My Take on the Weld Campaign

This will probably piss off a few people, but that’s fine. I’m just exausted from reading page after page of blog commenters calling Bill Weld a liar and a scumbag.

The NYLP cross-endorsed Republican Bill Weld’s campaign for governor. Weld is, kind of like me, a somewhat libertarian-leaning Republican… but he’s got a solid resume of accomplishments as a former governor.

These are just a few from his Wikipedia bio…

  • Balancing seven budgets in a row
  • Passing 19 tax cuts without any tax increases
  • Reducing unemployment rate from 9.6 % in 1991 to 6.4% in 1994
  • Reforming Medicaid to control its annual rate of growth from an average of 17.4% per year between 1987 and 1991, to 3.8% between 1991 and 1997.
  • Slowing hospital cost increases and reduction in annual spending growth of the state’s $3.2 billion-a-year Medicaid program from about 20% to a projected 4.3 % in 1993
  • Overhauling the antiquated workers’ compensation system, and significantly reduced the size of state government. When Weld left office in 1997, it took 15,000 fewer state employees to run the government’s operations than it had in 1988

He’s surely not a 100% pure Libertarian, he probably had a few positions that ran directly counter to party line as a matter of fact. But a real political party must learn to take the bad with the good… and there was much more good here than bad.

His campaign implodes, he drops out, and then he’s burned alive by 100 blogging Libertarians who are delighted to be rid of someone so less-than-pure.

But here’s the deal… Libertarians running in the last two NY Gubernatorial races, both of which were huge landslides (so there was never a wasted vote problem), averaged less than 5,000 votes!

In 1998 - Garvey & Silberger polled 4,722 votes
In 2002 - Jeffrey & Greco polled 5,013 votes

So, to be as blunt as possible… there is no way in hell any Libertarian candidate this year is going to get 50,000 votes. Anyone saying “I told you so” must be insane… because Bill Weld was the party’s only remote shot at reaching out to a wider pool of voters and JUST MAYBE becoming ballot qualified.

It didn’t work out, the Weld campaign was torn apart by a half dozen different factors… end of story.

Nominate whoever you want next time and continue to get nowhere. I’m sure you’ll feel all warm and fuzzy inside on election night as your candidate pulls in with his well deserved 0.1% of the vote.

Also, be sure to direct lots and lots of bitter rage toward Bill Weld for dropping out. That way, in the future, those doggone qualified candidates… err I mean… “celebrity” candidates won’t bother you guys for support. (Anyone who’s not a clerk in a pet store or a retired professor is apparently a celebrity.)

As a libertarian-ish Republican, seeing stuff like this go down does nothing but drive me away from getting involved with the party. I guess that’s ok though, because apparently most of the party activists don’t want votes or money from moderates like myself anyway.

Unfortunately, unless there are 101 candidates on the ballot, you just can’t win an election with 1% of the vote. End of story.

24 Responses to “My Take on the Weld Campaign”

  1. Allen Hacker Says:

    Actually, Austin,

    The LPNY shouldn’t say anything at all about Weld because its nomination of him was illegal anyway. Witness this excerpt from the LP bylaws:

    ARTICLE 8: AFFILIATE PARTIES

    4. No affiliate party shall endorse any candidate who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election. No affiliate party shall take any action inconsistent with the Statement of Principles or these Bylaws.

    Oops! Looks like the LPNY should be thanking Bill Weld—for handing them back their integrity.

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  2. Thomas L. Knapp Says:

    Austin,

    You write:

    “As a libertarian-ish Republican, seeing stuff like this go down does nothing but drive me away from getting involved with the party. I guess that’s ok though, because apparently most of the party activists don’t want votes or money from moderates like myself anyway.”

    C’mon, now, Austin—this is beneath you.

    You don’t claim to be a libertarian—you plainly label yourself as a Republican who “leans libertarian” or is “libertarianish.” No problem. You’re not lying and pretending to be something you aren’t. Your money, your vote and your support is welcome whenever you think that the Libertarian Party is offering you a better deal than any of the other parties (and personally, I support getting rid of the weird oaths and stuff that only keep out the honest sympathizers who might be real assets).

    None of which is neither here nor there, since I am not bitching about Weld from “purist” premises. I didn’t inveigh against the LPNY’s nomination of Weld, and as a matter of fact was tentatively support of it out of interest in where in might go.

    What YOU did NOT do was stand on a platform, ask the Libertarian Party of New York to nominate you for governor of New York, promise to use that nomination to pursue the office whether or not another party nominated you, and then break your word as soon as it became apparent that that other party wasn’t going to nominate you.

    Weld could have been a standup guy. It would have involved some effort, but not any effort he hadn’t already publicly and willingly committed himself to (and probably far less effort than he would have expended had he actually received the GOP nomination).

    Staying in the race as the LP candidate wouldn’t have hurt the GOP —the only way Faso is going to win the race is if Eliot Spitzer gets run over by a garbage truck and the Democrats throw in Osama bin Laden as a replacement candidate, and maybe not then.

    Weld might even have helped the GOP by staying in the race. If he’d racked up a considerable vote total on the LP line, it might have dragged the New York GOP in a libertarian direction, which would probably better position it for future elections, and if he polled 50K, created a counterweight to the Conservative Party nomination that would have been beneficial.

    Weld didn’t salvage anything for his own career by dropping out. His political career is pretty much over in terms of holding high-level office. I suppose it’s possible that Dubyah might tap him for an ambassadorship or something, but we saw the way that went last time.

    Weld’s only real “legacy shot” was pursuing an LP candidacy for governor of New York and then perhaps the presidency, and using that as a kind of bully pulpit to energize “libertarian-leaning Republicans” into reforming their party in a libertarian direction … and he blew that shot out his ass.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  3. joe average Says:

    very good points. I’m sure Weld felt that he wouldn’t get the backing he needed under the LP and he was probably right. Backing out saves all of the work over the next few months yet the results will probably be the same. It was a nice idea, but just didn’t work out. Don’t let the LP-ers beat you up too much.

  4. George Whitfield Says:

    Austin, I don’t understand your exhaustion with us who are disappointed with William Weld. He sought the LP’s endorsement, promised to run as the LP candidate, and then dropped out when it became an uphill race. The only thing that really can implode a campaign is if the candidate quits. That’s what he did. Hopefully, he will upon reflection, realize that the Libertarian Party is the best vehicle for peace, prosperity, and freedom, and rejoin us at some later time.

  5. Hammer of Truth » Bill Weld: When the Going Got Tough, He Bailed Says:

    [...] Austin Cassidy is kind of peeved that we’ve been down on Weld for his broken campaign promise to run even if he didn’t get the GOP nod. He points out Weld’s libertarian-leaning track record while he was Massachussetts’s governor going on to chastise “celebrity” candidate cheerleaders: His campaign implodes, he drops out, and then he’s burned alive by 100 blogging Libertarians who are delighted to be rid of someone so less-than-pure. [...]

  6. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Tom,

    Just to state first off, this post was fueled much more by folks like “Devious David” than yourself.

    Weld’s failure here was absolutely a career-ender, and I think he understood that and divorced himself of any ideas that he might have a future in politics. The promise to keep running if he lost the GOP primary was probably a bad move on his part, and I can see how the LPNY might refuse to ever endorse him for something else in the future. But the absolute hatred some people were directing at him… liar, bastard, sleazebag, and my personal favorite:

    “Fucking assrabbit goes after some publicity, jokes around, then is too scared to get kicked in the nuts come November. I want to buy a bronze foot for him and tell himself to repeatedly ram it in his crotch, to make sure he doesn’t spawn any more lying cockweasels.”

    Holy crap! Talk about people like that scaring ANYONE away from dealing with the LP.

    And then another slew of “well, I told ya so… we should have nominated a purist nobody with no money or ability to get media attention… this is what happens when you get in bed with celebrities…”

    Bill Weld has about as much in common with Howard Stern as either you or I do. People need to get over that and sort out the difference between an actual entertainment celebrity candidate and a lawyer with an accomplished record of public service.

    Sorry… this just got under my skin tonight. I’m sure it’ll pass. :)

  7. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Allen… haven’t Alabama and Maryland done the same this year?

  8. Sean Haugh Says:

    The only thing Weld did wrong was get carried away and over-promise. Yeah that was weak. But didn’t I see something in the LPNY press release that they can and will replace him? If so the LPNY has lost nothing and gained much even in this worst case scenario. They made some good national press and they can probably even improve on 5,000 votes. Even better they took a chance. We need to be bold to succeed, and that means sometimes we will fail big. Even though I don’t think of Weld as the perfect example of our platform either, still his campaign rhetoric had to become more Libertarian to honor the one nomination he did get. You are absolutely right that if we are to succeed, we have to make it easy for the Bill Welds of the world (and Daily Koses too) to become Libertarians. I have every confidence that the party will make such folks more Libertarian faster than they will make us less Libertarian.

  9. Timothy West Says:

    I think the NYLP made a good decision to go with Weld. The upshot was HUGE and the downside was limited to exactly what happened as the worst case scenario. Weld’s failures are Weld’s and Weld’s alone, and he’s done as far as political office is concerned.

    Nobody will ever trust him again.

  10. Phil Says:

    Austin, I would agree with you if it wasn’t for one key issue - Weld promised the NYLP that he would continue to run. He broke that promise and dashed their hopes. They have every right to be angry.

  11. Joey Dauben Says:

    Does all this really matter? I mean, honestly, Eliot Spitzer is guaranteed the mansion anyway.

    And why is Weld in NY and not in MA? Seems odd.

    Does anyone really think Weld would have pulled 50,000 votes with Spitzer on the ballot? Seriously…

    Might as well be an unopposed race.

  12. Rolf Lindgren Says:

    Weld lied, that’s the point.

    I don’t blame the NYLP for trying to use good strategy.

  13. Richard Winger Says:

    Austin is too pessimistic when he says the Libertarian Party of New York can’t possibly get 50,000 votes for Governor without William Weld. In 1992 the New York Libertarian candidate for US Senate was totally unknown, but she got 108,530 votes. Libertarian votes in New York state have been artifically held down by the state’s horrible ballot format. But New York must get rid of its mechanical voting machines soon, and that will help also (unfortunately, New York won’t get rid of them til 2007).

    Also, the very fact that everyone knows Spitzer will win will help the LP gubernatorial candidate, because very few people will be worried about the “wasted vote” problem.

  14. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Richard, what were the circumstances that lead to that showing in 1992 and why has the party’s vote total in statewide races since then plunged so badly?

    Because looking at the recent results, it’s been pretty bad…

    U.S. Senate 1998 - 8,223 votes (0.18%)
    NY Governor 1998 - 4,722 votes (0.10%)
    U.S. Senate 2000 - 4,734 votes (0.07%)
    NY Governor 2002 - 5,013 votes (0.11%)
    U.S. Senate 2004 - 19,073 votes (0.19%) **

    All of those races combined is barely 40,000 votes… and that’s over the span of 6 years.

    And the results from the Presidential campaigns have all been similarly miserable. With the exception of Ed Clark, the LP has never even hit the 0.2% mark in New York.

    On the “wasted vote” issue, everyone knew Pataki would win re-election by huge margins in 1998 and 2002 and the party still got no traction out of it.

    ** Schumer won re-election by a landslide of 71% to 24%.

  15. Allen Hacker Says:

    Austin Cassidy Says:

    “Allen… haven’t Alabama and Maryland done the same this year?”

    Hmmm….

    For some people, these have become desperate times.

    It would be a lot easier if the egos were to be set aside and all our activists learn how to campaign. Steve Gordon puts together a seminar and only a handful show up. Meanwhile, I get calls from people wanting to tell me what to do, all starting off pretty much the same way…”I’ve run for office 5 times and I know what I’m taking about….”

    This is the only party where a track record of losing makes you an expert.

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  16. Darcy G Richardson Says:

    Austin,

    There was nothing particularly unusual about Norma Segal’s relatively strong showing in the 1992 New York U.S. Senate race. The Libertarians in New York are certainly capable of matching her impressive performance again. While there’s little question that her candidacy, like so many other third party candidates that year, was aided to some degree by Ross Perot’s historic independent campaign for the White House and the strong resentment toward both major parties sweeping the country that year—- a phenomenon that we’re experiencing again in 2006—- Segal’s impressive showing probably had more to do with her own style and flamboyance than any unusual circumstance. She was, arguably, one of the most colorful third-party candidates in the country. The more than 108,000 votes she received is a tribute not only to her own tenacity but also that of the Empire State’s tiny LP, especially considering that the 1992 New York Senate race was one of the closest in the country. (Republican Al D’Amato won that race by only 80,000 votes.)

    A 43-year-old public school teacher from the Bronx—- she was Al Sharpton’s English teacher in 1970—- Segal joined the Libertarian Party after watching a television commercial for Ed Clark in 1980. She was best known for her dangling earrings, large rings on her fingers and her bright-colored clothing—- and her flashy attire was matched by her colorful wit. She generally received good press and her quotes were usually quite memorable, including her statement that the bailout of the savings & loan scandal was nothing more than “welfare for the rich.” Then there was my favorite: “Republicans talk about the looting that took place in Los Angeles [after the Rodney King verdict]. But what about the president’s son who robbed and looted the country in the S&L scandal?”—- a delicious dig that could have been directed at either Neil or Jeb Bush.

    Given the fact that the other ballot-qualified minor parties in New York—- i.e., the Conservative, Independence and Working Families parties—- have cowardly capitulated to the major parties, this could still be a relatively good year for the New York Libertarians, even without William Weld.

  17. Gene Berkman Says:

    I have long had a favorable view of William Weld, since he first ran for Governor of Massachusetts. He appeared to be “socially liberal, and economically conservative” and it looks like he did follow through on this as Governor of Massachusetts.

    I think he was being polite when he pledged to continue on as a candidate, even without the Republican nomination, and the New York LP members were being polite to accept his pledge. But it is better that he dropped out early, rather than let his name be put on the ballot, and then drop out and endorse Faso closer to the November election.

    The Liberal Party lost ballot status in 2002 because the Democrat they supported lost the Democrat primary, and then would not take his name off as the Liberal candidate. He did not campaign, and ended up endorsing the Democrat, and the Liberals only got 15,000 votes. So Weld did the NYLP a favor by quitting early.

    In retrospect, the New York LP would probably have gotten 50,000 votes in 2002 if they had provided a second ballot line for Tom Golisano, the Independence Party candidate who spent $66 million on his campaign, calling for tax cuts, and ending marijuana prohibition.

  18. Richard Winger Says:

    Another factor that will help the Libertarian Party in the New York gubernatorial election will be the absense of Thomas Golisano. Golisano was sort of libertarian-ish and he was the Independence Party’s candidate for Governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002. Back in 1990, without Golisano in the race, the Libertarian Party polled 24,611 votes for Governor.

    Still another factor is whether the Marijuana Reform Party gets on the New York ballot this year for Governor or not.

  19. Eric Sundwall Says:

    There’s an emergency state committee meeting of the LPNY on Sunday night.

    It looks like it will certainly be an ‘in-house’ choice. Any hope seems to directly relate to financial support. Without it, petitioning may be the only possible expense to be reasonably had. This is the classic conundrum. Any of the potential candidates being mentioned could carry the Liberty banner competently. Money is the key factor. A celebrity candidate at this point in the game is unlikely.

    Any thoughts from the genius crowd ?

  20. Joey Dauben Says:

    Hey yeah, Galisano - didn’t the RPNY try to get him to run as an Elephant?

    Talk about credibility (don’t get me wrong, Weld is credible, just that the LP’s timing, I think, is not right this year - Spitzer, HRC, the fact NY is socialist, etc.), hell, the LP should have endorsed Galisano and his millions!

    Then again, the LPNY did run Howard Stern right? Ha. I don’t mean to bash the party, but selectively targeting states more apt to receive the LP - like, say, New Hampshire - would make more sense.

    Or Badnarik’s campaign, for example.

    Take for instance the example of the Texas gubernatorial race (I’m from Texas, so this appeals to me directly.)

    Five candidates on the ballot. No mention AT ALL of the fifth one. The R incumbent, Chris Bell (D) and the two indy candidates (Kinky the Jew and Carole the Grandma) will spell a last-place finish for the LP in this race.

    So, instead of focusing on that one, focus on CD-10, ya see?

    You’ve got a celebrity in that race already. Doesn’t LPNY have another race they could latch on to? One in which a Clinton or Spitzer isn’t in?

  21. Eric Sundwall Says:

    Joey - The Golden Calf in NY is the Governor. From there all success derives. This why all the Third Parties except the Greens latched onto a 50K baby. The LPNY was the only party to wring its hands about such an endorsement.

    How come Badnarik doesn’t mention he’s a Libertarian in his literature ? Does he have a driver’s license yet ? Did he pay his taxes last year ? Hard to focus on this curious LP celebrity from up here.

    New York has conditioned its citizenry to be collectivists, statists and every other vilification you can conceive when it comes to anti-libertarian sentiment. It’s not easy being green, let alone libertarian up here. Those who are, are a distinct, proud and very small coterie of faithful adherents who keep some semblance of Liberty alive.

    I would of course advocate my candidacy to latch on, but it is just an ancillary effort to build upstate chapters and support through the limited identification that my own limited resources have accrued. Our first FEC filing was nearly 7K. We are online for another 7K with any luck. To my knowledge that would put us second in terms of LP Congressional candidates behind only wunder-boy down there in the TX-CD10. If there is a larger FEC dollar amount amongst LP Congressional candidates I’d be curious to know.

  22. Sean Scallon Says:

    The New York LP has every right to be upset with Weld for whimping out on them after he campaigned for their ballot line and told them he would be with them regardless of what happened with the New York GOP. He looks dubious and untrustworthy and tool of Stephan Minarik. His political career is over. Yet if I was an LP member at their convention I would have endorsed Weld too. He was credible candidate with background and record and with posititons that were libertarian in leaning. He would have easily cleared 50,000 votes on the LP line. Now the New York LP is back to square one. Sometimes a celebrity candidate can burn you but sometimes you ahve take chances, especially when you can’t get past .5% of the vote.

  23. green in brooklyn Says:

    Eric,

    The Greens may not have sold out to get Spitzer on the ballot as a Green- which would be the only way to guarantee ballot status, but make no mistake, Malachy McCourt will easily get 50,000 votes, probably double that. Green enrollment has doubled since 2002, and if you get registered Greens (about 38K) 1/3rd of those who voted for Gloria Mattera in Brooklyn and Alice Green in Albany (not to mention Howin Hawkins, current Senate candidate who got 10% of the vote for Congree in 2004).

    Unlike the WFP, who despite lots of bluster about being progressives who are against the war, whore themselves to Hillary and Schumer election after election. The WFP is a sham, and the proof is in registration numbers.

  24. Eric Sundwall Says:

    Gr in Brook - I have a great deal of respect for the Greens and welcome them heartily in the battle for the NY soul. They have worked with the Libertarians to allow all of us the ability to fill a blank line on our registration and have the ability to find like minded individuals for political association.

    After the fall out from this Weld thing I would invite Mr. McCourt to join us in a statewide tour of debate and discussion. Much in the spirit of Badnarik & Cobb in 04. Perhaps our candidates could get arrested together.

    The values of anti-war, social tolerance and electoral reform should unite our membership to each achieve the silly barrier of 50K. While we might differ in key areas such as Education and Healthcare we both have the conviction of principle and the desire for fundamental peaceful change.

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