Our Interview with Shane Cory

In November of 2005 we had the chance to talk with Shane Cory, then the Libertarian Party’s Chief of Staff. Since that time, Mr. Cory has been promoted to the position of Executive Director.

Once again Mr. Cory has agreed to talk with Third Party Watch. In the interview that follows he shares his take on a wide variety of issues—including the 2006 elections, Bob Barr joining the LNC, the failure of the Badnarik campaign, and what’s in store for 2007.

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TPW: Would you consider 2006 a good year for the Libertarian Party? Why or why not?

Cory: Overall, I would say that the LNC did well. In 2005, I would say that we merely survived but this year we started to turn the ship around. Financially, we started the year with a bleak forecast. We had a very large stack of bills to pay (about $150k), an upcoming convention that typically impacts other donations, plus a loss of revenue due to the essential elimination of membership dues (about 35% of our income).

As of our latest financial report, we have whittled this down to a near-current $35k or so. This is the lowest amount of debt the LP has carried in many, many years.

Setting aside good signs of financial responsibility and decent fundraising, I would say that the party as a whole didn’t do too hot.

There is no putting lipstick on our election results this year. We ran too few candidates and of those candidates, not many received even a moderate level of support (man hours and money).

This led to incomplete campaigns. Some candidates did well with media but didn’t have the volunteer resources/time for fundraising efforts. Others did well with fundraising but generated no media. In talking to our Candidate Tracker coordinator, Sean Haugh, we realized that basically not a single well-rounded campaign had been run.

Let me be clear in saying that this is not a failure of our candidates, but of our organization. Being a candidate alone is a Herculean task. Being a candidate who books the media, stuffs the envelopes and handles the accounting is impossible. From the national level to the local level, we have to do a better job of offering support to our most valuable assets, our candidates.

With that said, some of our affiliates did a heck of a job this year in recruiting and supporting candidates. In particular, Texas and Indiana set an example that we should follow on all levels.

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TPW: The Texas CD-10 race saw Michael Badnarik spend a half-million dollars to achieve only 4% of the vote. This result seems more in line with “paper” candidates who don’t even campaign. Personally, what do you think went wrong in that race?

Cory: That’s the half-million dollar question. Badnarik’s campaign spent $450k so far and got 4.3% of the vote. . . about $59 per vote. It’s clear something went wrong in this race. Something went wrong in more than 600 other LP races this year as well.

Of course this particular campaign is unique in the amount of money raised and how it was spent. I think it should be looked into so that we can figure out what went wrong and how we should avoid it in the future. When he’s ready, I’m sure Michael will sit down at some point down the road and help construct an accurate post-mortem on the campaign. A post-mortem of the campaign for historical purposes would be a benefit to the LP. This is not to say that we need a new report about what’s wrong with the LP and how we should save it (that’s a four word report for me . . . Less Talk, More Work).

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TPW: There seems to be growing talk among some in the party that LP candidates just can’t win, no matter what happens. How do you feel on the matter? Do you think that the party should continue to make electoral success a primary objective?

Cory: The only way that we cannot win is if we stop trying. I say the entire premise of that argument is damned ridiculous. What else are we supposed to do? Hang out at intersections with signs screaming at passing cars?

We are a political party. Our job is to find and elect Libertarians.

We are not a think tank, lobbying firm, educational organization, book club or debate society. We are not Jack’s inflamed Church of Libertarianism. We are a political party.

If we do anything aside from moving forward with our mission statement, we are fools for doing so.

We have both hands tied behind our backs by the FEC. If we wanted to do any of the above, we could be a 501( c )3 or ( c )4. We could accept unlimited funds and corporate dollars.

If an LP member feels that we shouldn’t run candidates and should focus on education outreach or anything else, then he or she should support CATO or another libertarian non-profit.

We have too few resources to apply to anything but getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight.

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TPW: Bob Barr’s addition to the LNC made a great deal of news. How did that come about and do you think Congressman Barr would consider taking on a greater role in the future, either as the 2008 Presidential candidate or in some other capacity?

Cory: First, I believe that Bob has clearly stated that he won’t be running for any office.

How this came about is pretty simple (despite the many rumors to the contrary).

I asked Bob to officially join the party as a member and he did.

When I learned that there was a change in the position of Region 4 Rep, I called up the alternate and asked him if he had considered Bob Barr as the new representative. He said no but thought it was a great idea and asked me to gauge Bob’s interest.

In discussing the position with Bob, he asked my thoughts and I gave him the long list of cons and the one pro . . . it would benefit the party and add some leadership that we desperately need.

After the state chairs in the region met and made an offer, I sat down with Bob again and, despite the many cons of the job (trust me, being an LNC member is a sacrifice of time, money and sanity and we should be grateful that we have qualified people willing to do the job), he accepted without hesitation.

Bob Barr has been a supporter and advocate for the party for years. He spoke at our 2004 and 2006 national convention, he endorsed Badnarik for president, he was a major donor to at least three LP candidates that I’m aware of, and controls one of only two PACs that funded the LNC in 2006 (the other was the Rob Kampia’s PAC with MPP). Not to mention all of his work on privacy and other issues.

The LP’s relationship with former Congressman Barr has been built over the years by numerous people, especially former Executive Director Joe Seehusen.

Essentially, this was a long time coming and I had an opportunity to ask the right questions at the right times.

Yes, some people are upset over his previous or current stances but, I’m sorry, ideology plays no role in the managerial duties of an LNC member. If someone doesn’t like an individual’s views, make sure they don’t get on the Platform Committee.

A few other people take issue with “LPHQ’s influence in the process.” Basically, they say I was too involved in the process. Everything has to be a scandal right? So to clear that up, I was heavily involved in the process. I made the recommendation, twisted arms and influenced everyone I could to make sure that when a former congressman is willing to make a big jump to the LP, we wouldn’t go into Anita Hill hearings over his Nolan Chart scores.

I think time will tell that this was a very good move for the LP. We need leadership, we need experience and the affiliates in his region need the support and influence that Bob has to offer.

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TPW: What is the current financial position of the LNC?strong>

Cory: We’re doing much better as I noted above but we have a very long way to go. We’ll need another $250k for ballot access this year (it’s now a core function) and we need to do some serious prospecting to our own file and outside of our typical circles.

Our existing donor base is phenomenal. They are the true heroes of this party that make everything happen but they cannot continue to carry the burden alone. We’ll be doing all that we can this year to increase our number of active donors as much as possible.

And yes, I did bring back the water cooler.

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TPW: Why was Denver selected to host the LP’s 2008 convention? What other cities were considered?

Cory: Denver got the bid because they wined and dined us Howard Hughes style.

Yes, I’m kidding.

There were many other factors that came into play. The most important factor in my opinion is the level of support coming from the Colorado LP. Combine that with the volunteer efforts of BetteRose Ryan who will handle logistics at this convention and I think we’ll have a winner.

Austin and Cleveland we’re also considered along with a few others I believe. Austin has clout to a great degree thanks to Nancy Neale (our 2004 organizer) being a resident of the college town. I hope that in 2010 we can make it down to Texas.

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TPW: Finally, what are your plans and goals as we enter 2007? Feel free to address both your personal goals as well as those of the Libertarian National Committee at large.

Cory: The LNC established our goals this year which I believe is a great step in the right direction. These goals mesh with what we here at HQ feel is important for the LP, as should be the case.

Some of the goals that standout are meeting our reserve requirement, i.e. being financially responsible; building our donor base to 25k (this goes hand in hand with the first); and having 51 operational affiliates.

The last goal mentioned will be our biggest challenge but is the most important in the long run. The national party would be pretty much useless without state affiliates and, conversely, our state affiliates would have a rough time without the national party.

We need each other and need to work to strengthen one another so that we can eventually support our great candidates with well-rounded campaigns.

168 Responses to “Our Interview with Shane Cory”

  1. Rev Bill Williams Says:

    Sir:

    I am greatly pleased to see this interview from Mr. Cory and have been rightly impressed with the actions of the LP over the course of the last year or so.

    I am especially impressed that someone with the stature of Bob Barr has joined the Libertarian Party, but more so that he has taken an active role. I only wish more of the so called blow heads did more to promote freedom instead of simply abusing their freedom of speech.

    Thank goodness for the good people like Mr. Corey and Mr. Barr. I am especially impressed by what Mr. Barr has said in an interview or two—which is: “the Constitution is under such assault in this day and age. In order to have any chance of saving the Constitution and our civil liberties, we need a party dedicated to that cause.” Obviously, more and more every day the LP is that party!

    Keep up all the good work Mr. Cory and Mr. Barr—and to all those who just want complain, I say get active, donate your time or money or both, and concentrate your fight against all those opposed to the LP Principles and the right to free choice, speech, religion, peace and prosperity!

  2. Timothy West Says:

    ballot access needs to be studied from a cost/benefit analysis. Dumping absurd amounts of money into getting states on the ballot that wind up voting

  3. Timothy West Says:

    ballot access needs to be studied from a cost/benefit analysis. Dumping absurd amounts of money into getting states on the ballot that wind up voting 1~2% for our candidates is just dumb. Me and Bill don’t agree on this of course, but I would rather focus limited resources on States where LP support is stronger as a natural result. I’d rather hit Indiana and Texas hard in addition to other states, even if it costs the LP 50 state access - which we wont have anyway, with WV and Maine being defunct.

    In states where ballot access is hard to impossible, a second thought should be made about how much money to dump into those states. I would rather have a targeted somewhat effective 35 state party than a over extended ‘50 state’ party with ghost state parties in 15 states.

  4. Trent Hill Says:

    The deal is, Timothy, that in order to EVER be a truly viable party, you need 50 states. And althogh NOW there are 15 “ghost parties”, those states having ballot access to a Libertarian listed candidate speaks well for your party, it allows people to see that you are, in fact, viable, and it spreads the word about Libertarianism.

  5. LPiberty Says:

    I appreciate Timothy West’s comments!

    And, I am very glad that Mr. Cory does not sugar coat the results of 2006. Improved credibility could go a long way.

  6. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Tim,

    You can’t get candidates elected if you’re not organized in that district.

    One of the MAJOR headaches I had as a candidate was that, in the three counties I ran in, one county had no LP organization, another had a moribund organization… and I WAS the organization in the third. I didn’t find out about events until, in many cases, after they ended. I didn’t have people putting out signs. I didn’t really have any support whatever from any level of the Libertarian Party.

    Party organization across the board needs to be improved, and improved greatly, if we’re to win elections in any number.

  7. Chris Hickman Says:

    Too bad Shane Cory is a crook like the rest of them who refuses to make Stephen Gordon be held accountable for his role in the hammer of truth scam, nor will he allow anyone to comment on the Allen Hacker/Badnarik for Congress ‘06 campaign spending scandal.

    The Libertarian Party is a joke, and I’m sad to say that because I was a member for over 6 years I believe, and a Liberty Pledger for much of that time.

  8. George Phillies Says:

    Kris Overstreet is right: We need strong party organization at every level. That, indeed, is a core theme of my campaign. I welcome all your supports.

    And for open libertarian discussion, you are all welcome at Liberty for America http://www.LibertyForAmerica.NET .

  9. Andy Says:

    “Too bad Shane Cory is a crook like the rest of them who refuses to make Stephen Gordon be held accountable for his role in the hammer of truth scam,”

    How is Shane Cory a crook? What Stephen Gordon Hammer Of Truth scam are you talking about?

  10. Steve Trinward Says:

    At the risk of getting more mud on the tracks, I have to point out three things:

    1) The concern about Bob Barr is not that he does not agree with every issue in the LP Platform, but that his prior record, both in Congress and after, has been marked with taking distinctly Authoritarian stances on most issues (privacy and gun rights being the notable exceptions). If his basic attitudes about “how it should be” have opened to embrace liberty rather than tyranny, this should be made known widely; if he still thinks that the War on Drugs is not necessary but correct policy, the LP made a huge error,

    2) Tim is correct that the Ballot Access issue is crucial, and should be focused on supporting parties with viable candidates, not a blanket over the whole 50-state apparatus to cover nearly impossible ballot restrictions, even in states where the LP is nothing but a whisper. Where state LPs have fostered serious campaigns, with experienced candidates (the kind who’ve already run or are running now—at local levels, in non-partisan races (or as Rs or Ds?), built followings in the process, and now can rely on THOSE people to provide their main support-base and get out the vote!) and campaign-workers … there is where there is at least some purpose in helping out—BUT NOT DOING IT FOR THEM!

    3) The biggest error the LNC and LPHQ have made in the last two-plus years is not using the mechanisms they received from the previous LNC: most specifically, the project model for self-funding projects operating under the LP fundraising umbrella. The model was a valid one: raise money using LPHQ as a conduit (mostly for legal reasons); focus on a specific intention and make that clear in the appeals; and deliver 10% off the top of each dollar brought in DIRECTLY to the overhead bottom-line at National. Unfortunately, the perfect project to test this out on, Ballot Access, was subverted and de facto lumped into general funds (think Social Security, and every other government program that began with sequestered funds), as the “project chair” chose to ignore the guidelines and boundaries, and merely “spent the rent” (in a couple of states that were once among our most vital affiliates, but even threw away their own hard-earned ballot status in recent times) meeting draconian requirement$ where returns were barely noticeable in Nov. 2004.

    I’ve said enough for now … - Steve

  11. Timothy West Says:

    I didn’t really have any support whatever from any level of the Libertarian Party.

    neither did I in 2000, despite being over 80 REGISTERED libs in the district I ran in - 2 fund raising letters brought in nothing. The only support I got was from dear ol Mom and our Governors Candidate in 2000 who came 400 miles to co campaign with me at our county fair where I had a tent set up.

    which comes first, chicken or egg? do you spend huge money on ballot access for states that dont have support at the practical level, or do you get access hoping flowers will grow?

    I am suggesting the process be studied for the best cost to benefit ratio for the party, and given my opinion, which may not be correct.

  12. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Shane says “If we do anything aside from moving forward with our mission statement, we are fools for doing so.”

    What mission statement is he referring to?

  13. Richard Winger Says:

    First, praise to Austin for getting and posting the Shane interview. As to the comments, too many people assume the ballot access laws can’t be changed. They can be. There is no such thing as a ballot access law that absolutely can’t be changed. Minor parties or independent candidates have court cases on ballot access pending now in Alabama, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

  14. Mike N. Says:

    Excellent interview!

    It makes me proud to have fine folks like Shane Cory and Stephen Gordon at headquarters. I have seen a lot of excellent improvements recently… I used to bitch about the website, but it was fixed. I used to bitch that national did nothing to support candidates etc, and they launched things like the leadership school and candidate tracker. I am left with very little to bitch about. :)

  15. Mike N. Says:

    Shane Cory - I just made a donation. Keep up the good work.

  16. Mike N. Says:

    Vote for T. Lee Horne for LA governor:

    http://conservativecajun.blogspot.com/2007/01/who-would-you-support-for-louisiana.html

  17. torah Says:

    I’m going to agree 100% with Mike Nelson. Shane Cory is a great asset to the national LP. He is very well spoken; tell me again, where was he hired from? He sounds very polished. Based off of this interview alone, I might go ahead and renew my membership to LP News and become a Libertarian again.

  18. matt Says:

    If Shane is right and the LP learned so much during the 06 campaign, the the Horne for Governor campaign should get incredible support. I hope so. I’ll know what to think of this interview after that election, I guess.

  19. Timothy West Says:

    The single greatest shift in the LP is the greater acceptance by the rank and file that the LP has got to be a political party and do nothing but politics, and thats the only mission in life it can properly play.

    Shane is a excellent ED and SG is a excellent communications/political jack of all trades.

    We certainly do NEED party structures at all levels, but since we know we don’t have that in place, we have to make the loudest noise where we already have halfway decent support base and expand outward from those bases.

    The LP’s single greatest problem is that it does not have the support base in people, money, and media to have district level orgs in every state. It will take years to achieve this, even given good fortunes and more acceptance as to what makes a libertarian a libertarian in the first place.

  20. Eric Dondero Says:

    Hammer of Truth scam? What’s that all about? First time I’ve ever heard there was any scam at HoT.

    We at MainstreamLibertarian.com gave Stephen Gordon an Award for Top Ten Libertarian Activist of the Year. His efforts on behalf of the Bob Smither campaign were phenomenal. He’s a first class Libertarian Party activist.

    And Shane is a fabulous ED. One of the best the LP has ever had. And I say this as a Republican.

  21. Eric L Says:

    I will echo the comments of many who congratulated Shane Cory and the LNC crew on their professionalism. Clearly, they have accepted the fact that we’re a small party with a porous organization/support base and are looking to slowly strengthen it to improve electoral success.

    The only way to ensure our failure is in not ever running candidates for office. That stands at the presidential level all the way down to soil and water boards. We simply should be everywhere on the partisan ballot to promote exposure and generate excitement within the local/state affiliates.

    Unfortunately, we need to focus our energies at every level and can’t really pick and choose. Running candidates at every level creates synergy and legitimizes candidates both at the top and bottom of the ballot. Granted, our victories will probably come at the local/state level but press and coverage is often driven by top of ticket candidates.

    Here in Michigan, I believe running a governor for the first time in years helped all our candidates even though the candidate did not poll great. Clearly, those elected in Indiana were helped by a good sec. of state run. In Texas, running lots of candidates seemed to have a positive effect on their support. Of course it’s impossible to prove causation but it makes sense that the more people you run at every level, the more successful you’ll be.

  22. Timothy West Says:

    but it makes sense that the more people you run at every level, the more successful you’ll be.

    not true. this is the paper candidate effect and that what he party HAS been doing for years. It’s not had much success. Simply having candidates on the ballot just to be there in areas where the LP has no practical support base is wasteful. It’s bottom up time. In 10 years, the LP might have those district level orgs - and thats what it should have been doing since it was founded - but thats all history.

    If the history didnt work out, the party should not repeat it.

  23. George Phillies Says:

    “15 ghost state parties”

    Trent,
    We don’t have a simple scheme for offline contact here, but which state parties were you referring to? (I can name several, but 15 is a lot.) Please contact.
    George

    phillies at 4liberty.NET
    508 754 1859

  24. NewFederalist Says:

    Great interview. Thanks TPW for being a place where this sort of information can be found. It would be interesting to see similar interviews with the Greens and the Constitution Party especially if they would be as candid about what is working and what is not.

  25. [email protected] Says:

    Nice interview. One quibble.

    “We are not a think tank, lobbying firm, educational organization, book club or debate society,” says Shane. “We are not Jack’s inflamed Church of Libertarianism. We are a political party. If we do anything aside from moving forward with our mission statement, we are fools for doing so. ... We have too few resources to apply to anything but getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight.”

    As Susan Hogarth asks, what mission statement is Shane referring to? The Libertarian Party’s mission statement heavily emphasizes running candidates, but it also implies, and in at least one case specifically delineates, other party missions than simply “getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight.”

    The executive director is neither empowered to unilaterally change the LP’s mission statement nor acting legitimately in any departure from pursuing it in its entirety.

    Like Shane, I believe that the LP should be a political party—or at least decide what the hell it wants to be, and be something. However, I also understand that political parties have to do more than “getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight.” Their constituent parts do, in fact, often include, directly or indirectly, “think tanks, lobbying firms, educational organizations, book clubs and debate societies.”

    If the entire rationale of a political party was “getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight,” then the GOP and Dems wouldn’t have had to have primary debates and conventions in 2000. They could have just flipped coins to decide whether to nominate George W. Bush and Al Gore or John McCain and Al Sharpton. It certainly would have been less messy and it would have saved them a lot of money. All those other parts, whether or not they are officially part of the party apparatus, are in fact parts of a party, because they give a party its logic/ideology, its support base and its mechanisms for choosing candidates, etc. They are absolutely as much part of a party as “getting candidates, getting them on the ballot and putting up a good fight.”

    Then again, maybe it’s not confusion over the role of the LP which drove Shane’s misstatement, but rather the easy conflation, which many of us frequently fall victim to, of LPHQ/the LNC with the LP. LPHQ and the LNC are also parts of the party … but they are just parts of the party. They aren’t the party en toto.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  26. Meg Says:

    I think he’s referring to the scam where almost a year ago, Hammer of Truth solicited over $10,000 donations for a site, LibertyMix.com, which has yet to materialize.

    It could also be the scam where Michael Badnarik wrote a letter urging people to donate cash to that same site, and later claimed on Hammer of Truth that he’d never even HEARD of it.

    And there is a new scam: Banning someone from LP.org for having the nerve to ask their Communications Director, one of the figures involved with the Hammer of Truth scam, any questions about it.

    Hickman, keep fighting the good fight!

  27. matt Says:

    It would be interesting to see similar interviews with the Greens and the Constitution Party especially if they would be as candid about what is working and what is not.
    ===========================
    I don’t think doing such an interview would serve the CP’s interests. The goal of Cory’s candor is to defuse anger at LP electoral inefectiveness in 06. From the sound of it, the CP members are ok with electoral inefectiveness but angry at each other. That can’t be fixed in a single interview. Of course an interview or two would be interesting.

  28. George Phillies Says:

    Tom is completely correct on what the LP should be doing. If the LNC Headquarters does not want to be a part of that effort, as witness their refusal to supply a list of Libertarian 2006 candidates and contact information, and taking the information down from their web site, that is a problem for the rest of us.

    Namely, we had to spend several hours recovering that information from someplace else.

    For an alternative point of view consistent with the party’s actual mission statement on what the libertarian Party should be doing, see my book Stand Up for Liberty! available from Third Millenium http://www.3mpub.com/phillies . In particular, I explain what the LP should be doing to develop think tanks, affinity groups etc as a necessary part of getting candidates elected.

    George

  29. George Whitfield Says:

    I am impressed with Shane Cory’s candor and sincerity. I am encouraged about the LP’s effectiveness in 2007 and beyond.

  30. Kris Overstreet Says:

    Tim: how many people will be willing to support a party with no ballot access and no candidates where they live?

  31. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    I know it is a footbal weekend, but I couldn’t wait.
    Shane Cory says “We are not a think tank, lobbying firm, educational organization, book club or debate society.
    We are not Jack’s inflamed Church of Libertarianism. We are a political party.”

    Okay so what does that entail? Does the LPUS put out a newspaper, develop literature, keep an up to date website? Does it put on forums with Libertarian candidates, or put out news releases? Does it raise money for candidates?

    Having been a candidate, recruited candidates, worked on campaigns, been a party officer and flunky I would like to know what it was I suppossed to be doing?

    I have been getting this for years from others, “we are a party, we don’t do that”. Well someone needs to nail this jell-o donw and tell me what it is we do do.

    Personally I thought this was some kind of guerilla warfare and we used everything we could to get the job done, but what the hell do I know. Obviously not much.
    MHW

  32. Timothy West Says:

    very few, of course. But there’s no fix thats easy if you decide that you now have to do politics instead of recruit “people like you”.

    Persue the ballot access issue thru legal means, and when we win, maybe we move greater resources into that state. But I don’t believe having ballot access makes people vote libertarian just because there’s a LP candidate that suddenly appears.

    its the chicken and egg. I choose the egg. The chicken was cooked in 1971, when Nolan put politics at the rock bottom of the list for things to consider. Now in 2007 that has to be accounted for by the fact that in most of the country the LP has no infrastructure at the local level.

    i may very well be wrong about this. But I haven’t been shown that 50 state access transfers into success for the party. I’d rather spend that money on state level party building where access is present or easy to get.

    There’s a middle ground between resources used to get something you need and used to get something you want. Like I aid, me and Bill dont agree on the issue, and he knows more about it than I do. I’d like some input from Richard Winger who knows more about the subject than I ever will.

    All I’m saying is that scarce LP resources need to be targeted - and past LP history studied to see if doing what we’ve always done has paid off, in any area.

  33. Mike N. Says:

    All I’m saying is that scarce LP resources need to be targeted

    Bingo! Here is a good start:

    http://www.arinsime.com/home.aspx

  34. [email protected] Says:

    On ballot access, I wonder—and I’m sure Richard Winger will know—whether any presidential candidate has ever gone to court to press a constitutional claim of a requirement for a uniform, reasonable standard of ballot access for all states under the “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government” clause (Article 4 of the Constitution).

    I know that candidates have sued this or that state for “unduly high barriers,” but it would be interesting to see a candidate simply go to court versus EVERY state, all at once, that has barriers beyond pro forma identification requirements.

    The US didn’t use government-printed ballots (“the Australian ballot”) until the late 19th century, so “ballot access” wasn’t a concern—any party was free do distribute its own ballots, or encourage voters to write their candidates’ names on hand-written ballots, etc.

    It seems to me that in changing to the “Australian ballot,” state governments incurred an obligation pursuant to “a republican form of government” to ensure that candidates don’t face undue barriers beyond what they faced before that change.

    Such a suit would probably not cost as much as getting ballot access for one party for one election in, say, Ohio, and presumably the candidate could still be working on getting over those barriers in the “easy” states at least, even while suing to tear them down.

    Tom Knapp

  35. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I’m not an expert by any means… but seeing how Presidential elections are really just 50 state-wide elections to choose the electoral college, I would think the states have the right to run them however they wish to.

  36. George Phillies Says:

    I believe Tom is refering to a part of the Constitution that is, unusually, assigned to Congress to enforce and rpotect.

  37. Trent Hill Says:

    George Phillies,

    first of all, an honor to meet you. I hear your an honorable Libertarian, and for that a salute you. I actually wasn’t trying to name out the “15 ghost parties”, someone had mentioned to me that there were “10-15 ghost parties” at the State level in the Libertarian party. I was using this as a credential for cooperation between our two parties.

    Matt,

    The CP is not happy with electoral failure, and have in fact experienced our first real taste of success (Rick Jore, Montana; Stufflebeam,Indiana).
    I am not mad at anyone who left our party. The more competition the better. They seemed to be more Religiously driven, where as the rest of us are more Politically driven. We want to change things through an acceptable avenue. The arguement was over Rape exceptions on Abortion. The fact is, a VERY low percentage of Abortions are performed because the mother is a rape victim. Until we get to the river, I don’t see a point in putting on my swim-trunks. Both the No Exceptionists and the Rape Exceptions/State Right’s Supporters were trying to eliminate 99% of abortions.
    Furthermore, I think there are better solutions for this than simply leaving the party. Some people left a party they had been working to build for the past 14 years. To do what? Help raise another party that is smaller, younger, more fringe, and less organized. And furthermore, somewhere down the road,that same party will have the same conflict.
    Im not mad, I just think their strategy was pointless.

  38. Executive Detractor Says:

    Testing. 123 testing.

  39. Eric Dondero Says:

    George, I can name a few of those State Parties that he might be referring too. A few weeks ago, I called up some State LP Chairs to find out if there were any elected Libertarian Party members holding public office in their respective States. Many of the State Chairs responded to me, essentially, “hell, we don’t even have hardly a State Party here, let alone elected officials.

    Everyone I spoke too was real pleasant and helpful, but it was clear to me that their State Party was down to very low levels: North Dakota, Mississippi, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Carolina, and though I didn’t speak to anyone in this State, your neighbors up in Maine, as well.

    I’d also add, that IMHO, at this point in the LP’s history, if a State Party does not have a single elected official in the entire State, even a Soil & Water Board member or Public Weigher or appointed County Parks & Rec Board member, that State Party is in seriously bad shape.

    I mean, c’mon, how hard is it to get someone appointed to a local public office. If they can’t even do that, I’d say the monikor of “paper only” State Party fits pretty well. There are about 10 to 12 states without any elected/appointed Libertarians.

    For a full List of Elected Libertarians: www.mainstreamlibertarian.com

  40. Timothy West Says:

    for clarity, I’m the one that said 15 ghost parties, but it was off the cuff. We do have a fair number of them since UMP welfare was stopped, but I don’t know the exact amount. The ending of UMP and start of zero dues allows the party to easily find out where the activity really is or is not. The LP’s been able to claim 50 states thru ballot access action, but IMO that’s misleading. How many of your state affiliates are active and working? - is a far better judge of the party’s real health.

  41. Eric Sundwall Says:

    Any shift to a third party by the average voter is a result of frustration because the two heavies have failed them in some fundamental way. Otherwise they are perfectly fine that Tues. morning picking their most closely associated Donkey or Elephant. Activists and party faithful are driven by ideology and passion. The inception of parties in the new republic was driven by presidential electoral politics. This is history, political science and reality.

    If LNC resources were shifted to support a specific arena instead of a broad based effort, it’s failure would be imminent. It’s budget is a bad day for Tiger Woods. It is able to maintain a national office and play some electoral games. Some people are inspired by underdogs and hope. It does not mean that they will win or are the best solution. If a local affiliate enjoys decent ballot access, why should one stuck with insurmountable barriers be ignored and discarded ? Indeed the fight should be brought there if anywhere. That is the purpose of a ‘National’ party.

    The expectation that a third party can win in a single plurality system is indeed delusional. Facts and reality simply do not conform to that hope. That assertion should be as resolute as any accusation of the ‘debate society’ vilification. It does not mean that opportunity should be spurned or that a fight is not worthwhile… While the role is not official or predetermined, the reality is that third parties exist to drive issues. Somebody has to stand up against wars, drug prohibition and other areas of social progress or human freedom. Quite simply if you are not tough enough to fight knowing you will only lose, you should go find a nice Republican or Democratic club. At least they’ll give you the pretense you are part of a ‘winning’ team.

  42. Stephen Gordon Says:

    My old buddy Tom Knapp raised a good issue. In what activities, aside from direct electoral activities should the LP be engaged?

    Since we call ourselves a political party, to not attempt “a good fight” seems tantamount to fraud. If we are telling our potential supporters (especially from outside the party) that we want their votes, time and dollars, it’s implied that we are “in it to win it” and if our motivation isn’t electoral success, then we’ve done them a disservice.

    However, many activities which don’t immediately appear to be election related, if fact, are. As an example, developing state affiliates certainly helps election results and is mentioned in the Purposes Section of the LP Bylaws.

    Tom uses Shane’s quote about “think tanks, lobbying firms, educational organizations, book clubs and debate societies.” Unless we change our corporate type to a 501C3/C4, how are we to become one of these type organizations? And why would we wish to compete with already established and effective organizations such as IJ, Reason, Cato or von Mises?

    We’ve got our unique organizational structure specifically because we are a political party. We also have a unique mission, which is to elect Libertarians to public office.

    This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t become involved in educational activities. Educational activities are a vital part of party building and electing candidates. I think we should lobby more (joining EFF, ACLU, et. al. in the recent formal public comment to Homeland Security is a start) than we do; this also helps in electing candidates and party building. We aren’t a think tank, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold panels at events or issue policy statements from time to time. We aren’t a book club, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore books—as a matter of fact, I’ve used recent three books (written by Richard Viguerie, John Dean and Ryan Sager, Joe Trippi) often in recent public appearances. We obviously hold debates, with our presidential candidates serving as the primary example. But this does not make us a debating society.

    My feeling is that activities such as the examples above are important tools (but so are databases, television commercials, and raising a lot of money) for any political party, but not the primary mission.

    It is my strong belief that if we are to call ourselves a political party, then our primary focus should be winning elections (and party building—these go hand in hand). If we are to have any other primary function, then we should strip the word “Party” from our name, as well as modify our slogan to “The Organization of Principle.” To do anything less would be less than honest.

  43. Stephen Gordon Says:

    George,

    I’m not sure I understand what you are talking about with respect to candidate lists. Candidate Tracker was on the website and listed 2006 candidates (along with website links and other data we collected). We took it down because the 2006 elections are now over. We now have 2007 candidates on the front page. Considering that it is now 2007, this seems appropriate.

    With respect to affinity (and related) groups, I generally agree with you. Like the other issues I mentioned above, they are important tools and I work closely with some and even serve on the boards of some others. But they aren’t our primary objective, merely a tool to help us meet that primary objective.

  44. Rocky Says:

    Tom Knapp says: “All those other parts, whether or not they are officially part of the party apparatus, are in fact parts of a party, because they give a party its logic/ideology, ”

    Shane Cory says: “I’m sorry, ideology plays no role in the managerial duties of an LNC member.”

    From the way the LP is (has been) going, it looks like Shane Cory is winning the argument over ideology.

  45. paulie cannoli Says:

    Steve

    I’m not sure I understand what you are talking about with respect to candidate lists. Candidate Tracker was on the website and listed 2006 candidates (along with website links and other data we collected). We took it down because the 2006 elections are now over. We now have 2007 candidates on the front page. Considering that it is now 2007, this seems appropriate.

    I gather that he meant that it would be useful if the 2006 candidates were still listed somewhere on the site, so that people interested in helping to build the party could contact them. I seem to recall that in past years, the website did contain more comprehensive candidate information ahead of time as well as after the fact.

  46. paulie cannoli Says:

    Tim

    ballot access needs to be studied from a cost/benefit analysis. Dumping absurd amounts of money into getting states on the ballot that wind up voting 1~2% for our candidates is just dumb. Me and Bill don’t agree on this of course, but I would rather focus limited resources on States where LP support is stronger as a natural result. I’d rather hit Indiana and Texas hard in addition to other states, even if it costs the LP 50 state access - which we wont have anyway, with WV and Maine being defunct.

    In states where ballot access is hard to impossible, a second thought should be made about how much money to dump into those states. I would rather have a targeted somewhat effective 35 state party than a over extended ‘50 state’ party with ghost state parties in 15 states.

    Done correctly, ballot access could be a lot more effective at party building.

    As we have done ballot access the whole time I have done it (1998-present) the only incentive is to get the signatures, quickly, and (on many campaigns) to concentrate on raw numbers rather than quality.

    In 2000, when the party had a lot of money, most of the people collecting signatures that I met on the road were non-libertarian, mercenary petitioners, many from the Crackhead-American community.

    In 2004/5/6, with the party relative less well financially endowed, an increasing percentage of the people I have seen working on LP ballot access are actually libertarian activists. Nevertheless, the incentives of the job make any party outreach we do go against our financial interests.

    Ballot access is forced on us by the states, but it can be turned into an opportunity. We are the only LP contractors or employees who spend much of our work time in the field. The rest are all mostly office workers, and most of their job consists of internal administrative tasks. Steve Gordon is somewhat of an exception, since he does a lot of media outreach.

    What if the incentives were different?

    If ballot access were part of a larger “field rep” position, contractors for this position - essentially, salesmen for the LP - would be paid not just for qualifying states for the ballot, but for a range of other party building activities, for example:

    Starting or re-starting state parties.

    From there: county parties; city and town parties; neighborhood and precinct parties as the higher levels of organization are filled.

    Starting and activating campus clubs.

    Giving intro speeches at civic clubs, colleges, high schools, etc.

    Being quoted in the media and publishing Letters to the Editor.

    Generating membership inquiries and new members.

    Persuading members to run for office.

    Setting up booths at farmers markets, gun shows, peace rallies, street fairs, etc.

    Organizing protests and joining coalitions to organize protests.

    Exactly which activities field reps would perform is debatable, as are the measurability of some of these activities, but this is just a general idea.

    I presented it to previous LP HQ staff and LNC incarnation and it went nowhere, but I still believe that if done this way, it is entirely conceivable that we could turn ballot access from being somewhat of a treadmill into being a major catalyst for party-building.

    The answer should not be to abandon ballot access in the more difficult states. It should be to take the challenge head on and turn it into an opportunity for growth.

  47. paulie cannoli Says:

    Eric L

    Running candidates at every level creates synergy and legitimizes candidates both at the top and bottom of the ballot. Granted, our victories will probably come at the local/state level but press and coverage is often driven by top of ticket candidates.

    I agree.

  48. paulie cannoli Says:

    i may very well be wrong about this. But I haven’t been shown that 50 state access transfers into success for the party. I’d rather spend that money on state level party building where access is present or easy to get.

    Why is it either/or? Why not combine the two?

  49. paulie cannoli Says:

    Other comments that make sense include Eric Sundwall

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2007/01/05/our-interview-with-shane-cory-2/#comment-89861

    and

    Michael H. Wilson

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2007/01/05/our-interview-with-shane-cory-2/#comment-89187

  50. paulie cannoli Says:

    TPW: The Texas CD-10 race saw Michael Badnarik spend a half-million dollars to achieve only 4% of the vote. This result seems more in line with “paper” candidates who don’t even campaign. Personally, what do you think went wrong in that race?

    Cory: That’s the half-million dollar question. Badnarik’s campaign spent $450k so far and got 4.3% of the vote. . . about $59 per vote. It’s clear something went wrong in this race. Something went wrong in more than 600 other LP races this year as well.

    Of course this particular campaign is unique in the amount of money raised and how it was spent. I think it should be looked into so that we can figure out what went wrong and how we should avoid it in the future. When he’s ready, I’m sure Michael will sit down at some point down the road and help construct an accurate post-mortem on the campaign. A post-mortem of the campaign for historical purposes would be a benefit to the LP. This is not to say that we need a new report about what’s wrong with the LP and how we should save it (that’s a four word report for me . . . Less Talk, More Work).

    Find the search box on TPW, enter “Allen Hacker” and read the last half-dozen posts and comments. What went wrong with the Badnarik campaign is not exactly a secret.

  51. Stephen Gordon Says:

    Paul,

    You (or George) can simply contact Sean Haugh ([email protected]) in order to get such list information.

  52. Phil Sawyer Says:

    If the Libertarian Party is really serious about growing (and not ending up in “the dust bin of history”), it will need to move beyond its support for capitalism. Otherwise, it will go down - just like the Democratic and Republican Parties are eventually going to go down (the GOP will be a minor-sized organization by 2012, and misery does love company).

    Member: CUIP; GPUS; Unity08

  53. paulie cannoli Says:

    Steve:

    I’m not privy to whether George Phillies tried to contact HQ and was not told where to get the list info, or whether he merely assumed it was unavailable because it was removed from the public website.

    His comments make it sound as though he tried to obtain the information but was told no - but I have no knowledge of this beyond what he wrote here.

    If the LNC Headquarters does not want to be a part of that effort, as witness their refusal to supply a list of Libertarian 2006 candidates and contact information, and taking the information down from their web site, that is a problem for the rest of us.

    Since he mentions “refusal to supply a list of candidates” and “taking it down from the website” separately, I am assuming this means two separate actions - but of course, I could be wrong.

    Thanks for the info on where the info can be located for future reference.

    Perhaps it would save George and anyone else interested in that particular question some time, agravation and effort if next to the CT there was a
    notice such as For information about our past candidates for office, contact….

  54. paulie cannoli Says:

    Phil

    If the Libertarian Party is really serious about growing (and not ending up in “the dust bin of history”), it will need to move beyond its support for capitalism. Otherwise, it will go down - just like the Democratic and Republican Parties are eventually going to go down (the GOP will be a minor-sized organization by 2012, and misery does love company).

    I would say that this would depend on what definition of capitalism you are using. See “anti-concepts and the package deal” here:

    http://mises.org/story/2099#6

    and

    “Against big business”

    http://mises.org/story/2099#4

    For a more complete understanding, see the whole article:

    Rothbard’s “Left and Right”: Forty Years Later
    By Roderick T. Long
    http://mises.org/story/2099

    You can also listen
    http://mises.org/multimedia/mp3/asc2006/asc06-Long.mp3

  55. George Phillies Says:

    Dear Steve,

    Well, no. My campaign specifically requested that we be supplied the list information you are discussing. Quite separately, Seth Cohn asked for the same information, so that the NHLA could invite former Libertarian candidates to visit NH and attend a Gorman campaign school. The requests went to Sean Haugh, who was I understand managing the site. Sean, who is a very highly ethical person, noted that the data was a work product paid for by the LNC and that he would need to ask permission from the National Director. He then indicated—I may have saved the emails in question—that he had asked, and had been told not to release the information to either of us.

    Then the data was noted to be gone from the site.

    There could well at some date in the near future be an announcement “For information about our past candidates for office, contact…” and as soon as my campaign finishes assembling the information I will make it clear who on my staff Liberttarians with legitimate projects can contact.

    George Phillies
    http://www.phillies2008.com

  56. George Phillies Says:

    And for those of you who like to fine details, since I oversimplified in the prior message (with thanks to Seth Cohn for more detailed support):

    At the start, Seth Cohn asked

    “Sean, can you provide a contact list (emails are good, snail mails are also good, both is best) of those who ran?”

    and Sean Haugh answered entirely correctly

    “I don’t know that I am at liberty to provide you with that info
    since my work product is property of the LNC. I will ask Shane about this when I see him tomorrow.” Sean then informed Seth “You may have already gotten an answer from Steve, but I asked Shane about this when I was in DC and he said no.”

    At about this point Seth and I compared notes and realized that I was looking for the same data that he was, for a project he was not involved in. He was asking for the data for his project, not mine, which he did not know about. It did not occur to me to bother asking National for the data, since as far as I knew National had data for about 20 candidates (and at some point I had asked someone, and unless I misunderstood the National list of LP candidates was very short).

  57. paulie cannoli Says:

    George:

    The wayback machine might also be of some service in the future.

    http:///web/*/lp.org

    However, as of right now it only goes up to 2006.08.23

  58. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Paul goes in for a slam dunk: “Done correctly, ballot access could be a lot more effective at party building”.

    Hell yes!

    I’m a big proponent of billboards. They are cheap and postioned correctly very effective.

    One thing I have always wanted us to do was to buy biilboards at the state line of tough ballot access states and let drivers know they are entering a restricted zone using sarcasm to get the word out to the public that their choices are limited.
    Forty thousand in advance public relations might be able to turn some screws and save a bunch of time and money in the long run.
    MHW

  59. Michael H. Wilson Says:

    Stephen let me offer some thanks for dropping in and visiting with us and of course hearing what we think.

    From my perspective this isn’t as hard as we think, but coming to a consensus as to what should be done, in what order and by whom gets in our way.

    I hope that without being rude, but maybe blunt at times, we can offer some ideas.

    Thanks,
    MHW

  60. torah Says:

    All this talk is nice, but you folks are missing the boat completely.

    You need a grassroots organization. Door-walking. Block-walking. Precinct saturation.

    Not saying letters to the editors are bad, but ultimately you need a network. A machine. Stop focusing on just recruiting candidates. Build the fortress first, then man the battle stations with the armed guards and generals.

    There’s no support system in place for downtimes; the Democrats host weekly coffee and breakfast meetings every week down here near Dallas. The Republicans are always doing some visible thing in the community.

    Grassroots activism is where it’s at.

  61. Carl Says:

    50 state ballot access is a waste of effort unless you have a qualified celebrity presidential candidate to make use of it. Otherwise, the LP would be better off trying to be strong SOMEWHERE. Throughout its history, the LP has adopted a strategy of trying to attain some partial goal everywhere (50 state ballot access, filling candidate slates, having a county affiliate in every county, etc.) as opposed to getting the complete package somewhere (have one kick-ass county affiliate capable of supporting a winning candidate, or a cluster of kick-ass county affiliates capable of supporting a winning state house candidate).

    McDonalds started of as ONE very successful hamburger joint. Just one. After this business model was perfected, the model was replicated.

    Pauli: you are dead on correct about the way the LP does ballot access. Trying to get signatures from people who don’t actually support the party is not only wasteful, it is extremely dishonest.

    And frankly, I don’t think it is that much more work to do it right. I actually did a small experiment at the Fairfax County VA fair a few years ago. On Saturday, the petitioners did things the usual way, and at the end of the day were burned out and bummed. On Sunday, I set out issue signs explaining what the party was about in the area that the petitioning was done. Sunday was the better day.

    This is insufficient data to prove my point, but is an experiment worth trying again.

  62. Eric L Says:

    Again, I think we waste too much time trying to determine the perfect attack strategy with our limited resources. I realize we don’t have legions of volunteers with time and money to spare so rational choices need to be made. However, determining ‘one best’ strategy is impossible because of the nature of politics.

    As a local chair, it’s tough getting enough people ready to create a base organization if no one in your community has ever heard of a Libertarian because most exposure comes in the ballot box or at election time only.

    Clearly, continuing to run paper candidates year after year will never accomplish anything. But running lots of paper candidates and then a few active races (more every cycle) can create the necessary momentum.

    As for Mike N.’s contention that we should support only state races and winnable local races - I think it’s a whole lot harder than you think. Even predicting who the top 3 will be on the ballot in the Republican primary in New Jersey is hard enough. Trying to find a good state level candidate to support in Utah while I’m in Michigan would be difficult. I like the idea of the candidate tracker to try and help but you can see what sort of difficulties there are in funding campaigns when you have no personal knowledge of the candidate/team (Badnarik campaign).

  63. Roscoe Says:

    Nolan and the gang were young and optimistic. Thirty five years later, it is obvious that 3rd party politics - in the form of actually winning major offices - is futile. Even if a groundswell of libertarian voting materialized,
    don’t you think one or both of the major parties would embrace it in order to survive? So, if one wants to continue the LP, the purpose should be
    shifted from “winning” to “influencing.” It’s probably too early for Dondero’s “join the GOP and work from within strategy.” They (Dem and
    GOP) will not sit up and take notice until LP activity, no matter how few votes it gets, keeps costing them close races.

  64. paulie cannoli Says:

    torah

    All this talk is nice, but you folks are missing the boat completely.

    You need a grassroots organization. Door-walking. Block-walking. Precinct saturation.

    Not saying letters to the editors are bad, but ultimately you need a network. A machine. Stop focusing on just recruiting candidates. Build the fortress first, then man the battle stations with the armed guards and generals.

    There’s no support system in place for downtimes; the Democrats host weekly coffee and breakfast meetings every week down here near Dallas. The Republicans are always doing some visible thing in the community.

    Grassroots activism is where it’s at.

    The LP could certainly use a lot of it.

  65. paulie cannoli Says:

    Carl

    50 state ballot access is a waste of effort unless you have a qualified celebrity presidential candidate to make use of it. Otherwise, the LP would be better off trying to be strong SOMEWHERE. Throughout its history, the LP has adopted a strategy of trying to attain some partial goal everywhere (50 state ballot access, filling candidate slates, having a county affiliate in every county, etc.) as opposed to getting the complete package somewhere (have one kick-ass county affiliate capable of supporting a winning candidate, or a cluster of kick-ass county affiliates capable of supporting a winning state house candidate).

    But what if 50 state ballot access adds to the goal rather than taking away from it? You never know where the next activist leader capable of starting this kick-ass county affiliate will be from. Maybe somewhere where the state forces us to talk to the public through oppressive ballot access laws?

    I say do both. Build a kick-ass county affiliate, sure, but one of its activities can be to help neighboring counties get set up too.

    Being organized statewide and nationally - even in a more minimal way - will help a kick-ass county affiliate in a number of ways, including media.

    Eric L has it right

    http://thirdpartywatch.com/2007/01/05/our-interview-with-shane-cory-2/#comment-90440

    brought to you by the letter E

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E

  66. Susan Hogarth Says:

    Shane says “If we do anything aside from moving forward with our mission statement, we are fools for doing so.”

    What mission statement is he referring to? I have asked him this by email (as he had referenced a ‘mission statement’ earlier in a release sent to the Party’s email list), but have recieved no answer. Tom Knapp was nice enough to expand on my question, and Stephen Gordon replied with a lot of talk, but no real answer to that specific question.

    So let me rephrase, and hope for a straighforward answer:

    What mission statement are those at the LP headquarters working under? The only Party mission statment I know exists in the bylaws, as Tom Knapp pointed out, and as I explain in more detail here:

    http://www.colliething.com/2007/01/lp-is-not-just-about-getting-people.html

  67. [email protected] Says:

    Steve Gordon writes:

    “We’ve got our unique organizational structure specifically because we are a political party. We also have a unique mission, which is to elect Libertarians to public office.”

    Incorrect. Our mission is clearly defined in our bylaws as “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office” ... AND SEVERAL OTHER THINGS.

    If you (or Shane) wish to make the argument that given the LP’s current limited resources it is only possible/realistic to focus on one part of the party’s mission statement, that’s a subject worth delving into.

    Or, if anyone wants to argue that the next convention should ditch several goals and narrow the mission statement down to the single goal of “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office,” that’s not beyond the pale of reasonable argument.

    But pretending that the party’s mission statement includes only one mission (“elect[ing] Libertarians to public office”), when in fact it includes several, is just a non-starter. It’s verifiably false, and therefore it should be neither asserted nor implied by party staff.

    “Tom uses Shane’s quote about ‘think tanks, lobbying firms, educational organizations, book clubs and debate societies.’ Unless we change our corporate type to a 501C3/C4, how are we to become one of these type organizations? And why would we wish to compete with already established and effective organizations such as IJ, Reason, Cato or von Mises?”

    None of the aforementioned organizations are either formally or tacitly affiliated with the LP. The closest one would be Cato, and the LP’s membership dropped a nuclear bomb on what they perceived as a factional dominance by Cato’s principals in 1983.

    On the other hand AEI, MoveOn, the Heritage Foundation, People for the American Way, et al, make no secret of the fact that they are creations of, and/or affiliated with, the Republican and Democratic Parties. The LP needs its own such affiliated such organizations and efforts, whether that affiliation is formal or informal. Creating them is a two-way street, but make no mistake about it—the LP lies at one end of that street and has to play an active role in the traffic on it. In fact, while it may have been necessary, the distance that the “Willis Affair” created between the LP and Downsize DC is probably a negative, not a positive.

    For a number of years, the LP did some pretty good work in issues politics on the web versus “Know Your Customer” and other government boondoggles and bad ideas. Other groups quickly closed the gap and passed us, but that doesn’t mean that kind of stuff isn’t fully as much a part of the LP’s mission as “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office.”

    Elections take place in a particular context. Concentrating exclusively on “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office” and nothing else is the equivalent of building a pig farm or a pork products factory … in Saudi Arabia.

    In order for the LP to “elect Libertarians to public office,” the LP —or someone—has to do more than “get candidates, get them on the ballot and put up a good fight.” The other parts of the mission statement don’t just go beyond “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office,” they are critical to “elect[ing] Libertarians to public office,” And pretending those other elements of the mission statement aren’t there will neither make them go away nor make them less essential.

    Regards,
    Tom Knapp

  68. Joseph Knight Says:

    Let me start by agreeing with Cory about one thing: “The only way that we cannot win is if we stop trying.”

    But I must disagree with such a narrow view of mission. In New Mexico we specifically allowed for broader activity in our mission statement: “The purpose of LPNM shall be to move society and public policy toward the ideals embodied in the Statement of Principles by nominating, supporting, and electing candidates for public office; by lobbying officials and governmental bodies; by engaging in educational and informational activities; by general advocacy, and by other means deemed appropriate by LPNM.”

    I support 50-state ballot access if for no other reason, because anything less is a step back and we need to move forward, not backward. But we need to do lots of outreach too, especially in odd-numbered years and in area where there are no Libertarian candidates to work for.

    And finally, we need at least one good field person - in ADDITION to a ballot access person - for organizing. I had really good luck reserecting dead state parties in the early 90s. I no longer have the temperment for field work personally but there are some folks coming up that might be good at it.

  69. Carl Says:

    Pauli: 50 state ballot access DOES detract from the goal because it is very expensive. Drop the last 5-10 states from the list and you cut the overall cost to national in half or more.

    Question: how many elected Libertarians required LP ballot access to get elected in 2006?

    Answer: 0 according to my count. I may have missed somebody, however.

    If ballot access is hard, you shouldn’t be doing it. Scarce resources should be put into becoming big enough so that getting on the ballot is easy.—BTW, this critique is not directed at Mr. Corey, it is directed at the LP as a whole. Under Shane Corey, the LP has moved more resources towards other things such as focusing on promising candidates and candidate training.
    —Useful data points: how big is the CP compared to the LP? How many people did the run for partisan office compared to the LP? Compare these ratios with the number of partisan victories in 2006.

  70. Mike N. Says:

    As for Mike N.’s contention that we should support only state races and winnable local races - I think it’s a whole lot harder than you think.

    You missed the boat. I am talking about focusing our limited resources on winning 1 or 2 (max - nationwide) state legislative races per election. It really isn’t rocket science.

    Here is a good start:

    http://www.arinsime.com/home.aspx

  71. Trent Hill Says:

    Carl,that is a good question. I hope somene who has the time to compare numbers does so,and posts them here. I’d love to see how many each party ran versus how many were elected. (Although Eric dondero need not apply. I apprecaite his efforts,but Republicans dont need to be included here,and I dont consider Guliani a Libertarian.

  72. Doug Craig Says:

    I have no proplem with 50 state ballot acces, but cost has to be taken into account.If it cost $250,000 to get the last 5 states or so that is to much.Also if we are looking at paying for the same 5-8 states not being on the ballot every four years then we need to look at that. The strong states should not have to pick up the tab every four years for the same weak states.

    Also I do think we should limit the amount of people we run for office. We should not seek out paper candidates.We should run ballot acces candidates and candidates with a goal (WIN,learn how to run campaign,out reach or increase membership etc) But I also know sometimes you have to take what you can get.Notice how well Georgia does and we run very few candidates.This mean we have more resources per candidate and higher quality candidates.

  73. paulie cannoli Says:

    Car:

    50 state ballot access can only detract from the goal if it is done the old fashioned way. 50 state ballot access as part of a larger LP sales rep/field rep position would (IMO, of course) add to the goal.

    BTW

    Pauli is here

    http://pauli.net/

    I’m here

    http://pauliecannoli.wordpress.com/

  74. paulie cannoli Says:

    Doug Craig

    I have no proplem with 50 state ballot acces, but cost has to be taken into account.If it cost $250,000 to get the last 5 states or so that is to much.Also if we are looking at paying for the same 5-8 states not being on the ballot every four years then we need to look at that. The strong states should not have to pick up the tab every four years for the same weak states.

    Hence my point: instead of looking at it from the standpoint of “what does it cost us,” ask instead: “what opportunities does this provide?” If ballot access stops being about “ballot access qua ballot access” and starts being a part of organizing, campaigning, educating and all the rest simultaneously, it can provide a lot of opportunities. Of course, I predict if this happens, we might start seeing some ballot access barriers go away - the statusquopoly would probably prefer not to give us those type of incentives and/or opportunities.

    Also I do think we should limit the amount of people we run for office. We should not seek out paper candidates.We should run ballot acces candidates and candidates with a goal (WIN,learn how to run campaign,out reach or increase membership etc) But I also know sometimes you have to take what you can get.Notice how well Georgia does and we run very few candidates.This mean we have more resources per candidate and higher quality candidates.

    Paper candidates can play an important support role, including providing ballot access. Sometimes a candidate who starts out as a paper candidate starts getting a lot more active and serious. Often, they provide the only alternative in what would otherwise be a one-person race. If they are not spending resources, they are not taking any away from more serious and active candidates. Quite the opposite, they can make an active candidate look like part of a larger slate, not a lone wolf.

    Some paper candidates learn from the experience and become active candidates next go-round.

    The whole resource-allocation question, here as with ballot access, seems to be based on static pie budgeting: IE we have a certain amount of money and now we have to decide how to spend it.

    In reality, the amount of money we have is a function of what we have done to earn it. Each donation is a separate act, based on the perceived value of the money spent. If the party is more active and earns more donations, it will get more.

    That’s why saying that we should focus on a few legislative districts is wrong in my view: if I’m living in Alabama why should I care about how well a candidate does in some legislative district in Utah? Granted, some LP members will care, but most will be a lot more likely to care about resources being spent on something which includes their district, whether it is local or national (50 state ballot access is a national issue).

    It does work the other way though - if people perceive that the LP is doing something worthwhile with their contributions at some level, it makes them more likely to contribute to all sorts of LP projects - even an active candidate who is running a promising campaign in some other part of the country.

  75. paulie cannoli Says:

    Useful data points: how big is the CP compared to the LP? How many people did the run for partisan office compared to the LP? Compare these ratios with the number of partisan victories in 2006.

    All available at Ballot Access News, along with info on Greens and smaller third parties.

  76. George Phillies Says:

    Paulie has an excellent set of points here.

    Also, there have been a long series of occasions on which the LP has concentrated large amounts of money into a single race. The outcomes have uniformly disappointed. If you think concentration works, you should be able to list the campaigns from, say, 1994 forward in which we have concentrated, and why in each case the outcome validated or did not validate your claim.

    Furthermore, advocates of concentrating our resources in one place should explain how this is supposed to be even marginally possible, given that the larger part of our resources are composed of volunteer labor that is not terribly mobile. [Astute readers will notice the project that is putting this idea into practice: It is the Free State Project.]

  77. paulie cannoli Says:

    Additionally, I’ll provide an anecdotal piece of evidence as to why 50 state ballot access might be a good idea.

    In the 1992 general election, I had decided that I was not going to vote for a presidential candidate or party which supports the drug war.

    In the primary election I supported Jerry Brown for the Democratic nomination, based on what I considered at the time a sort of Fabian generational/countercultural strategy for takeover of government power.
    For much the same reasons, I backed Hunter Thompson’s friend Gary Hart
    in 1984 and 1988.

    It’s true that Jerry Brown did not advocate any radical strategy for ending the drug war, but he did make some clear statements in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, and I believed he would go further.

    When the Democrats picked Bill Clinton for their nomination, I came to understand that the baby boomer generation coming to the helm of leadership positions was not going to produce the type of change I hoped for, and that positive change was not going to come from the Donkey Show Party.

    So, I had to take a more serious look at third parties and independents.

    Ross Perot, an advocate of house to house searches for guns and drugs, was quickly determined to be unsuitable for my purpose, and I dubbed him, Clinton and Bush Sr. collectively “the three blind mice”.

    It so happened that the Libertarian Party was the only party on my state’s ballot which supported ending the war on drugs.

    Given this fact, I was more motivated to seriously consider the LP’s case for those positions on which I disagreed with Libertarians at the time than I had been willing to before then. The arguments were now making a lot more sense to me.

    I still disagreed or hedged on some of them, but over the next couple of years, I did a lot of reading and debate to come around on those as well, as I came to see them as part of a larger whole rather than separate issue positions.

    However, by fall 1992 I was comfortable enough with being closer in my views to the LP - especially on those issues I considered important, such as ending the drug war and cutting the military-industrial complex - than to the three blind mice to vote for Marrou.

    I also went on to read through the books listed in the index of “Libertarianism in One Lesson” for further reading, and other study materials.

    None of this would have happened if the LP was not on the ballot in my state in 1992.

    Of course, those who don’t like me may say this is a good reason not to be on the ballot in too many places, but apply this same idea to a libertarian you agree with more than me, and think about how this works.

  78. Doug Craig Says:

    Paulie

    At one time I was candidate for state house some would say a paper candidate, That would not have been true. I was a candidate with no knowledge about running for office.Of course I got excited and ran a great campaign.I think we need to define paper candidate.In my mind it is some one who is going to run and do nothing but put his name on the ballot.I think some people think it is a candidate who has few resorces. A paper candidates does no interviews. I novice candidate learns this stuff during the campaign and uses this knowledge in a future race.
    At the end of the day we still have to take what we are given and work with the resources we have.

  79. paulie cannoli Says:

    For the purpose of my comments, I meant a candidate who will do nothing but put her name on the ballot, or at least very little else.

  80. Roscoe Says:

    Paulie: Don’t know where you lived in 1992, but if it cost, say, $100,000 to get the LP on the ballot there just to find you, then it wasn’t the best use of resources. That $100,000 spent elsewhere may have brought in ten or hundred activists like you. We need to do cost/benefit analysis, that’s all that’s being argued in not trying for all 50 states no matter the cost.

    A “paper candidate” gets voters used to seeing a LP candidate’s name on the ballot, even if that person never campaigned. I would venture to say most voters don’t know the first thing about many major party candidates who do campaign! If the “paper candidate” just answers the League’s questionaire, he’ll be ahead of many major candidates who “did not respond.” I wonder if anyone has ever compared the vote totals of
    “paper candidates” with those who ran themselves ragged campaigning?

  81. paulie cannoli Says:

    Roscoe:

    Tried answering your earlier post, but no matter how I tweak it my response does not want to post. Hmmmm.

    Regarding your latest:

    1) Often, the paper candidates actually do better.

    2) If you want to basically write off potential members, supporters and activists in some states, my inclination is to disagree.

    I’m an ornery sort of person and like doing stuff just because someone in an illegitimate position of power told me I can’t. If regimist stausquopolists
    tell me I can’t even vote for my party, my inclination is to say:

    “Oh yeah? Let’s see about that”

    and try to make some lemonade out of their sour assed lemons that they are handing us.

    I’ve proposed a way to do that; so hopefully one day someone will listen.

    I still contend that you just never know where you’ll find an asset that you can’t even imagine as likely being possible right now.

  82. Timothy West Says:

    its been my experience that typical LP candidates dont have much community involvement or the typical community network of social clubs/groups from which to build a support base from. I didnt in 2000, having just moved to the area. 2 years later, I had a discussion about it with a local resident who said they would have voted for me if they knew who I was.

    Translation: you don’t go to my church, you have no kids in my school, you’re not in the VFW or the Kiwanis Club, etc. and this makes you a stranger. It’s taken almost 10 years here to put down even the most basic of roots and community ties, because working full time far from home and commuting many miles to and from work each day takes it’s toll on local civic life.

    I think intangibles like this are far more important than given credit for.

    I expect a lot of the LP candidates fall into this category - they are activists, but they are not good candidates for these reasons. They’re too busy trying to survive and work and have a family life - and adding community networking and years of involvement in the social fabric of where they live is tough. And frankly many in the LP dont lend themselves to social interaction naturally, from my personal observation. Thats a hard nut to crack.

    I’d be curious to know what others think of my observations. Sometimes it’s got nothing to do with a system - it’s people and their relationships.

  83. Ryan Brennan (ThirdPartyNews.net) Says:

    Firstly, I would like to thank Third Party Watch for the Shane Cory interview.

    Secondly, I would like to notify George Phillies, and all others who may be interested, that I have on my website a list of the 2006 Libertarian candidates (there may be a few missing) along with their e-mail and phone numbers and the election results (I’m currently still not done adding all the election results).

    You can view this page here: http://users.rcn.com/k.brennan/2006LibertarianPartyCandidates.html.

  84. paulie cannoli Says:

    Ryan -
    That’s pretty impressive work!

    Tim -
    Yeah, absolutely, good point.

  85. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Tim

    You are exactly 100% right. If running for office was a college course, the kind of community involvement you described counts for 30% of the final grade. Financial resources, campaign strategy, and tactics are another 35%. Resume experience is at least 15%, another 10% for personal appearance and charisma. And the last 10% is the candidate’s positions on the issues.

    Most third party candidates wind up spending 95% of their time worrying about positions rather than qualifications, experience, appearance, and community involvement.

  86. Nigel Watt Says:

    Ballot access, I think, is something that state parties must work on individually. (LPTX is essentially guaranteed ballot access because Democrats don’t bother to run in a lot of statewide races.)

    Every state, however, should have a LP chapter. That’s why the George Phillies campaign helped to restore functionality to the Maryland LP. We’re working on other states as well.

  87. paulie cannoli Says:

    Nigel:

    When did Maryland not have a chapter? Can you provide more details?

    BTW, the factors cited by Tim and Austin are a big part of why I’m supporting
    Steve Kubby.

    http://kubby.com/

    Tom Knapp tells me the new and presumably much better website for Kubby should be up in, possibly, hours, or a few days at the most.

  88. Timothy West Says:

    I hate to keep beating on the Ben Brandon Drum, esp. since he’s left the LP, but there’s a huge lesson to be learned there in both what makes good political candidates and what motivates voters. His entire story should be examined, because he showed both what it takes to win against R’s and D’s AND what kind of real issues the public cares about. He took a lot of seniors off the property tax rolls.

    Now he’s a R, but while he was in the LP I think he showed the way to relevance for the LP in local and state races. He’s one of the every few LP candidates that got to both win in a 3 way race, get elected, AND got to implement the main issue he ran on and turn it into law. He succeeded where very few LP candidates have, and the reasons why have not been given much airing. I think it would be good to do so - there’s a story there the LP needs to understand.

    The LP runs activists as candidates. They often don’t make the best candidates.

    We should let activists be activists and actively recruit candidates with the “Brandon factor” - broad community appeal and expertise in the office sought.

    and yes, I know it’s easy to say, and harder to do.

  89. paulie cannoli Says:

    Better yet, activists should pursue broad community involvement and expertise in the office sought. That goes against the grain of many (most?) libertarian activists, we tend to be kinda anti-social.

    I’m not too antisocial myself, but I travel full time, and I have a ton of skeletons in the closet, and in the living room, front pronch, and all the way out to the end of the driveway, metaphorically speaking of course, since I have no closet, no living room, no porch and no driveway in reality.

    But for those who are at least clean and stable enough to not do more harm than good by trying, I would recommend becoming socially involved in the community, not just because it helps run for office later, but because it makes the activist personally more well-rounded and capable of carrying on an argument without sounding extra-stupid to the listener (regardless of how smart that activist actually is).

    As they say in AA, “fake it ‘til you make it.”

    Also, the LP should expand its outreach to more effectively bring in more people who already have those strengths.

  90. Eric L Says:

    To Austin, Tim, & Paulie,
    You’re all right. Essentially what all are advocating is qualified, socially integrated, people who are citizens in their community. Politics is a human phenomenon that is intensely personal. Not dissimilar from high school and electing a prom king and queen, ‘those who know people and are liked, are more successful.’

    Of course, getting the necessary human talent and qualified individuals is a dynamic and random process. There is no bona fide way to recruit an activist, candidate, or voter. I’ve found that most find us and how we interact with them makes the greatest difference. Just like that teacher in school may have inspired or motivated you - the base organization does the same.

    I believe that only by working to increase our presence and ultimately exposure to voters/public will we ever be successful. As soon as we attain a level of legitimacy (which is not easy) people will come. Ca