do it.

  5. George Phillies Says:

    “integrity”

    Libertarians should read Badnarik’s book, carefully, before believing that he is a libertarian. His stands on drivers licenses (where he obviously does not state correctly the case he quotes), the income tax, commander in chief of the armed forces, money, and a long list of other issues are from an eccentric wing of the Constitutionaloid right, not the libertarian party.

  6. George Phillies Says:

    However, it is the fault of the delegates that they voted for a Presidential candidate who was known to have almost no money and no campaign organization. It is not surprising that he did so badly in California.

  7. Otto Kerner Says:

    Incidentally, I agree completely with Mr. Phillies’ comments about Badnarik’s constitutionaloidism and the ‘04 delegates’ culpability. Just so, those are the problems, rather than an excess of integrity.

  8. Lex Says:

    If Badnarik really could wax the Republican in the primary, why the heck doesn’t he do it? Most voters don’t pay much attention to Congressional races—they just show up on election day and vote for the incumbent, or the person with the party label they recognize, Democrat or Republican.

    It would be a tremendous victory to send someone to Congress as a Libertarian Party candidate for the first time, but the odds of sending a libertarian Republican are a lot higher.

    I like the billboard idea—it’s a cost effective way to build name recognition. Put up Michael’s smiling mug, his name, website, and one short, simple message that voters care about, changing the message every month. Ads on the sides of city buses would be good too.

    As for the ‘04 convention, many of the delegates were inspired to go to Atlanta by Michael’s 29,000 mile cross-country trek. When a party chooses its delegates largely by finding out who wants to go to the convention, a popular grassroots candidate can win, especially if he outshines his better funded opponents in the debate.

    The TV ad the Badnarik team rolled out in Atlanta was an incredible surprise, too. He LOOKED presidential in it. Too bad they abandoned it for some other ads later that didn’t feature the candidate as prominently.

  9. R. Paul Says:

    Even a quick reading of Badnarik’s published campaign materials shows him to be a conservative populist, not a libertarian.

    Regrettably, the apparetnly LP has lost its ideological way, both on the national level and in some of the states as well. It now is following a different ideological compass: one that points to the Right no matter what.

    According to the positions taken by the NJLP candidate for governor as set forth on his website, he is a conservative populist as well.

    I understand a new political party is forming in New Jersey based upon actual libertarian ideas. Long overdue.

  10. Joey Dauben Says:

    Realistically, party labels matter.

    And to the average voter, there are only two parties. That’s why I’m running as a Goldwater-Ron Paul Republican (against Joe Barton in the March 7 primary).

    But I am actually excited to see the progress of Badnarik’s campaign. I witnessed it, and helped out, in his presidential race. He was by far the most active LP presidential candidate I’ve ever heard or read about (besides maybe Ed Clark, but in ‘80, I wasn’t even born yet) because he actually did something with the contributions he received.

    Badnarik paid for TV, radio ads, signs, literature. That was a real campaign, even if the LP didn’t crack 1%.

    And besides, with Nader still on the ballot, how could you expect anything above 1%?

    Anyway, even though I’m now strictly a Republican, I still think it’s an exciting time for those Libertarians out there, because what other third party has had that much of an early success? McCaul shouldn’t be worried about his Democratic opponent.

    He needs to be watching out for the third opponent in the race. But remember, people vote party label over and over again.

  11. NewFederalist Says:

    I want Austin to comment on ALL Libertarian Party and Constitution Party fundraising appeals. (I only get those plus the D’s and R’s) You could get quite a following by being logical and sensible!

  12. esso Says:

    Gosh Austin, you don’t think that cool phones, motivational emails, and pretty business cards will win the race? Why, you’re nuts! You must be one of “them” - those people who always tell the LP they can’t “RUN THEIR BEST RACE NOW”.

    (leans over table, grinning insanely)

    Now, buy my crazy book! LOL

  13. Tim West Says:

    it was Michael’s insistance on reporting on and being generally supportive of the 861 tax protestors that led me to publically not support him for his current race. Such inclinations are what has led to the public image of the LP as cranks and tax protesters. I dont believe the LP will succeed by continuing to do what it has been doing in the past.

  14. Allen Hacker Says:

    Hi Guys,

    Glad to see you’re all having so much fun!

    Actually, I have to hand it to the reviewer, he actually was as fair as was humanly possible. For that particular human, of course. I, being a different person, whould hold that some of the remarks could have been done without, or could themselves have been more objective, but overall, I can live with negative opinion. So long as we all realize when it is that what is being offered as criticism is just opinion. Or, when it may be based on immediate fact but does not accunt for the broader reality or allow for undisclosed additional (strategic) information.

    But I don’t feel any need to be defensive, or to defend. We all come at this movement from different places and perspectives. Still, one thing is certain. If we don’t hang together, we shall surely hang separately. And hang separately is exactly what we’ve been doing for the past 35 years.

    Now that’s the shame, that so many of us would rather sacrifice everything than align with people who don’t profess our own perspective exactly. We all want to say we’re striking out toward a different political reality, yet most of us actually strive to look like politics as usual. I suspect, rather than the problem being the voters’ bad or ingrained habits, the problem is the general inability of libertarians to sell the idea. Yep, a damn shame.

    Anyway, I really do appreciate the extra publicity. Free billboards are always good. Thanks!

    0

  15. Jake Porter Says:

    I would like to remind everyone that Michael is running in an area where Alex Jones (I believe also doesn’t have a drivers license but am unsure) is the favorite radio talk show host.

    From what I have heard from some people who live in the area most people will probably not care that he doesn’t have a drivers license. They like me are much more concerned with their property and family.

    I also personally don’t know that Michael has been driving at all in the past months and don’t know his tax situation.

    Does anyone remember James Traficant. The guy who almost won his congressional seat from prison. Now I admit he wasn’t from Texas or a Libertarian but because of his stands (right or wrong) he was a popular candidate even though he told another member to go F*** themselves on the house floor and always tried to insult his own party.

  16. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I think it’s going a bit far to say that James Traficant “almost won” his seat back from prison. From 2002…

    Democrat - Ryan - 92,708 votes (51%)
    Republican - Benjamin - 61,269 votes (34%)
    Independent - Traficant - 27,487 votes (15%)

  17. Mike N. Says:

    Allen has a good point. We are going to need to come together at some point and stand behind a party or candidate if we are ever going to see one elected. Otherwise it will be business as usual…. It is ironic that nutjobs like Timmy West preach this all the time, but hypocritically don’t pratice it.

  18. Stephen VanDyke Says:

    I think overall the mailing was too wordy and didn’t really provide much of a hook to contribute to the campaign (and may have said too much about the opposition that will scare off small contributors who won’t want to bother throwing money against what will be a tooth and nail race). There’s no visible fundraising goal and no defined use for the money that will be contributed.

    While I’m a tad skeptical of the current campaign and think Badnarik would be better suited to run for state senate (one things Libertarians seem to have in spades is unrealistic ambition), I do think he has a shot if the message is dead on with his constituency and can drumbeat his way into getting goot poll numbers.

    (disclaimer: I was the Web Team Coordinator for the Badnarik for President campaign and possibly this one, so my views aren’t entirely objective.)

    A bit offtopic, but is commenter R. Paul actually Ron Paul?

  19. Gwen Patton Says:

    Hey, what can’t the Pink Pistols cut? I’m sorry, I didn’t get that part. Were we supposed to cut something? A ribbon somewhere? Did I miss a memo?

    And sorry, but blades are not our “thing”, if you get my drift, though I do carry a spiffy pocketknife. We’re more into lawful firearms than sharp objects, so this “cutting” thing just doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    Can you please let me know what it is we are supposed to have cut, or are supposed to be cutting, or should have cut? I’m more than a little distressed to find out that our cutting skills are substandard in this regard.

    Gwen Patton
    Pink Pistols
    International Media Spokesperson

  20. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I’m assuming you understood, but just in case…

    The support of one or a few small groups (like the Pink Pistols) cannot overcome the Congressman’s giant list of public officials and major lobbies. I just picked the Pink Pistols because they’re the only group I could think of that endorsed the Badnarik Presidential campaign.

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