Hacker Comments on Poor Showing…

A quick statement from campaign manager Allen Hacker has been posted over at Michael Badnarik’s blog:

Well, there you have it… or do you?

Maybe it is what it is, and maybe it only looks that way. We’re going to take some time to carefully examine what happened, and then we’ll make a policy statement about the campaign and election. A detailed analysis, if there is to be one that serves the future well, will take considerably longer.

Contrary to the demands of those noisy few who know no other way to be right than to make someone else wrong, we don’t plan to turn on each other or our fellow libertarians with verbal machetes. That’s what has always been done, and that, per the definition of insanity, is what has always kept us where we’ve been. Even now, a few are beginning to do it, but for the most part, we seem to be more grown up this time. I applaud everyone for their more mature response.

Nor do we plan to engage any critics in the interim. The product will be delivered when it is deliverable, and only as appropriate.

I know Joe will be writing a bit about this later, but any initial reactions to the disasterous showing?

Badnarik reported raising $409,618 as of mid-October. At that same time, Tammy Lee had banked only $148,549 and Eric Eidsness has pulled in a mere $26,983. Yet on election night, Lee finished in a virtual tie for second place with 21% of the vote and Eidsness racked up 11% out in Colorado.

How does a campaign with a $400,000+ budget only resonate with 4% of the electorate? In a safe Republican district it’s not like voters particularly expected a close election… so the wasted vote problem wasn’t nearly as strong of a factor as it was in other races, specifically Colorado’s 4th.

I’m pretty sure Badnarik is done as a candidate for the LP… and I would suspect most of his advisors and staff will be looking for new areas to work in. My own hope is that the party avoids taking a stance that “campaigns don’t work no matter how hard you try, and this proves it.”

It’s just about finding the right race and the right candidate and building a machine that can provide support for that candidate. No rocket science here.

Someone such as Badnarik, with no roots and no practical experience, should not be the kind of candidates the LP embraces.

Qualifications, money, and machine. You need at least two of these three elements to win almost any election. Since Libertarians never really have the machine aspect in place, it falls to qualifications and money. You need both. Badnarik had money, but no qualifications. Others have qualifications and no money. Still many other candidates run without any of those three elements.

Honestly, on election night, I didn’t even think of Paul Trujillo down in New Mexico. But if he had 25% of the resources that were directed toward Badnarik… could he have won?

How much support did he receive from the state party, anyway? National?

Could better candidates have been recruited for winnable state house seats if those candidates were promised serious support BEFORE jumping into the race?

Is it better to win a seat on a local zoning board or to get 2% of the vote in 10 Congressional races? I’d take a win in a minor race over a whole bunch of minor showings in major races.

191 Responses to “Hacker Comments on Poor Showing…”

  1. Mike N. Says:

    I personally think the LP as a whole needs to focus on one or two state-level races such as State House and State Senate. We have too-few resources spread way too thin. We certainly don’t have the money to win a US Rep, US Senate or gubernatorial race, but, combined, we do have the resources to win a couple state legislative races each year. Once we establish a base, then we can focus on larger races.

    We need to stop trying to put the cart before the donkey - as I keep saying.

  2. rj Says:

    I took a quick look at Badnarik’s donations over at the FEC site, they came in from all over the country.

    If this is just Libertarians prioritizing one House race in Texas, that’s a bad thing.

    If not however, maybe Badnarik in the future can be a fundraiser of sorts for some candidates of like-mindedness. He was able to raise a lot of money, that cannot be disputed. And maybe he can use that gift to help others down the road.

  3. Mike N. Says:

    If not however, maybe Badnarik in the future can be a fundraiser of sorts for some candidates of like-mindedness. He was able to raise a lot of money, that cannot be disputed. And maybe he can use that gift to help others down the road.

    I wouldn’t donate a dime to anything he is associated with in the future.

  4. Nick Wilson Says:

    I’m with Mike on this one. I always knew Badnarik was dead in the water candidacy-wise (and appointing Hacker didn’t seem to help. Hacker should work as a political consultant for the major parties - that way the LP might actually have a chance of winning for once.)

    You can’t run people for office for no other reason that they are principled. We have to have candidates with both principle and political competency, as well as QUALIFICATION. That’s the problem with the LP and most third parties - they’ve scared away most of the qualified candidates. And Badnarik has no qualifications other than the fact he ran for president on the LP, which was a candidacy he had zero qualification for (the “Big Man on Campus” thing had me both in stitches and shaking my head in disappointment).

    We need to have prominent local business owners and civic and political leaders running for state offices and winning. Then we need those winners to run for national office after they have built up enough recognition and stabilized the party’s reputation. This is how we build political qualification. A presidential campaign is good for publicity maybe, but we could have at least done better than Badnarik, who only reinforces all the media and major party stereotypes of the LP which keep us small and irrelevant - and hurt local candidates.

    Think about it, though, why would a qualified candidate put his name in the hat of a party where the name alone seems to be enough to kill a candidate? Not to mention the fact that not many qualified candidates with political competency adhere to anarchocapitalism as their guiding political philosophy, or at least advocate it as the immediate solution to the problems of the country.

    Nothing against the guy personally - he’s a good libertarian and I respect him a lot, but Badnarik’s failure is merely a prominent representation of why the LP fails politically. It also reinforces my belief that I am wasting my time here.

  5. Eric L. Says:

    I think one of the key issues any third party has to deal with successfully in order to be successful is the mental trap in the vast majority of people that a vote for someone other than a Republicrat is a wasted vote. So we need to transform this mindset in people one way or another. One way to do this is to identify for people what Republicans and Democrats have in common that is harmful to America and undesirable for the average American, and yet is an issue that the [insert party name] Party opposes. Globalization is a classic example, and also corruption. People generally distrust Republicrats, but can’t snap the aforementioned mindset. If we unite America against the Republicrats, we’ve won.

    Some other practical steps:
    1) Begin campaigning as early as possible.
    2) Create attractive web sites that are easily navigable, and contain well-reasoned points about issues they care about. There must not be any spelling or grammar errors either, as I have seen on some third party websites, so proofread everything that gets put up online.
    3) Get bumper stickers made with mind-set changing slogans like:
    “If you think your choice is the lesser of two evils, why vote evil?”
    “Do you really trust Democrats and Republicans? Vote third party!”
    “Democrats and Republicans don’t need your vote. Vote third party!”
    “Like the Constitution? Vote third party!”
    “Hate globalism? Vote third party!”
    “Love America? Vote third party!”
    “Don’t believe the News at 6? Vote third party!”

    Brainstorm a bunch of ideas, and get these out in circulation ASAP.

    4) Also, work with other legitimate third parties. Don’t attack other third parties, but emphasize differences in philosophies and especially how your party is distinguished from the Republicrats and is far better for America and her people.

    5) Believe in yourself. Third parties can break through. You can do it. Believe in yourself and think about campaign strategies and how to best sway public opinion of third parties.

    6) Turn people to alternative media. That’s the way I really began to think outside the box politically. The mainstream media brainwashes people. Turn people to good independent media sources that tell the real news will get people thinking. Most people hate the news on TV, complaining that it’s so negative, and it’s a lot of spin.

    I think these ideas will work, but brainstorm some more in future campaigns, and let’s smash the Republicrat stronghold in 2008!

  6. Chuck Says:

    Eric - somewhat correct we have use the cato stratagy, advocate lesser governement in ways that make sense to people’s current mindset

    However a third party opposing Globalization outright and calling it a bad thing instead of just opposing globzation issues will just get you labeled as a kook(don’t want to get in an argument about globalization, but like many people I think parts of it are very good, and if you come out ranting about globization right off the bat I’ll turn you off as being a socalist).

    Same with Libertarians just coming out and screaming about government being evil, and taxation is slavery will get you labeled as crazy purrple-skined anarchists . This was one problem with Badnarik’s campaign(espically if you read his book, thanks to people’s current views on government that have been built up over many years, his views from a different midset come across as kook)

  7. rj Says:

    Has there ever been a study done comparing independent candidates to Libertarian candidates to see the effect of the party name on the percentage of vote candidates get? My guess is negative.

    Libertarians need to get libertarians to vote for them. They don’t, they vote Republican. Watched MSNBC coverage Tuesday night and the l-word was dropped several times by Chris Matthews describing suburban voters.

  8. undercover_anarchist Says:

    Austin says: “If Paul Trujillo had 25% of the resources that were directed toward Badnarik… could he have won?”

    25%??? $100,000 to win a county commission race as an incumbent? Jesus fucking Christ, I hope so! He could have given every voter $500 in cash and still had tens of thousands left over for OUTBACK STEAKHOUSE, all you can eat, a la the FRAUDNARIK campaign.

    What is a proper punishment for the Fraudnarik Gang? Their crimes are among the most disgusting I’ve ever witnessed.

    The Fraudnarik “campaign” with its “secret plan” has to be the biggest failure in the history of politics, bar none. More than $400,000 to get fewer than 8,000 votes? That’s more than $50 spent per vote recieved. Hey, all Fraudnarik needs is about $6 billion and he could take the presidency, like the weepy-eyed little bitch prophesized at the LP convention in 2004!

    Seriously, I think death is appropriate. The level of disgust I have for this piece of shit goes well beyond anything I feel for Bush. And Hacker? It was clear that the campaign was morally as well as strategically bankrupt when Fraudnarik didn’t fire him MONTHS ago. “Stay the course” we have a “secret plan.” “We’re gonna hire a bunch of misfits to put on Guy Fawlkes masks! It’s guaranteed to win! We’re gonna film or stiff, dorky ass candidate pontificating on liberty in a cheap ass YouTube spot!”

    Also, look at Fraudnarik’s fat face and compare it to the picture used in his banner. The crook got fat eating at Outback Steakhouse twice a day with “campaign workers” on the campaign’s dime.

    If I ever met Fraudnarik, I swear I would hock the biggest fucking loogy of all time in his face. I think the non-aggression pledge deserves an exemption when it comes to him.

  9. Nigel Watt Says:

    O…kay, UA.

    What this proves is that the LP needs to focus on local races. Win the municipal and county governments, make REAL changes for liberty there, then once the trust of the people has been gained, move on to the next tier.

  10. Fred Mangels Says:

    Local races are indeed the LP’s best shot. Still, as alluded to by others, you need to have credible (qualified) candidates. All too often I’ve seen the LP chose candidates just by random phone calls. Those candidates are often people who have little or no record of service of any kind in their community. Then, they show up on the ballot and expect people to vote for them.

    No one knows them and they don’t have any activities they can point to that show they are qualified or even had any prior interest in the issues they’ll be dealing with if elected.

    Many of these races seem like a waste of time to me with the candidates we run.

  11. Chris Moore Says:

    Let’s be clear: the failure of the Badnarik campaign had nothing to do with principled vs. practical or pure vs. un-pure. Actually, although horribly written, Badnarik’s key issues where fairly moderate libertarian, and something most Republicans and some Democrats in the district could get behind.

    The failure had more to do with (1) very few even knowing who Badnarik was, and (2) a campaign that seemed hell-bent on making sure that continued to be the case.

    They sent out a total of maybe 5 press releases (none when it was apparent that Badnarik had out-fundraised the Democrat 10:1, or after their one newspaper endorsement, or at anytime when the campaign did something newsworthy), which is probably a good thing, since when they were released, they were terrible. Long. Arrogant. No point. No news. A write-in candidate in Alabama generated more press with one tenth of the resources. With someone like Gordon or Knapp working the media, the race would have been entirely different.

    The campaign was run just like McCaul’s campaign. Only McCaul was the incumbent and had a “R” next to his name.

    Hacker’s secret plan:

    Ankrum was supposed to drop out, because Ankrum promised Hacker that if he could produce a poll that showed Badnarik ahead of him, he’d drop out. Hacker produced a name recognition poll, which means very little when set side-by-side to Ankrum’s ACTUAL poll showing a result that was pretty close to what actually happened on election day. Then they threw a hissy-fit and called Ankrum a flip-flopper because he didn’t do what they wanted.

    Some new political groups were supposed to be formed that would raise millions of dollars for Badnarik. It didn’t happen. They threw a hissy-fit and complained about how others couldn’t get off their ass and it’s not their fault.

    They expected Spring 2006 dollars to continue to roll in during Fall 2006. When donors saw those Spring dollars get spent with nothing tangible apparently gained, and with no plan other than “top-secret, I’m smarter than you, so shut up and write checks” that well dried up. They threw a hissy-fit and complained about how Mike Nelson was single-handedly destroying the campaign.

    The campaign looked strong in the beginning. It was a cluster-fuck by summer.

    I very much appreciate the attempt. I’m pretty confident Badnarik is a good guy with good intentions. Allen Hacker is probably a good guy as well, but he is a political novice with an ego the size of the Sun.

    I’m with Nigel. Local races. Maybe we should start a PAC to raise money for this purpose.

  12. dave Says:

    I live in one of the rural counties in the district (where by the way the two independent candidates for Gov. put together had more votes than either of the two parties candidates did individually) I did not receive any mail, see an ad, tv radio or newspaper, or see any local coverage of the Bad. campaign. His campaign was no different than that of the other 15 or so Libertarians on the ballot that did nothing. Some people made a good living off the campaign for the last year or so.

  13. Chuck Says:

    Very Interesting, so at what time excatly did hacker’s plan go astray? I mean I’m sure badnarik spent a ton, a ton of time teaching high schools and such, and don’t fault him for trying his best when he likely thought his advisor was right.

    But it seems like with $500,000 you could have opended up on main street of all the major towns in your district a big mike’s freedom library or bazzar all about spreading liberty ideas and loaning out libertarian books/ etc and probably easily obtained more votes/name that way, along with spreading the libertarian ideals.

  14. Jackcjackson Says:


    I highly doubt most libertarians vote Republican. I mean, maybe self identified libertarians who dont know what libertarianism is. Now, I’m not one of those guys that talks about being “pure” libertarians and all that. However, there are very few Rs who are even slightly libertarian. Libertarians I know are pretty concerned with freedom, especially social freedoms. Throwing a bone of high taxes, but “lower than the other guys” does not make hate/war-mongerering social intolerants “libertarian.”

    I also think those “right” libertarians pay a little too much attention to false “fiscal conservatism ( which could describe maybe 4-5 Republicans in Congress out of 200+)” and not enough to more important freedoms. I hate taxes as much as the next guy, but ( especially considering most Republicans support “big government” and high taxes anyway) I am more concerned about things like freedom of association, true property rights ( ok, maybe some Repugs get a few points here, but not enough), medical freedoms, not living in a police state, not being murdered by the government, etc.

    Many of those “libertarians” simply AREN’T libertarian in the least.

    That said, the problem is NOT gettng libertarians to vote for LP candidates, but non-libertarians. I don’t care what study or survey people trot out. The reality is libertarians are a very small minority of the population. Among actual voters, maybe 1%. Those 15-30% or whatever studies are pretty much bunk. That’s the sad reality. I know, I have lived my whole life as the smallest minority on earth and as a member of one of the smallest minority groups….That said, for libertarians to have electoral success, appealing to libertarians doesnt matter so much. It is appealing to independents and non-voters, and even some Rs and Ds on common-ground isues. But the LP has been spreading the word and educating the masses for 30+ years. The people simply arent buying the product because most people arent “extremists.”

    But IMO IF there is a specific voter to reach out to, it is certainly not Rs- unless they are truly of the fiscal conservative/social liberal type. Dems arent much better, of course. We already have enough frustrated white guys that really like guns and hate taxes.

    The LP has to appeal to a “bigger tent”, but should not attempt to appeal to gay-bashers, religious nuts, whackjobs, racists, imperialists, people who want to kill small time drug users,etc. The GOP, CP,etc can have them.

    I would hope MAYBE 30-40% of the population could agree to support BOTH social and economic freedom and find some common-ground. Wouldnt have to be true “libertarians” but at least agree in general that govt should be efficient,taxes low, and adults should be free to do what they want as long as they dont hurt anyone.

    If this is not the case, Oh Well. If only 1% ( or 10-20% or whatever) of the population are truly decent people, then F- politics. It is not even worth trying to reach a bunch of intolerant, socialist/fascist idiots. We decent people will just have to keep on doing what we do and live our lives. Hopefully the government wont murder us.

  15. Chuck Says:

    Dave - This was obvious when the big major news on the site from when the even happend till election day, was his smile for liberty sign holding campaign, which consisted of him and 4 high school students holding telling people to smile for liberty. Again I like the idea, but what were all the rest of his full-time staffers doing at the time of the drive?

  16. Jackcjackson Says:

    ..And yeah, the only hope is local politics. In this case there are usually a few issues that are not very complex and it is possible to be a principled libertarian and agree with 50%~ of voters. Local races are often about 1-2 issues with nearly equal support. For example, opposing a property tax increase isn’t going to make you “extreme.” No need to talk about the Fed, gold, 16th Amendment conspiracies, federal abortion laws, immigration,etc. the same with Ballot initiatives. I have seen very libertarian position, even extreme losing ones, get 40%+. Ad-hoc may be the only politics worth doing. Probably 50% of the population may be “libertarian” on one issue. But most people have no principles and are philosophically inconsistent.

    One problem is, if you are going to try to “buildup” a party from the local level, you need a LOT of qualified local candidates who are well liked in their community. Often you cant een find enough paper candidates. IF you find 1 “good” candidate and maybe he gets elected to the town council or some other city/county office, its going to be very difficult for him to even keep his seat there..and almost impossible to “moveup.” Its not even worth trying for state house, IMO, if you don’t have several elected candidates in every area of the district in every county, town,etc. Thats how the Ds and Rs do it, and they are the winners when it comes to electoral politics. Now I have lived in both Democrat and republican majority areas. Places where one party held every seat in the town, but the big 2 have enough presence overall.

  17. rj Says:

    “If this is not the case, Oh Well. If only 1% ( or 10-20% or whatever) of the population are truly decent people, then F- politics. It is not even worth trying to reach a bunch of intolerant, socialist/fascist idiots. We decent people will just have to keep on doing what we do and live our lives. Hopefully the government wont murder us.”

    That sounds like an argument the Socialist Workers Party would make.

    Libertarians have been around since 1972. Has anyone in those 34 years of the party been looked at as a winner? The party needs winners! Take a look at the Minnesota Independence Party candidates. They acted like they belonged as a major party, drafted good candidates, took themselves seriously, and campaigned together (the statewide candidates). They’re highest statewide vote getter got 6.4% in a three-way race, and no one looks at them as kooks except people that think everyone should be a Republicrat. Of all the Libertarians I have heard of, there are only two I know of that take themselves and their campaigns seriously - Ron Paul and Thompson when he ran for governor in Wisconsin. He was then drafted in as mayor of a small town the following year. Where are the Thompsons of the rest of the country?

    I disagree with you, I think there are a good number of libertarians in the country, but no one is going to waste their time or money on a candidate that runs his campaign like a joke. The vice presidential nominee of the LP in 1980, Ed Koch, has lots and lots of money and spent it on their candidacy that year - the most successful LP national bid ever, and got 10% in Alaska. Did he donate to LP candidates this year? If not, why do you think he did not? It’s not like he has to be thrifty.

    Libertarians need to decide if they ever want to actually have an influence on citizens or this country or if they want to become some kind of Jacobin political club that cries about why the rest of the world is so stupid.

  18. Nigel Watt Says:

    Chris Moore: With regard to the PAC idea - exactly what I was thinking! If you have any ideas on how to get one started, email me: ndjmwii at gmail dot com.

  19. Jake Porter Says:

    Nigel and Chris,

    I am actually talking to a few Libertarians about creating a PAC to fund advertising and campaign strategy for state legislature races.

    I don’t have much knowledge of how to start a PAC, but I do think I have a few interesting ideas on what a PAC should do and where the Libertarian Party is failing.

    For anyone who is interested, please send me an e-mail at [email protected]

  20. Rich Says:

    in existence for 3 or 4 years now

  21. Carl Milsted Says:

    $400,000+? Really?

    That may be how much the Badnarik campaign grossed in terms of fundraising, but what was the net? Much of that money was gathered by flying the candidate around the country to state LP conventions. This costs quite a bit of money. Then, there are the costs of hospitality suites, the emblem on the notebooks at the national convention…

    As any good capitalist knows, it’s the net that counts, not the gross.

    Furthermore, most of that overhead was spent outside the district. If you hold an expensive fundraiser in your district, you have at least wined and dined local notables in your quest for money. This produces positives beyond the net money raised. Not so for money raised out of district.

    The LP is too small and too unpopular to win at the congressional level.

    If you don’t have at least one activist per precint on average, you have no business running for office. Get the activists first; then run.

    And some of those activists had better be pillars in the community, people with large contact lists so you can get your signs deployed on private lawns. Such signs are significant. They tell the community that you have a support base; that you have credibility. Signs on public right-of-ways do not send this message.

    Standard campaign techniques that work for the D’s and R’s do not work for Libertarians. The base is too small. The LP needs to do guerilla style campaigning and/or build up its base.

    Or, maybe it is time for yet another third party, one which can attract a much bigger support base…

  22. Richard Winger Says:

    No one above has mentioned the special problem that Texas and 13 other states have a “straight-ticket device”. So voters can vote for every single partisan race without even looking to see what offices are up and who is running. To their credit, Republican state legislatures have tended to abolish these devilish devices. Texas has the device, but Texas Republicans legislators like it, unfortunately. Without the straight-ticket device, Michael would probably have polled at least 10%. New Mexico’s straight-ticket device also probably prevented our Valencia County Commissioner from being re-elected.

  23. Nigel Watt Says:

    Richard is correct that straight-party voting does hurt us in Texas, but Texans can also vote straight-party Libertarian. 1,908 of them did in Dallas County (out of 409,512 votes cast, 1,197,348 registered voters, and around 2.3 million people), for example.

  24. Joseph Knight Says:

    The LP of New Mexico gave Paul Trujillo $600, the most we’ve ever given a single candidate for local office. I can barely get National to acknowledge him. In retrospect, the one thing I wished it had occured to me to advise him to do, would be a direct mail to Democrats in his district telling them why he left the Democrat party and why they should support him anyway.

    Paul thought he had it in the bag. I firmly believe he was clobbered by straight-ticket voting in a Democrat-dominated district.

    He did not apply for our “Operation Win One” fund which is a savings account so some future candidate can enter the field with “Overwhelming Resources.”

  25. Joseph Knight Says:

    Rich, I just checked out ILLF. I’m impressed. Looks like a good model. http://www.illf.org/

  26. Joseph Knight Says:

    Here’s how LPNM’s “Operation Win One” is set up. $5K probably doesn’t sound like much but NM is one of the poorest states and this amount, as a match, is significant in our local elections.

    “Bylaw #6
    Operation Win One, hereafter OWO, is intended to give a viable LPNM candidate overwhelming resources in a winnable partisan election, and is established as a permanent fund to be administered by the Executive Committee. Monies in the OWO account shall be used for no purpose other than described herein. No award shall be made of less than $5,000, and only if the selected candidate has in the campaign treasury an equal amount. No award will be made unless the candidate submits a detailed campaign plan with clear and compelling argument, supported by evidence such as demographic and/or polling data, that the candidate is truly viable and will likely win. Unanimous consent of the Executive Committee is required for an OWO award.”

  27. georgia Says:

    We are flabbergasted that anyone expected Mike to win, including himself and Hacker. The main purpose for this whole thing was improving and reinforcing the national name recognition. To insure (in their opinion) that Badnarik remains the face of the LP. To set up everything got him to run first for the nomination and then as the nominee for president in 2008. And of course to insure that Hacker gets paid as the campaign manager. Austin as his home?? We predict that within a matter of months, he will move in with someone somewhere, and spend the next 2 years just being a candidate.

  28. Darcy Richardson Says:

    While I agree with my friend Richard Winger’s observation that the “straight-ticket device” is a relic and a hindrance to independent and third-party candidates in general, I don’t think that straight-ticket voting really hurt Badnarik’s candidacy, especially since more than a third of the voters in the 10th congressional district of Texas, according to unofficials returns, voted for an independent candidate for governor. Obviously, the tens of thousands of voters in that district who voted for the colorful “Kinky” Friedman or Carol Strayhorn, not to mention the Libertarian Party’s James Werner, didn’t cast a straight Democratic or Republican ticket. It’s rather curious, though, that such a large proportion of the voters in that district who had no difficulty rejecting the major-party nominees in the state’s hotly-contested gubernatorial contest opted not to support Badnarik, for whatever reason.

    What’s most alarming, however, is the fact that Badnarik barely polled 4.3% of the vote in a district in which a Libertarian candidate for Congress managed to garner 35,569 votes, or 15.4%, two years ago, albeit in a race without a Democratic candidate on the ballot. Incidentally, the LP candidate in that race spent less than $5,000. What’s even more intriguing, however, is that a little-known University of Texas-Austin mathematics professor—- a candidate with virtually no name recognition prior to entering the race and whose name wasn’t even on the ballot—- also polled 13,961 write-in votes in that same contest in 2004—- or 6,300 votes more than Badnarik received on Tuesday.

    On a strictly dollar-per-vote basis, the Badnarik campaign was by far the worst third-party campaign for the U.S. House of Representatives in American history.

  29. Jacky Says:

    All you speculating as to what Michael Badnarik and Allen Hacker’s intentions are, you’re just plain stupid. You have no idea what happened with the campaign or what went on day to day, and you’re just talking out your ass.

    The question is, why? Are you disappointed that he didn’t win? Why don’t you say “Awe, shucks, that sucks.” and then get involved and help him win something (if he even wants to anymore at this point!) instead of just talking shit? It’s not constructive.

    If you truly hate him for some reason (why?), why are you so concerned with him? Is it because he “took” a lot of money from your LP or because you hate his politics? He is able to get money because he is a damn fine speaker and he gets people fired up.

    The REAL problem here is indeed name recognition (LP). People don’t know it exists. So if you’re an Lib, why don’t you get off your ass and try to do something like him, instead of bitching in an interwebnets blog?

    Unity people, unity is the only thing that will help us change this country.

  30. rj Says:

    “The REAL problem here is indeed name recognition (LP). People don’t know it exists. So if you’re an Lib, why don’t you get off your ass and try to do something like him, instead of bitching in an interwebnets blog?”

    I think people most definitely know the Libertarian Party exists.

    As for the rest of your post, the concern is not that he did not win. I doubt anyone expected that. The concern is money received and how that transferred into votes. Compare to other candidates in the race:


    McCaul (Republican): $1,030,710 (as of 10/15) for 97618 votes, 55.32%. That is $10.56 per vote.
    Ankrum (Democrat): $55,543 (as of 10/15) for 71232 votes, 40.37%. That is $0.78 per vote.
    Badnarik (Libertarian): $409,618 (as of 10/15) for 7603 votes, 4.31%. That is $53.88 per vote.

    You can take a look at other Libertarian campaigns for U.S. House in Texas that achieved the same results. If a candidate did not file, that means their fundraising was negligible.

    Warren of TX-18: did not file a report with the FEC,3664 votes, 4.26%.

    Smither of TX-22: $38,461 (as of 10/15) for 9011 votes, 6.10%. That is $4.27 per vote.

    Cunningham of TX-25: did not file a report with the FEC, 6933 votes, 4.24%.

    Powell of TX-27: did not file a report with the FEC, 4722 votes, 4.32%.

    It’s all about the Benjamins.

  31. Don Wills Says:

    Jacky wrote -
    “The REAL problem here is indeed name recognition (LP). People don’t know it exists.”

    Bzzzt. Wrong. The problem is that voters recognize the LP name as a bunch of druggie anarchists, and thus don’t look any closer. Carl M. was correct -
    “maybe it is time for yet another third party, one which can attract a much bigger support base…”

  32. torah Says:

    Jacky, people are doing and saying this stuff because Badnarik and Hacker raised almost $500,000 and had 4% to show for it.

    How many votes did Badnarik get in CA when Hacker was the chairman there? Probably not too many.

    Not sure the going rate for TV buys in CD-10, but I’m sure $500,000 would have covered it. And why six staffers? Good grief. Six staffers who couldn’t write an effective press release and time spent showing how the Democrat who wasn’t a factor in the race at all “flip-flopped.”

    That’s why people are doing and saying these things.

    Where’s Gary Nolan. He needs to get involved again.

  33. cho kyusuk Says:

    I’ll just say what I know personally about the Badnarik campaign.
    I volunteered a handful of times. The main activity- that I observed and did- was stuffing envelopes to mail to donors.
    Other than that we went to one campaign appearance organized by the campaign. They were obviously expecting loads of people- they rented 100 chairs and such. About 3 people (voters) showed up. About 8 people from the campaign. I’m sure it was a letdown to them (this was very early in the campaign) and maybe a string of these lead them to give up early.
    They bought me dinner from the campaign funds. Thanks!
    I dont really call myself a hardcore Libertarian- more a libertarian socialist (there is such a thing). In Texas there arent many (any) other outlets- so I help the Libs when I can.
    But I will lend this to those who care- I dont think anything can be constructively taken away from the Bad campaign. I think the poor showing was directly related to the poor campaigning. Yes, undoubtedly there are large hurdles setup here in Texas for anyone who isnt D or R- but that is really no excuse for the poor showing.
    The math professor campaign that was mentioned earlier- I helped some with that and the only reason he got votes because he knew how to campaign and had people on his side who knew who too- including me. No paid staff, nothing like that. A donated office space with some donated equipment.
    I think with $400k a mailer couldve gone out, block walking couldve been done (a free activity) and definitely more mainstream press couldve been covered. As far as I saw the campaign never even thought to buy a blockwalking list- a very cheap thing avaliable from the county which lists a voters primary and general election history- you know- I bet the Dems wouldve even sold one too him (there’s is alot more extensive) under the table if he wouldve promised to focus on hardcore Rep territory.
    My last note: I dont think Badnarik is very charismatic at all and he seemed to do a poor job of picking topics to address to certain audiences. In the waning days of the campaign I saw him speak on campus- a large crowd was gather to hear about the Military Comm. Act- and he went on a ramble about the 2nd amendment. I’m sorry, but that doesnt fly very high in downtown Austin on UT campus. Aint too many gun lovers around there. Share that one from Brenham, but not downtown Austin. Downtown Austin is the privacy, drug law and anti-imperialism speech.
    I see this as a terrible job of managing the campaign. Really, most of these problems steam from that I think.
    Like I said I’m not a committed L but I think yall are better off without these hacks- Bad and Hack.
    Honestly, I think the truth is they learned fairly early on that they couldnt win (or were blind and thought they’d coast to 10%) and they set back and enjoyed yalls cash.

  34. Tom Bryant Says:

    I contributed early on to the Badnarik campaign, and was excited when I saw 3 billboards go up very early in the campaign. Then I noticed that as the months went on, the campaign kept raising money but no more billboards and very little reports were coming from the campaign on their activities. That’s when I stopped donating, as any good capitalist, I demand to see return results on my investments.

    When Mike Nelson got fired up, I tried to stay neutral and give Badnarik the benefit of the doubt.

    When the election results came in, I think it was very clear that the Badnarik campaign was a terrible event for the LP. There are two possible takes on it:

    1) A Libertarian campaign that is well funded still cannot succeed. Money is not our problem, we are doomed to fail with our message.

    2) The campaign was run poorly and did not spend the money on vote-gaining activities. Corruption is running wild in the LP, and contributing money to candidates is a crap shoot. How can we get behind candidates when you don’t know if the money will be wisely spent?

    Neither option is good for the Libertarian Party. This campaign is going to make raising money from our donors even harder in the future.

  35. Torah Says:

    There’s always the Republican Liberty Caucus: www.rlctexas.org

  36. Carl Milsted Says:

    Before ya’ll scream corruption, I suggest you read up on the textbook approach to fundraising for a political campaign. The textbook approach is to raise money to raise money to raise money to (last cycle) spend on actual campaigning. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work for Libertarians because the donor pool is so small. Later cycles bring in a much lower return on investment.

    Here is the question. You know that your remaining 50K (number pulled off the top of head) is insufficient to win the race. Do you spend it to make a less bad showing? Or do you spend it on fundraising in an attempt to get enough to actually win?

    Note that all this is speculation regarding the Badnarik campaign. I did not participate. I have, however, taken a course in campaigning at the Leadership Institute where they taught this approach. I have also witnessed the Badnarik campaign doing some very expensive fundraising. (Travelling to the LP NC convention, for example.)

  37. George Phillies Says:

    To defend Mr. Hacker on on point, when in 2004 he was the California contact person for the Badnarik Volunteer effort (which I tried to lead), he was very honest with me that he would be the contact point (which he did do as promised) but did not have time to invest in the campaign. I looked vigorously but not very successfully for other Californians to volunteer and do work, and am very grateful for what each of you did.

    $400,000 is good for one or more mailings to the district or a ton of cable ads. (and my political friends who are elected DRs emphasize cable is the most cost effective.)

    As a historical matter for a long time the Libertarian Party has tried the ‘concentrate all resources on one race’ tack, e.g., Jon Coon (twice), Murray Sabrin, Carla Howell (twice) and now Michael Badnarik, and as a strategic approach it works poorly, especially when people start hiring expensive campaign staff and renting large amounts of office space.

  38. Otto Kerner Says:

    The reason the LP’s attempts to concentrate all resources one one race have failed is that the LP is a giant centralcontroller type of organisation and, therefore, it is incompetent at choosing which one race to target. Mike Badnarik was a bad candidate and always has been. The level of support that he has received from LP members reflects negatively on their perceptiveness.

  39. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I think it’s more the candidate in this case than any open corruption or a failed message. Though it does look like the money that was raised was badly mismanaged.

    If you had given $400,000 to Ed Thompson to run for Congress in Wisconsin… I think it’s at least possible he might have won the race.

    Had Tammy Lee or Eric Eidsness had $400,000 in their races, I’d have to think they would have been quite credible and might have even won their races. But in Badnarik’s hands and on this race, it was just wasted. Sad but true.

  40. Chris Moore Says:

    “As a historical matter for a long time the Libertarian Party has tried the ‘concentrate all resources on one race’ tack”

    Umm. I was under the impression that Badnarik, Coon, Sabrin, and Howell received very little party funds. I thought they raised the money they did from lots of individual donors.

    The LP as an organization did not target the Badnarik campaign. Hundreds of individual Libertarian donors decided to send them money for various reasons. In hindsight, I think the campaign could have been runn a LOT better. But Badnarik gave it a shot and was successful at convincing individuals to donate.

    If you think there is a better candidate, support that candidate by raising $400,000 for him/her.

    I have no interest in picking Hacker’s strategic mind, but I sure hope in his post-campaign report that he discusses in detail exactly how they raised their cash. That information would very beneficial to future campaigns.

  41. Tom Bryant Says:

    The Jon Coon campaigns in Michigan were the most successful campaigns ever run in Michigan. Most of the leaders of the michigan party joined through the Jon Coon campaigns. Many of our elected city councilmen joined from the Jon Coon campaigns. If anything, the LP needs to do this is every state. When you run a really active campaign, people get interested and get involved. They are more likely to stay involved the more active the campaign. Most activists will state that they got involved because of either a Presidential race or a well-financed race like Coon’s.

    Of course, it’s not enough to simply raise money, the money must be spent on political activity that attracts support. Jon Coon’s campaign featured the largest rally ever in Lansing, and he only raised $200,000.

  42. Timothy West Says:

    i was in the hospital election day dat before and day after. sorry to hear it did not go the lp;s way. i think most people were focusing on gettin bush’s crony’s out and putting dems in to stiop irq it would no have mattered much.

    also notice i called the election result down to the seat count missing only 1. which was webb in VA. guess there no medal. :D

  43. Michael Smith Says:

    The LP has one chance, and one chance only, to be a player. And that is to have a credible, well-known, well-funded candidate for president. Easier said than done, I realize.
    Look at Perot. If he had run as a Libertarian (and actually been a libertarian), the LP would be in a very good position today because of the 30+ years of grass roots organizing. The Reform Party didn’t have this, and collapsed like a house of cards.
    It’s fine to run local races, but that’s a slow process.
    Races like Badnarik will never be successful without a catalyst at the top. The wasted vote syndrome is very real, and the earlier observation about straight-ticket voting is dead on.
    If the LP nominates another nobody to run for president, it might as well fold up….....

  44. [email protected] Says:

    On local versus “high level” politics, Chris Moore reaches the real issue: Everyone who keeps saying “the LP needs too …” (concentrate on local candidates, run a prominent presidential race, etc.) is fundamentally misunderstanding how the process works.

    There’s not some big fund of “Libertarian Party election money” disbursed by the national committee. There are a bunch of donors who give money to the campaigns THEY want to support.

    The guy who gave $2,000 to Badnarik would not necessarily have given $500 each to four candidates for state legislature, or $200 each to ten candidates for county commission, if Badnarik hadn’t been running.

    The guy who gives $100 to the LP’s presidential candidate might—or might NOT —give that money to a candidate for Missouri state legislature, 71st district, if he’s asked to.

    Badnarik had name recognition within the LP as its former presidential nominee. He parlayed that name recognition into contributions—contributions that probably would NOT, for the most part, have gone to other candidates if it hadn’t gone to him.

    Dr. Milsted’s observation is also cogent: It costs money to raise money. Tease apart the numbers, and I suspect that you’ll find that of the $400,000+ raised by the Badnarik campaign, at least $300,000+ was spent raising that money directly (i.e. mailings to prospective donors, processing fees for donations, fundraising commissions) or indirectly (i.e. travel to LP events). I haven’t broken that down yet. The only thing I really looked at was the “Outback Steakhouse factor” which, while it stood out like a sore thumb, was exceedingly small in terms of total spending.

    My off-the-cuff guesstimate is that after legitimate fundraising expenses and debatable, but not onerously high, “costs of doing business” (i.e. Outback Steakhouse) are deducted, the campaign had somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 to actually campaign with ... but that money, properly spent at all, should have put Badnarik into double digits.

    The sad part is that some of the campaigning that needed to be done, and wasn’t, would have cost little or nothing. The campaign had zero earned media presence. That didn’t have to happen. Infrequent, non-newsworthy and poorly written press releases assured that it would happen. For little or no money, that could have been turned around.

    I do hope that we’ll get a fact-based report on what happened in the campaign, and not just a bunch of “Well, there you have it … or do you? Maybe it is what it is, and maybe it only looks that way” platitudes. It would be nice to at least salvage some lessons learned from the end of a good guy’s career as a Libertarian candidate.

    Tom Knapp

  45. Jake Porter Says:

    There’s not some big fund of “Libertarian Party election money” disbursed by the national committee. There are a bunch of donors who give money to the campaigns THEY want to support.

    How much money do you think many state organizations spend to help Libertarian candidates to run for state legislature? Many times this answer is not very much or none, because they try to spend all their money and resources on one race, or try to fill up the ballots on federal races.

  46. George Phillies Says:

    How do you think the Libertarian Party, the collection self-organized of libertarians around the country, gives money to candidates? There is a single legal path. The candidates are talked up to the Libertarian public. Opinion leaders of various sorts express positive statements about teh candidates. The Libertarian masses break out their checkbooks and send the cash, a bit at a time. It is not even true that the National Party can in every state send money to a local candidate. In Massachusetts, for a non-Federal candidate, such a cash transfer would be totally illegal.

    In contrast to Michigan, in Massachusetts we also had several really large state campaigns that raised hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The state party organization and activism both imploded. The LPMA has substantialy fewer dues paying members than we did in 1996 when I was executive director.

    Having torn apart the numbers on how Badnarik spent his money, as revealed by the FEC, I do not think you will find what is being proposed.

  47. Joseph Knight Says:

    Just a few thoughts on Badnarik and electoral politics:

    • There’s nothing wrong with our message, just our marketing.
    • I’m not ready to accuse anybody of corruption until I’m convinced, and I haven’t been.
    • There’s nothing wrong with concentrating resources on the most promising campaigns (in relation to their respective objectives) and in my opinion this is basically a good idea.

    Tom’s remark, “The campaign was run poorly and did not spend the money on vote-gaining activities” is probably the correct assesment. At $53.88 per vote. a much better showing should have been expected, even with straight-ticket voting (which I beleive was more common than usual accross the country this year).

    I’ve sent some of you my Activist’s Guide (a PRAGMATIC approach), which has a section on serious electoral politics, that I’ll gladly share with anyone else on request: get my e-mail address from http://mail.libertarian-party-nm.org/pipermail/lpnm-forum_libertarian-party-nm.org/2006q4/000639.html (my PRINCIPLE statement).

  48. ornerycat Says:

    “We are flabbergasted that anyone expected Mike to win, including himself and Hacker. The main purpose for this whole thing was improving and reinforcing the national name recognition.”

    If this is true, then the campaign really misrepresented itself. I contributed because I was led to believe Badnarik had a chance at winning. Call it naivety, but I’ve only been a libertarian for a few years now, and I don’t know how well LP cadidates usually do in elections. But this misunderstanding isn’t entirely my fault. Here’s an exerpt from a contribution email I received from the Badnarik campaign back in March:

    “Very soon, Ron Paul will have a strong ally in Congress, and Libertarians will have a significant, new milestone to celebrate. Victory is within our grasp, and you have a chance to make that dream come true.”

    Even I thought this was overly optimistic. I myself would have been satisfied if Badnarik had brought in only 20% of the vote. But 4% is completely unacceptable. Badnarik might be a nice guy and a great Libertarian, but I will never contribute to his candidacy again.

  49. Roscoe Says:

    Party name could be a killer, as suggested above. Years ago, a little study was done_ three profiles, sans party name, were given to students to “elect” - the professionally qualified person won overwhelmingly. Another class was given same profiles, with party names included.
    The professional, the Libertarian, now ended up in single digits.

  50. Carl Says:

    Tom nails it.

    I too, was excited by the prospect of having a nationally known Libertarian using that internal celebrity status in order to get money concentrated into a Congressional campaign. I became less excited when I saw Badnarik travelling around the country personally to get that money. I have seen way too much money wasted on travel as a longtime Libertarian.

    I suspect the campaign could have raised $200,000 with a lesser effort and had just as much money to spend on the actual campaign. Diminishing returns is a bitch. Such a lesser fundraising effort would have left Badnarik and staff more time to knock on doors, talk to civic groups etc.

    Were I managing such a campaign, I would have spent less on fundraising and more on little things early on such as bumper stickers, yard signs, etc. Yes, the experts consider such things of little consequence, but they do give donors evidence that their money is going somewhere. My strategy might have flopped just as badly, however, so I am not going to do a neener dance here.

    Hacker’s biggest problem is that he was used to working with major party campaigns, where his strategy would have worked much better. Third party guerilla politics has some different rules.

  51. rj Says:

    ^ Sad. But perception is everything.

    “The LP has one chance, and one chance only, to be a player. And that is to have a credible, well-known, well-funded candidate for president. Easier said than done, I realize.
    Look at Perot. If he had run as a Libertarian (and actually been a libertarian), the LP would be in a very good position today because of the 30+ years of grass roots organizing. The Reform Party didn’t have this, and collapsed like a house of cards.
    It’s fine to run local races, but that’s a slow process.
    Races like Badnarik will never be successful without a catalyst at the top. The wasted vote syndrome is very real, and the earlier observation about straight-ticket voting is dead on.
    If the LP nominates another nobody to run for president, it might as well fold up….....”

    What do Libertarians think of Michael Bloomberg? He would be a case of more the Libertarians needing Bloomberg than Bloomberg needing the Libertarians, but I know he has not denied wanting to run for President in 2008, and he has to know that he would never win the Republican nomination.

  52. James Anderson Merritt Says:

    It is interesting to see people saying now that “local races are the key—build the foundation.” When others have said that in the past, and even pointed to local electoral success, this information has been dismissed: “...but does the LP occupy a SIGNIFICANT office on the state or national scene?”

    I personally think that building from local roots is the best long-term strategy, but I understand that this is unsatisfactory to many people who seek bigger and quicker victory.

    In this political season, I was encouraged at the number of Libertarian candidates who faced off against major party opponents in “official” televised debates. People such as David Nolan and Barry Hess in AZ, Eric Schansberg in IN, Bruce Guthrie in WA, and several others represented the LP well and were, if underdogs, at least credible and respectable in their debate appearances. I was especially impressed by Schansberg, and hope we see more of him.

    I agree that, had an Ed Thompson run for the House had the same campaign budget as Michael Badnarik’s, Ron Paul would be welcoming a Libertarian freshman congressman from Wisconsin in January. In a parallel universe, perhaps. :-) Seriously, can we get Mr. Ed to run for Congress in 2008?

    Rather than Badnarik travelling all around, I would have been much happier to see others travelling to HIM. That is to say, part of the reason that people won’t vote for third parties is that they perceive them as being small in numbers and power, and limited in scope. Sending candidates or other party leaders around to help with other candidates’ campaigns might pay dividends. For instance, I think Badnarik could have gotten a boost from Thompson, Nall, Nolan (David AND Gary!), and several others. The messages that the public would receive: this thing is nationwide; we’re organized, and help each other; we have talented, serious people everywhere; and the problems of liberty are likewise everywhere! I realize that we can’t cross-promote in every case, but judicious use of this tactic in promising or important races might help.

    Finally, I read suggestions that we need credible civic leaders to run for office as Libertarians. Bob Smither—a known and respected volunteer organizer and private businessman in his area—did just that in TX-22. What’s more, he had only a Democrat on the ballot against him, no GOP after DeLay quit—the GOP candidate was a write-in. Despite doing very well in candidate appearances, from what I could see, and being the only true fiscal conservative in the race, Smither got just 6% of the vote, while the WRITE-IN Republican got almost 42%! Maybe we need bigger and more well-known civic leaders to run, someone like Thompson in Wisconsin, or Art Olivier in California (running for governor now, but perhaps better suited as state assemblyman or Senator, or congressman). If there was anything like a “perfect storm” for the LP, the CD-22 election at first seemed to be it—yet Smither didn’t do that much better in this race than Badnarik did in his, albeit at a much lower cost per vote in the case of the former. Both candidates were FAR away from being contenders when all the votes were in.

    I think we’re going to have to think, long and hard, about the information provided by this year’s election results. Instead of taking out the knives in the biennial exercise in self-recrimination and finger-pointing, let’s see what this cycle taught us, and how we can use the lessons to WIN next time.

  53. Phil Sawyer Says:

    The Libertarian Party has had only one real shot at becoming a major-sized political party - and it blew it! That was in the year 1980. There was probably a good chance that Eugene J. McCarthy would have accepted the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president if it had been offered to him. Indeed, Senator McCarthy had given the keynote address at the Libertarian Party national convention in 1977. As usual, the speech was pure, vintage, McCarthy substance. I know that because I was there in person.

    Perhaps the Party will have another chance at the big times. If Jesse Ventura wants to run for president in 2008, the Libertarian (or Green) Party would be the best way to go. He should not run as an independent; he needs the base of support that a political party could give him.

  54. Michael Smith Says:

    Ventura also needs the ballot access the LP provides (unlike a Bloomberg, who could buy all the ballot access he wanted).
    Unfortunately, if a Ventura or Barr seeks the nomination, they will probably get passed over for a party insider.
    Michael Cloud once said that if you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten. We’ll see if the LP heeds that advice. I wouldn’t bet on it…..

  55. Jason Gatties Says:

    I’m running for office in 2008 at the county level. You must get experience some how. I agree that Badnarik would have been better suited to run for a smaller race. Change begins at the local level.

  56. Timothy West Says:

    maybe the voters dont buy what the LP keeps trying to tell them.

  57. Otto Kerner Says:

    Out Michael Bloomberg, Bob Barr, and Jesse Ventura, none of them are libertarians. Ventura might be able to pass as one in a pinch, but the other two would be blatantly out of place at the top of an LP ticket.

  58. Timothy West Says:

    btw, cheif wanna dubie out polled Badnarik.

  59. Andy Cleary Says:

    This is probably the wrong place to opine such, but I think that asking the question “how can we best work towards making the LP successful” is a question that can only make sense after addressing the question “how can we best advance libertarianism in the US/world?” A political party is only one avenue for trying to achieve the latter, and after 30-some odd years of not only futility, but a clear change in the system enacted by the two ruling parties to more firmly keep third parties out (Perot having given them a little scare, they have further tightened the screws on, e.g. campaign finance and the televised national debates), it is certainly worth asking the question “has the LP become a sink that is draining what little resources and energy there is for advancing libertarianism?”

    I’ve been a member for a long time but I started spending my energies for libertarianism elsewhere… Think tanks that advance “free minds and free markets”, FreeState projects, organizations designed to achieve a libertarian inroad within exisitng parties to influence them gently, etc… I don’t know if any of these are going to work but it’s clear to me that the LP is not… through no fault of anyone, it’s just that the system is rigged and a 3rd party has no more chance in the US as a 2nd party had in the USSR.

  60. Joe Says:

    Tom Knapp and I have had our differences in the past, but I have to agree with his (and Carl’s) analysis of this race. Most of the money was spent trying to raise more money, but that approach doesn’t work for Libertarians the way it does for Ds and Rs. We need to spend more of our limited pool of money on the actual campaign. (And, as Tom points out, we need to do other things that are effective but cost little or no money.)

    I think Michael was a very credible candidate. He probably didn’t have the ties to the local community that would have been built up by running for, and possibly getting elected and serving as, a local officeholder. But, considering how “geographically diverse” and spread out his district is, I don’t think even serving as a county commissioner or state rep would have made much difference to the majority of his constituents. It might have boosted his totals in the part of the district where he lives, but not a lot of effect district-wide. I do think Michael is very presentable and gets his message across well in person, and on TV and radio when he can get on. He is a good, if not perfect, candidate (the perfect candidate would be someone with Ross Perot’s money and Clint Eastwood’s name recognition!)

    I lay the blame for the poor showing squarely at Hacker’s feet. The guy was supposed to know what he was doing and he failed to deliver, big time. Even if there was only $50-100K available to actually spend on advertising (and I am convinced that that figure could easily been $200K or more of the over $400K raised, if the campaign was well-managed), there was no excuse for not spending at least half of the available funds on TV and radio advertising. That is what really clicks with the public. Case in point, the Senate campaign here in TN. Bob Corker (who ultimately won) and Harold Ford Jr. spent a combined total of about $25 million.

    Based on the very limited amounts of direct mail and newspaper or other advertising I saw in the Chattanooga area, and the constant TV commercials, I know where those guys put most of their money. And they turned out their voters! Their campaign consultants obviously know a lot more about winning than Hacker does. One thing is for sure, while I will donate to Michael if he runs again (preferably for a local or state office), I will never donate a dime to any campaign Hacker is involved with in the future. I feel he wasted my money and let Michael, and all Libertarians, down.

  61. Kris Overstreet Says:

    No progress will be made towards a more Libertarian nation until and unless Libertarians are elected to government in substantial numbers. Q. E. D.

  62. Jose C Says:

    The Constitution Party comments on Michael Badnarik’s election results. They say (from the Constitution Party web site):

    “Ron Avery, the Constitution Party candidate for Congress in Texas’ 28th Congressional District won 13% of the vote. This can be compared to the 4% of the vote received by recent Libertarian candidate Michael Badnarik, who was that party’s most recent Presidential nominee, despite his pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into the race in another Texas Congressional District.”

    How sad this is. $400,000 raised and spent and all we have to show for it is 4%.

    By the way the Constitution Party elected a candidate (Rick Jore) to the state legislature in Montana (Montana’s 12th District). He received 56.2% of the vote.

    What Rick Jore’s victory shows is that an alternative party candidate can win. I am sure he unlike Michael Badnarik’s campaign spent his contributions wisely. It is obvious he must have other positives going for him and his campaign (personality, organization, experience, ethics, . . .). He must have done something and had something going for him after all he did receive 56.2% of the vote.

    Where were we? How many candidates did we elect to a state legislature in 2006? Zero. How sad this is.

  63. Jim Lesczynski Says:

    What do Libertarians think of Michael Bloomberg? He would be a case of more the Libertarians needing Bloomberg than Bloomberg needing the Libertarians, but I know he has not denied wanting to run for President in 2008, and he has to know that he would never win the Republican nomination.

    How about Satan? Is Satan available? True, he’s not 100% libertarian, but he’s got high name recognition and a lot of experience in politics.

  64. [email protected] Says:

    Another note on fundraising and how there’s no “central pool” of money for Libertarian campaigns. In one sense there IS such a central pool, and Badnarik had access to that pool to a greater degree than other LP candidates.

    Badnarik was the LP’s 2004 presidential nominee, That gave him high name recognition within the LP. When he sent out a fundraising letter or showed up at an LP event, people knew who he was—maybe even more so than they knew who their local candidate for county commission, who lived a mile away from them, was. Furthermore, as the LP’s former presidential nominee, Badnarik had a very nice LIST OF DONORS to that presidential campaign to send his fundraising mailings to. Those lists don’t grow on trees.

    So, he had certain advantages in terms of being able to appeal to LP donors for support. But still, there was no central party-controlled apparatus for deciding “ah, we’ll funnel money to Michael Badnarik instead of Candidates A, B and C” per se. There was no switch that the party organization could throw which would have caused the money that flowed to Badnarik to flow to Rex Bell in Indiana, or “the Vermont five,” or Art Olivier in California instead.

    Beyond all that, I urge you to consider a simple proposition: THERE ARE NO SILVER BULLETS. The LP will not magically become successful when it does some single thing X. It has to do X, Y, Z, A13, BR549, and a bunch of other things, it has to do them better, and it has to do them better consistently.

    What really sucks is that we don’t even know what all the Xes and Ys and Zs are, let alone how they all fit together. We can make pretty good guesses at some of them, but we don’t have any kind of hard template, because we don’t have a precedent to follow. The last time a “third party” ascended to “major party” status nationwide and for any length of time was 150 years ago (when the GOP replaced the Whigs), and the situation and the mechanics of electoral politics were very different in many ways then. We’re trying to put together a 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle … and we’re doing it blindfolded, only allowed to take a peek and see how well we’ve been putting pieces together, every couple of years when the voters cast their ballots.

    Politics is a cast-iron bitch, guys. All we can do is keep plugging, try to catch and correct the worst of our mistakes, try to learn lessons and then apply them correctly, and hope for lucky breaks.

    Tom Knapp

  65. NewFederalist Says:

    Jose C- not to take away from Rick Jore’s victory in any way (he actually won the seat two years ago in a 3 way race but was screwed by a court decision) but he had repesented that district before as a Republican before switching parties. This time around the GOP did not oppose his bid and he easily ousted the Democratic incumbent. In other words, he was a known quantity in the district.

  66. Patrick C Says:

    Property taxes and eminent domain are two issues minor parties can win with on the local level! It is clear there is no support to wage a campaign for federal offices, so why not concentrate on winning City Halls, and City Councils?

  67. Reader Says:

    Mr Winger’s comment is not pertinent in the sense that all LP congressional candidates faced the same problem. And Badnarik did not do particularly better than they did and they had far, far less money.

    Now FEC records can be accessed on line. Go and look at how the funds were spent. Most was not spent on fund raising as some thought. Most was spent on administration, staff, a $3000 per month office and there were lots of “business meals” paid for by the campign. Lots of them. Most days there was one and often two such “business meals”

    If you look at the first 18 days of October (the last period filed) you find they spent $1300 on fundraising, $3054 on rent, $12,675 on management and consulting fees and $753 on business means (just 18 days remember). And unlike the previous reporting period (July to September) they actually spent some money on campaigning for things like bumper stickers and brochures. But only a few thousand in total and no where near what the spent on management and consulting.

    They also paid for air flights to attend the Harry Browne memorial—not a campaign expense and if they were fund raising there they lack propriety. In the July to September period they paid $38,000 to “Articulate Management”, $9162 for rent, $3065 for consulting fees, and almost $2500 for 72 different “business meals” Only $7600 is listed as fundraising expenses.

    Instead of debating what happened people should read the FEC reports and draw their own conclusions based on the actual spending patterns not on conjecture and assumptions.

  68. Eric Dondero Says:

    Tom Knapp says all we have to do is “keep pluging away.” How absurd. The product we are selling is not being bought by the American public. It’s not just Badnarik. I worked for Bob Smither. He got a lot less votes than we had hoped for. I blame myself partly for his poor showing.

    It’s very disheartening.

    I suggest that we consider a major reform of our entire libertarian movement.

    Joe Knight says our “ideals aren’t to blame.” I disagree Joe. They most certainly are.

    The ideology is not the whole package. But it’s at least 50% to blame. We need to start pushing incrementalism, and seriously water down libertarianism to make it more appealing to mostly female middle of the road voters. They ain’t buying this “rugged individualism” stuff. They spoke loudly and clearly. The want socialized health care, government funded college tuition, and nanny state education and day care. We libertarians offer nothing to this demographic group.

    It’s time we “Oprah Winfrey-ize” the libertarian movement.

    But it’s not only our beliefs that needs to change. We need to desperately change our appearance and presentation.

    Face it guys, we’re all basically 30s and 40s something white guys, some of us with pot bellies and receding hair lines.

    Women just are not attracted to that these days.

    We need better looking people involved in the libertarian movement, especially in leadership/candidate roles.

    Will you all please take a moment to go to Sarah Palin’s web site at www.palinforgovernor.com

    Take a look at the newly elected Alaska Governor and even her running mate Bill Parnell. Both are stunningly attractive. She’s a former beauty queen. He looks like a model.

    I’m here in Alaska right now dealing with the public on a daily basis, petitioning for overturn of the smoking ban. I hear all the conversations about the Governor’s race.

  69. Eric Dondero Says:

    (Sorry, hit the trigger too fast).

    The ONLY thing people are talking about is how good looking Sarah is. ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about her policies.

    People want fluff. They want superficial. They want National Enquirer. They want Celebrity.

    How can you argue with Arnold’s 68% vote in California, in an otherwise horrible Republican year?

    Arnold got 68% of the vote for Governor, his running mater policy wonkish McClintock got 46% and lost for Lt. Governor.

    Guys, PLEASE CONSIDER THIS. I know it’s very hard for us to swallow. But if you look at the post election stats, that’s the only thing you can walk away with.

    We need to soften our rhetoric, and make our appearance more appealing to mostly female voters.

  70. Eric Dondero Says:

    Andy blames the Libertarian Party. Says it just ain’t working after 30 some years.

    I blame the entire libertarian movement.

    Andy, the Republican Liberty Caucus sufered a bad year too. Not nearly as bad as the LP, but some major longtime RLC guys lost reelection for State House and Congress.

    Who do I blame even more than the LP or RLC?

    The educational wing of the libertarian movement, Cato, Reason, Advocates for Self-Government et.al.

    They failed us. The American public does not like nor accept libertarianism.

    It’s not so much our political candidates who are to blame, it’s more those whose job it is to sell libertarianism to the public.

    They’ve done a horribly piss poor job at it, and we political libertarians are suffering for it.

    Take Cato for instance. Outside of the Beltway does anyone care for or listen to what they are saying?

    The Advocates? I heard they’re almost bankrupt.

    Reason? Only 60,000 subscribers after nearly 40 years in existence. How often do you see someone from Reason on Fox News or CNN compared to the Weekly Standard or New Republic?

    We LPers and RLCers are partly to blame cause we’re not running enough female, attractive, celebrity type candidates. But the educational wing of our movement is far more to blame, cause they just ain’t reaching Middle America.

  71. Paul Green Says:

    For decades, Libertarians have taken the wrong course. They have consistently run unqualified candidates for offices they cannot win. I’ve compared the Libertarian strategy to a new college graduate with a degree in accounting walking into Deloitte and Touche, asking for an application, filling in the box marked Position Sought with the title “CEO”, and expecting to get the job.

    I’ve asked many people what they know about the Libertarian Party. Those who are not involved in politics often reply with the only perception they have of the Party: “You always lose.” They don’t about the 600 small officeholders around the country. What they do know is that every candidate we’ve ever run for council member in a major city, county commissioner, state representative, state senator, secretary of state, lieutenant governor, governor, U.S. representative, U.S. Senator and U.S. president has lost. How could people not see us as a party that always loses?

    This creates a huge image problem for the party. Any rational person would ask how serious we are about politics if we keep using the same failed strategy year after year. Libertarians are fond of mocking the war on drugs by quoting Einstein: “One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” But if we are honest, that is exactly what Libertarians have been doing since the Party was founded. By Einstein’s definition, Libertarians are stark raving mad.

    We must embark on a new strategy. We must start winning small local races and gradually move up the political ladder one rung at a time. We must only endorse candidates who are qualified for the position they are seeking. We must discourage Libertarians from running losing campaigns. To this end, the Libertarian Party of Ohio recently created a Candidate Review Committee the goal of which is “...to ensure that only qualified candidates who will advance the cause of liberty, serve the public well, and bring respect and honor to the Party are endorsed by the Libertarian Party of Ohio.”

    I’m putting this strategy into practice in Cincinnati. There are 52 neighborhoods in Cincinnati and each has its own community council. Many current and former Cincinnati City Council members got their start in politics at the community council level. I am in my third term as president of the council in Northside and will be running for a fourth term in January. I hope to gain enough political experience to make a serious run for City Council someday.

    I know this approach is slow. It’s a shame that the LP didn’t start doing it 35 years ago. But it is the only viable strategy there is for Libertarians to win political office.

    Paul Green
    Hamilton County (Ohio) Libertarian Party

  72. Joseph Knight Says:

    Eric Dondero, our ideals are why we do it. Changing sides (philosophy wise) isn’t a strategy, it’s surrender. And I have NEVER opposed incrementalism so long as it’s in the right direction. What I’ve said is that the LP should have a bottom-line priciple based-position on every issue and our candidates should run on shorter-scope, marketable, incremental platforms that would move us toward those ideals.

    “The want socialized health care, government funded college tuition, and nanny state education and day care. We libertarians offer nothing to this demographic group.”

    Is this YOUR concept of incrementalism? To offer gov’t goodies to get votes?

    As for attracting more good-looking women, well you got ne there. You bring them in and I’ll welcome them!

  73. James Anderson Merritt Says:

    Eric Dondero says we need to offer good-looking fluff. Well, Art Olivier, running for governor here in CA, and his family are all attractive people. Granted, he was running against the unstoppable Governator this year, and he wasn’t truly “fluffy,” but then, neither was he an obvious policy wonk on the campaign trail. Look at how few votes he earned—in California, where style so often triumphs over substance! Art even campaigned on tightening our borders and denying entitlement benefits to illegal immigrants! That’s a hot-button in Mexican border states such as California if there ever was one, at at time when Schwarzenegger was generally considered to be somewhat soft on the immigration issue (not the least reason for which being that he is obviously an immigrant himself). By comparison, the more average looking Dale Ogden pulled over twice the votes, running for Insurance Commissioner, as Olivier earned in the gubernatorial race.

    Maybe Eric is just being cynically facetious—I hope so. Anyway, if you need a counter-example to the proposition that “good looking” equals higher vote count, Olivier’s your man, and I say this with all respect and affection due to a nice guy, with previous electoral experience, who, I believe, ran a very credible race. Then again, perhaps if he had come off as more So Cal Surfer, he might have earned more votes. Who can say, dude?

  74. James Anderson Merritt Says:

    Thanks to Joseph Knight, for his reply to Eric Dondero. Our ideals are, indeed, why we do it. If all you want to do is hold office as a party-puppet, the Demos and GOP already exist. Go there, young man, and knock yourself out.

    Perhaps our biggest handicap is an inability to lie persuasively. Look at the neocons. They took over the GOP despite clear Trotskyite origins and a mercantilist/imperalist worldview, which normally would be at very least uncomfortable to traditional Republicans, if not downright repulsive. How did they do it? Lies, lies, and more lies. They baited with talk of limited government and switched to their true agenda at the first opportunity. Perhaps, if Libertarians could lie as well as neocons or Al Qaeda sleeper agents, they could permeate the parties and, when the time was ripe, reveal their true colors—something like what Supreme Court justices often seem to do, once confirmed to the bench.

    What a concept: to lie continually and consistently for two or three decades, just to be able to get in position to the truly momentous “right thing” at the proper time. I hate to admit it, but perhaps the jihadists are on to something.

  75. [email protected] Says:

    Quoth Eric Dondero:

    “Tom Knapp says all we have to do is ‘keep pluging away.’”

    Actually, I said mostly the opposite: We have to learn a continuously changing set of lessons about what works, what doesn’t, and why, and then we have to apply those lessons correctly while they’re working and stop applying them when they stop working.

    Everyone—including me, but especially you, Eric—wants to look at what happened Tuesday and come up with some magical, wondrous single answer to why things went the way they did. THERE IS NO SUCH WOUNDROUS SINGLE ANSWER.

    If it’s all about being good-looking, explain Rick Jore’s victory in Montana. He’s not exactly a Pierce Brosnan double, and he wasn’t promising national health care and an organic latte in every cup.

    Jon Tester isn’t going to win any beauty contests either, but he won an election.

    Joe Lieberman looks like Janet Reno and that guy from the Rocky Horror Picture Show with the fringy hair had a kid—guess who Connecticut sent back to the Senate?

    Different factors play in different ways in different races.

    Yeah, being attractive probably helps, unless you’re ugly in some novel and ingratiating way. You’re probably going to get more votes with happy talk than with facts and figures, and you’re probably going to get more votes if you advertise than if you don’t, and you’re probably going to get more votes if people can pronounce your name than if it sounds like someone coughing while swearing in Portugese. There are exceptions, but those are reasonable expectations.

    But: It’s very seldom that you can point to just one factor and say “that explains it all.” The LP doesn’t need a bunch of silver bullet bullshit, it needs to get better at EVERYTHING, and that’s a complicated and difficult thing to do.

    Tom Knapp

  76. George Whitfield Says:

    Hello Paul Green. I am impressed by your approach and persistence. Let us know when you decide to run for City Council. I would be interested in supporting you.

  77. George Whitfield Says:

    The LP’s Candidate Tracker may help us better decide on which LP campaigns to contribute to in the future. Unfortunately it was not in operation until late in this campaign season after much of the early fund-raising had been started. I’ll defer to Sean Hough on this point as he knows the most about it, but is there a facton in the Tracker that looks at what amount of the raised funds are going to pay for a campaingn manager versus what is going toward actual outreach to the voters? Is there some factor that covers if the campaign has prioritized getting a basic brochure out to the voters, whether by door hangers, direct mail, etc.?

  78. Joseph Knight Says:

    There ARE silver bullets - but until/unless one comes along, we need to keep plugging away - as TK said, at analysis as well as activity. (People DO win the lottery but it would sure be dumb to quit your job and just wait for your number to come up.)

    As for being good looking, well, it DOES help a LOT (as I’ve pointed out in my Electoral Campaigns Section) if people LIKE you.

    Knapp is generally pretty perceptive about stuff and he’s correct when he says “THERE IS NO SUCH WOUNDROUS SINGLE ANSWER” and that the LP must “get better at EVERYTHING, and that’s a complicated and difficult thing to do.”

    (Hey Tom, do you remember when you recomended to LPNM that they duct-tape my mouth shut?)

  79. georgia Says:

    First things first. Today the LP represents the views of less than 5% of the population. The additional votes are more of the “none of the above variety”

    Second to the vast majority of the American population the LP is made up of gun toting, wild west anarchists. Who’s views include: everyone carries a gun, the income tax is illegal so don’t pay, and the government can’t and shouldn’t tell me anything. Badnarik’s campaign was just $400,000 spent on preaching to the choir. We would bet that not one citizen of District 10 changed their minds on the true values and beliefs of the LP

  80. Steven R. Linnabary Says:

    Eric Says:

    The ideology is not the whole package. But it’s at least 50% to blame. We need to start pushing incrementalism, and seriously water down libertarianism to make it more appealing to mostly female middle of the road voters. They ain’t buying this “rugged individualism” stuff. They spoke loudly and clearly. The want socialized health care, government funded college tuition, and nanny state education and day care. We libertarians offer nothing to this demographic group.


    I disagree with Eric, I don’t believe we have ever truly spoken to women in general. He is right, inthat women DO think differently than men do.

    My good friend, Nick Hogan, a Gahanna City Councilman the last twenty years or so says it is easy to reach women: Think of it as 4F&H
    To reach women you have to speak to their concerns, which he says can be described as faith, family, friends, future and health.
    Socialized healthcare DOES speak to those concerns. But I think a smart libertarian could also do it without selling out or by lying or even with “incrementalism”, which is IMHO, a little of both.


  81. [email protected] Says:


    I seem to recall some years back that you and I might have been on opposite sides of some argument.

    I don’t recall recommending that anyone “duct tape your mouth shut,” but what the hell—I was youthful and intemperate until I hit 40 (which happens to have been about 48 hours ago), so I probably did say something like that.

    Now, I don’t even remember what the dispute was or why I might have made such a statement. These days, I agree with you at least half the time, don’t generally find what you’re saying unreasonable even when we disagree, and am damn glad to have you out there weighing in when it counts. I guess you’re getting smarter as I get older ;-)

    And you’re right—yes, there are some silver bullets of a sort … but as you point out, they’re the kind of silver bullets that turn up unexpectedly, that have to be used immediately, and that can’t be reproduced at will (i.e. one opponent dies, the other gets caught having sex with his neighbor’s goat, and the local rag accidentally inserts your name in its endorsements). We should shoot those silver bullets when they magically appear in our pistol’s chamber, but we can’t count on them doing so … so we still need to concentrate on getting a thousand different non-negotiable fundamental mechanics right, repeatedly. And we’re still a long way from doing so.

    Read any good “campaign diary” type of book—I suggest Smashmouth by Dana Milbank or Joe Trippi’s The Revolution Will Not Be Televised—and you’ll see how often even the big guys get stuff wrong. These are people who have decades of winning races under their belts, and yet they turn around and blow it with surprising frequency. And we’re handicapped by the “duopoly” paradigm … we don’t just have to be as good as them to beat them, we have to be better.

    If you ever see a case of Pepcid AC listed as a campaign disbursement, it’s legit.

    Tom Knapp

  82. Nick Wilson Says:

    Let’s look at the good side, though. At least Badnarik won’t be the LP’s presidential candidate in 2008.

    Or will he? Stranger things have happened, and somehow I won’t be surprised at all.

  83. Carl Milsted Says:

    It’s about freedom baby!

    Freedom. Not consistent application of the axiom of non-initiation of force.

    Who puts our youth into uniforms, and bosses them around? Who gives our more do this or else orders?

    Hint: it ain’t the military, and it ain’t the police.

    It’s corporations.

    For people trapped on the lower end of the wage scale (and many who are much farther up), the government is Godzilla: dangerous and destructive, but protecting the city from the more dangerous Freeze Monster or whatnot.

    Proprietary communities are typically more repressive than local governments. You have more freedom in the public square than you do in a shopping mall. Getting away from it all in a national forest is a freedom vision for most people.

    The Libertarian Party is emotionally inconsistent. Freedom has multiple dimensions, including:

    *Freedom from the cop and the bureaucrat

    *Freedom from the boss

    *Freedom from everyone else

    The LP focuses almost entirely on the first freedom.

    All this minituae about campaigning overlooks the fundamental point: if you have a message that sells, you can sell it. If you don’t you won’t. Money, sound bite crafting, effective campaign management, focusing of resources, etc. won’t do the job. These things are worthless without a compelling message. With a compelling message, they are useful.

    Try this experiment. Next time you do petitioning, tell people what your message is. Be honest. Don’t hold back. Don’t even ask for a signature unless the person likes your message. If you don’t get the signatures of at least a third of those willing to talk to you, you need to change your message.

    If you can get on the ballot this way, you deserve to be there; otherwise, you don’t.

    I joined the LP as an Oath-following, Rothbard-reading anarcho-capitalist. and remained that way for about a decade. During that time it was a freakish occurence when someone agreed with my message—and those rare occurences were when I encountered someone else who had already been exposed to the LP.

    Today, I have a pro-freedom message that sells. I get heads nodding in the vertical direction as a matter of course. The difference in response is well over an order of magnitude. I can work a hard-left audience, talking mainly about economic issues (including major cuts in government), and get hugs afterwards.

    With such a message it is possible to build a real base. With such a base, professional campaign management could well be useful for handling the endgame.

  84. undercover_anarchist Says:

    “the other gets caught having sex with his neighbor’s goat”

    Come on. How realistic is it that the LP will be squaring off against the Constitution Party, one-on-one?

    Maybe the CP should change its name to the BP; the Borat Party. It might win some votes of people under 55/ non-Amish.

  85. Eric Dondero Says:

    Tom, Libertarian Party reformers have been saying exactly the same thing you have been saying here for decades. After each devastating loss (save 1980, and perhaps 1994), LPers analyze the results and say we need to “keep plugging away,” change some things here and there, but one day we will win.

    That day never comes. It’s just defeat, after defeat, after defeat.

    I w