Friday, October 22, 2010

Tea Party Kochheads?

[This article will also appear in the Macalester Review.]

The demagoguery of politics illustrates an interesting principle; it is easier to ‘otherize’, or alienate, your opponents than to understand them. Such is the case with the Koch brothers, a pair of libertarian corporate moguls who fund a variety of think tanks and activist outfits with their preponderant wealth.

Jane Meyer’s piece (“Covert Operations”) from The New Yorker fits this mold. Her essential thesis? Two men, Charles and David Koch, are employing limitless financial resources to attack the political establishment from all corners on a quest to fill their corporate pockets.

From the very beginning of the piece we see the process of otherization at work. The first photo in the article exhibits the most sinister portrayal of David Koch, a man slowly dying of prostate cancer, the world has ever seen. Continuing with this theme, she shifts to a ‘chilly’ hotel in Austin, Texas, where astro-turfing minions conspire.

I had to raise an eyebrow here. Has Meyer ever lived in Texas? After more summer vacations to Austin than I can count, I can forthrightly attest that the heat is sweltering. But I digress.

The author goes on to delineate the network of organizations the pair funds- the ‘Kochtopus’. Over the span of three decades they have funded and participated in the founding of the Americans for Prosperity, CATO Institute, Reason Foundation, Federalist Society, Institute for Humane Studies, and the Mercatus Center. All focus on different (but often over-lapping) aspects of libertarianism.

Jane Meyer is at her best when she sticks to facts. One of the strongest portions of her article deals with some of the less savory actions of Koch Industries. For example, she describes how one Senate committee accused Koch Oil of “a widespread and sophisticated scheme to steal crude oil from Indians and others through fraudulent mismeasuring” and launched an investigation the matter (after a flood of Koch Industries lobbyists descended upon the committee, no charges were filed).

Similarly, the company was forced to settle when accused of responsibility for three hundred oil spills and the release of the carcinogen benzene into the environment. She also accurately points out that, “their companies have benefitted from nearly a hundred million dollars in government contracts since 2000.”

All of these provide an excellent perspective to the mindset of the Koch brothers in the business world. Nevertheless, Meyer begins to err when she claims their libertarian views “dovetail with the brothers’ corporate interests.”

For example, in one instance she argues that the Mercatus Center’s advocacy for deregulation of all types was a clear example of the Koch brothers funneling money to an institution solely to advance its business interests. However, libertarians hold that regulation can act as monopolizing forces for companies like Koch Industries. Thomas O’Malley, a major player in the petroleum industry, asks “Why in the world would you fight clean fuels? ... The more stringent you make specifications, those become barriers to entry. ... Strong companies would have an advantage.”

Similarly, Meyer makes a fuss about the brothers’ admiration of Nobel laureate of FA Hayek. However, she fails to grasp what Hayek actually supported. For example, the 2005 energy bill that gave large companies like Koch Industries tax breaks and subsidies would be an example of government-encouraged monopoly; Hayek explicitly rejects this concept in several books. In addition, his work Law, Legislation and Liberty describes a certain role for general environmental rules set by the government in a libertarian society. In essence, Hayek would likely not endorse the business methods of his admirers.

In fact, many of the groups which the Koch brothers support would actually disapprove of their actions. The Reason Foundation, which vociferously attacked the Koch-supported President Bush, is a strident opponent of corporate welfare. In addition, the Institute for Humane Studies often hosts Timothy Carney, who generally discusses “the evils of corporate welfare and bailouts, and the destructive influence of the Big Business lobby in Washington,” at events the Koch brothers attend.

Furthermore, it seems that the brothers’ donations to political candidates seem to contradict their ideology. In New York, David Koch has donated large amounts to Democrat Andrew Cuomo’s gubernatorial campaign. Similarly, Koch Industries funnels significant funding to Kansas Republicans Todd Tiahrt and Sam Brownback, two beacons of social conservatism. In fact, the company’s PAC donated the maximum sum to Trey Grayson in the Republican Senate primary in Kentucky, despite the presence of libertarian standard-bearer Rand Paul in the race.

It seems that there are two political sides to the Koch brothers. One the one hand, they lobby Washington for special business privileges and environmental exemptions by donating to candidates who control the gears of power. On the other hand, the corporate executives donate millions of dollars to those institutions which can shift public discourse towards their ideal political system. Rather than viewing this as a symbiotic relationship, the two goals are almost mutually exclusive.

But is the corporate money itself immoral, regardless of intentions? In this regard, the critics of the Koch brothers have less ground to stand on. Let’s face it: smart people who publish academic studies cannot feed themselves without money. Even Meyer must acknowledge this point, as Tim Carney points out that she, “cites the blogs ThinkProgress and ClimateProgress, the Web site Media Matters and the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy without ever mentioning they are funded by billionaire financier George Soros.” Soros, of course, is the liberal billionaire who donated over $100 million to MoveOn.org in the hopes of ousting President George W Bush in 2004. Iconoclastic liberaltarian David Weigel explains, “The reality is that think tanks and public interest magazines are funded by rich people.” The same would apply to activist outfits like Americans for Prosperity, the much-maligned brainchild of David Koch.

One final point must be made. If the Koch clan really intends to monopolize and control the Tea Party movement, they have done a pretty shoddy job. Kenneth Vogel writes in Politico, “the handful of tea party groups that have raised substantial amounts … through pre-existing connections to wealthy donors, are viewed suspiciously within the movement.

Local groups have been left to literally pass hats seeking donations at their meetings or rely on their organizers’ bank accounts…”

As somebody who has attended Tea Party protests in the past, I can attest that the individual local rally has zero connection to some shadowy financier. The Koch brothers may, in a very indirect fashion, provide some activism training and organizations capacity to small pockets of an angry conservative electorate. However, the efforts of national groups at micro-managing or co-opting Tea Party supporters is like throwing a rock into a river and hoping it will stop flowing.

After bailouts and record deficits under President Bush and stimulus spending and healthcare reform under President Obama, the conservative electorate of the country is angry at some alien ‘establishment. This has generated surprising amounts of activism from those on the right. When I attended the Republican Party of Texas state convention this year, they announced that over half of those present were attending for the first time. The electorate is angry, but it is seeking a way to engage.

Nevertheless, it is inconvenient for those on the left to simply ascribe their electoral troubles to anti-establishment furor (a weapon first utilized in 2008 by President Obama). Conservatives otherized Barack Obama on talk radio, speculating on his faith and shady associates to alienate him from the majority. Now, we see the left undertaking a similar experiment- the otherization of the Tea Party. David and Charles Koch just happen to be the convenient others to lambaste.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spoil Your Vote: The Case For Voting Third Party

[Note: This article will also appear in the Macalester Review].

[Secondary Note, 4/3/2012: Since writing this article a long time ago I have since rethought some of these arguments. In general, there are many advantages to working within the two party system, considering the unworkability of everybody voting in the manner described in this piece and the resulting inability to form a meaningful electoral coalition. Still, I think I articulated an interesting perspective in this piece that is worth reading.]

When you have to vote for the lesser of two evils, voting can give you a dirty feeling. Take our last three presidential elections. In 2000, 96.3% of voters supported a major party candidate for President of the United States. In 2004, the figure jumped to 99%. In 2008, the numbers were relatively unchanged at 98.6%.

But what did the country gain from its steadfast support of the two major parties? President Bush’s record of fiscal recklessness, including a deeply flawed Medicare reform package and corporatist bailouts, stands for itself. Similarly, President Obama has made little effort to substantively cut the deficit, increasing defense spending while passing a massive stimulus package filled with corporatist public-private partnerships.

Readers may be surprised to discover the striking parallel between Republicans and Democrats on other issues. Under President Bush, the DEA destroyed the concept of federalism with its rampant drug raids of medicinal marijuana dispensaries; similarly, Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder opposed the marijuana-legalizing Proposition 19 in California on the grounds that it erodes federal authority.
Foreign policy is the same. President Bush supported war in Iraq and Afghanistan, killing tens of thousands of civilians and destabilizing two nations in the process. Meanwhile, President Obama’s administration continues combat operations without the name in Iraq and backs a nepotistic regime with a new troop surge in Afghanistan. Furthermore, President Obama has dramatically expanded President Bush’s nascent drone strikes in Pakistan (which according to former Petraeus advisor David Kilcullen killed approximately 14 senior Al Qaeda operatives to 700 civilians during a three-year span).

Even on civil liberties, a fundamental bulwark of procedural integrity in any democratic state, the parallels between our heads of state are readily apparent. Bush embraced Guantanamo Bay; Obama has given up on its closure while acting like similar problems do not exist in bases like Bagram in Afghanistan. In addition, both men embrace the growing power of the executive branch of government. Infamous blogger Glenn Greenwald sums it up best when he declares that “on matters of American empire or “state secrets,” the administration is as bad as Bush if not worse.”

Albert Einstein once declared that insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Considering the insanity of the electoral status quo for our country, it may be high time to vote for a third party.

Many will claim that a third party candidate cannot win; however, history dispels this motion. For the purposes of this article, I exclude those candidates who are Independent or minor party candidates on the basis of expediency (including Senator Joseph Lieberman and Governor Charlie Crist). Successful outsider candidates include our own former Reform Party Governor Jesse Ventura, current Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and former Maine Governors James Longley and Angus King. In fact, every year a handful of Independent and minor party state legislators are elected nationwide.

In addition, some state-level minor parties have made significant strides in creating viable electoral alternatives to the two major parties. Two examples rise prominently above the fray. First is the Minnesota Independence Party. This was the party that helped elect Jesse Ventura Governor of our state. In addition, the IP regularly fields candidates breaking double-digit support in statewide contests, including Tim Penny in 2002 and Dean Barkley in 2008.
Similarly, the Vermont Progressive Party has become a significant force in that state’s electoral politics. In 2006, Progressive Anthony Pollina polled over 25% in November, defeating his Democratic opponent for runner-up status. Each year, its candidates win several seats in the state legislature. In addition, Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has a longstanding relationship with the party.

Other state parties are also on the rise. The Green Party maintains strong organizational capabilities in Maine, Arkansas, and Illinois. Similarly, the Libertarian Party has shown growing strength in Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas. One can similarly find growing Constitution, Working Families, and even Pirate Parties all over the country.

Even on a presidential level, the potential exists for a winning Independent candidate. In 1992, Ross Perot led the polls throughout the summer before the election; he arguably lost the election only upon inexplicably dropping out of the race for an entire month. Despite this major blunder, the eccentric billionaire managed 19% of the vote in November. Such an election could happen again; in fact, statistical guru Nate Silver points out that, “It’s quite easy to make a case that the terrain could be favorable for a third-party candidate in 2012.”

Of course, there are third party candidates who never have a chance to win. They may have negligible fundraising, little media attention, or simply choose not to campaign. Nevertheless, credible reasons remain to pull the lever for such candidates.

Let’s confront reality- your one individual vote will often not change the outcome of an election. Most congressional and state legislative districts are gerrymandered, so we know which party will win an election before it ever happens (unless you were in Massachusetts for Scott Brown’s upset). In addition, if an election is close enough to make each individual vote count, you simply move into the recount stage (which puts its primary emphasis on which votes are deemed valid).
However, individual votes do matter for minor parties and Independent candidates. The simplest function of this is the protest vote- you are an average citizen who is pissed off with the major party candidates, and you want to scream your displeasure by ‘spoiling’ your vote. This does serve a certain purpose, as it can force the major parties to expand their political base to account for your interests (provided enough similarly-minded voters also ‘protest vote’).

Nevertheless, there is a more practical function performed when you vote third party. Candidates outside of the major parties have difficulty creating a political base with the requisite fundraising capabilities and volunteer network. However, a strong showing at the polls can help alleviate this burden. For starters, many states have vote tests that determine ballot access for minor parties. Without meeting a certain polling threshold in previous elections, minor parties like the Libertarians and Greens must funnel thousands upon thousands of dollars to petition their way onto the ballot. However, if a party meets a vote test it can save this money for actual campaigning. In addition, strong electoral performances signal viability to potential donors and volunteers in subsequent bids for office for third party candidates. Thus, in a paradoxical fashion voting for a candidate who will not win can have a bigger effect than voting for the candidates that can.

I must add a caveat before I conclude. I am not saying that every major party candidate should be disowned. Indeed, I am a Republican who voted in my party’s primary and attended the state convention in 2010. Every now and then, I find decent candidates slip through the cracks of the Republocratic machine and find themselves on general election ballots. In that case, have no qualms about voting for a major party candidate. But if you really don’t like the major party choices in November, don’t feel dirty; spoil your vote.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Liberty Ticker, 6/27/10

Here we go again on the heels of another Tuesday primary. Apologies for the immense delay between updates, as I had alot going on at the time. Also, this update has very few links, as I have no computer at the moment and am forced to use the library whenever possible. Anywho,

US SENATE

Upset at the Salt Lake (Mike Lee - UT - R)

Mike Lee battled businessman Tim Bridgewater for the Republican nomination to the US Senate in Utah last Tuesday. Bridgewater received a boost from an endorsement from former Senator Bob Bennett, who was ousted during the Republican state convention on the second ballot. In addition, former candidate and activist Cherilyn Eager, who finished 4th with some dedicated support at the convention, endorsed Bridgewater. To top it off, Bridgewater was endorsed by The Salt Lake Tribune, a prominent newspaper in the state.

Lee struck back with some last-minute endorsements of his own, from the TeaPartyExpress and Rep. Ron Paul. Besides previous support from Senator Jim Demint, Lee benefited from volunteers sent by Dick Armey's Freedomworks organization. In the end, Lee beat Bridgewater 51 to 49%. Lee will face Democrat businessman Sam Granato in the fall, but in this deep red state the Republican will almost certainly win.

One last minute endorsement for Lee came in from radio commentator and pundit Glenn Beck. The day before the primary Beck lambasted Bridgewater in a manner reminiscient of Debra Medina. For those who support Paul's faction of the Republican Party, Beck appears to be a double-edged sword. However, this would also seem to discredit conspiracy theories that Beck takes marching orders from "the establishment."

GOVERNOR

Predictable Ending (Nikki Haley - SC - R)

ANother round of primaries too place this last Tuesday. One of the most-watched races was for Governor of South Carolina, where oft-criticized State Senator Nikki Haley took on TARP-supporting Represtative Gresham Barraett in a runoff. Haley won as predicted with a healthy margin of 65 to 35%. In red South Carolina she is expected to take over the Governor's office in November from Mark Sanford.

An interesting scenario may play out in 2012 with Haley in the governor's office. South Carolina is an early presidential primary state, so the Governor's endorsement can influence the outcome of the vote and the trends of the primary season. While Haley has supported Ron Paul's Campaign For Liberty organization in the past, Paul himself never endorsed her in the race. However, Mitt Romney endorsed her and donated $42,000 to her campaign from a series of PACs he controls. Haley also campaigned for Romney in 2008. However, Sarah Palin also endorsed Haley at a critical point in the primary. With numerous potential presidential candidates in the mix, Haley has many options headed into 2012.

US HOUSE

"Libertarian Republican" (Mick Mulvaney - South Carolina - 05 - R)

A surprisingly strong challenge to entrenched 14-term Democrat Jon Spratt has emerged in the form of South Carolina State Senator Mick Mulvaney. A few weeks ago Mulvaney clinched the Republican nomination in the race in an uncontested primary. However, he has had momentum on his side for quite some time. In January PublicPolicyPolling had Mulvaney only 7 points back in the race. More recent internal polling (take this of course with a massive grain of salt) shows Mulvaney withing the margin of error, polling 41% to Spratt's 43. A few days ago the state senator secured the endorsement of Dick Armey's Freedomworks, which may help Mulvaney find national money to take on the incumbent.

One interesting note about Mulvaney's campaign is the influx of Minnesota figures coming to his aid. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty will soon be appearing with Mulvaney at a fundraiser. In addition, radio host Jason Lewis of Minneapolis previously headlined a fundraiser for the state senator.

The surprising aspect of Mulvaney's candidacy is the degree of support the national party appears to lend him. The candidate recently declared he is a "Libertarian Republican". He lead the fight against RealID in South Carolina (along with Haley), and he has said that he would vote to repeal the Patriot Act. Interestingly, I and others have been unable to find ANY information on his foreign policy stances. Whether this means he is hiding a closet non-interventionist stance or simply doesn't care about the issue remains to be seen.

Broken Promises (Justin Amash - MI - 03 - R)

State Representative Justin Amash continues to gain momentum in the crowded race to succceed Congressman Vern Ehlers in Michigan's third congressional district. He finally gained an official endorsment from Ron Paul (through LibertyPAC). In addition, former Michigan Senator Spencer Abraham lent his support to the state representative. And most significantly, Amash has the backing of the prominent Devoss family (some of the biggest donors to the Republican Party).

Amash has recently seen national press on his position of posting a rationale for every vote he takes on Facebook. This actually is a wise policy, politically and for transparency. On the political side, local Michigan newspapers can easily look to Amash's Facebook page for any position on a bill (useful to reporters trying to write a story). Thus, Amash gets his name thrown around a bit in Michigan newspapers.

One endorsement Amash didn't secure? Vern Ehlers. The incumbent remains bitter after Amash entered the race with the intent to primary him. Despite a pledge to remain neutral in the primary, Ehlers has endorsed ex-Kent County Commissioner Steve Heacock (much to the chagrin of State Senator Bill Hardiman, another primary opponent).

Making a Splash (Van Irion - TN - 03 - R)

An outspoken candidate has emerged in yet another attorney, Van Irion. Irion has been effective at grabbing headlines, whether it was for carrying a concealed gun at an interview with a local newspaper or launching a lawsuit on the Obama administration over health care reform immediately after its passage.

The campaign appears to be gathering some momentum. Along with Lee and Amash, Irion secured Ron Paul's endorsement. In addition, a pair of Ronald Reagan's old staffers have come out with their own support for the candidate. Irion also appears to have significant Tea Party support.

Irion is running in a safe Republican district, vacated after Rep. Zach Wamp decided to run for governor. It is a crowded field, so Irion may just pull it out and grab the nomination in August.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Liberty Ticker, 5/05/10

Welcome to the latest Liberty Ticker! Today I give a post-mortem on the primaries in Ohio, North Carolina, and Indiana yesterday. In addition, we'll cover other major developments in the most prominent liberty campaigns.

PS: don't forget to join our Facebook page here!

US HOUSE

Left Out (Ron Hood, R-OH-18)

After the Republican primary for this seat, a recount is underway to determine if state Senator Bob Gibbs or Fred Dailey has won the Republican nomination for congressional district 14. They split the lead with 21% each. Former state representative Ron Hood came in 4th in the 8 – way race with 15% of the vote. Hood was endorsed by Ron Paul.

The winner of the primary will face Zack Space in the general election. Space rode into Congress in the aftermath of the Abramoff scandal. However, his district leans Republican despite large margins of victory in both of his bids for the seats.

Another lost opportunity (Dan Eichenbaum, R-NC-11)

Another close Republican primary was found in the North Carolina 11th. Republicans have been optimistic about a chance to defeat incumbent Democrat Heath Shuler (who was surprisingly weak in his own primary)in this congressional district.

However, tea partier and 9/12er Dan Eichenbaum ran a surprisingly resilient bid, winning numerous debates and gaining widespread support despite his previous Libertarian affiliation.

Eichenbaum was defeated by Jeff Miller, a small businessman. The vote was 40.2% for Miller and 34% for Eichenbaum. The significance of this run is that Miller was from a prominent Republican stronghold in the district, while Eichenbaum's base had a much smaller population. Eichenbaum definitely has the potential with his new name recognition to run in another election at some point.

Another close one (Kristi Risk, R-IN-08)

It was a bloody fight in the Bloody Eighth.

For awhile, it seemed victory was at hand in the seat Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth is vacating to run for US Senate. In the establishment ring was NRCC favorite and surgeon Larry Buschon. In the 'constitutionalist' (as she described herself) ring was Kristi Risk, a homemaker and activist.

Risk's 32-29 defeat at the hands of Buschon is deceptively stinging. Risk was massively outspent in the race, and has now created good name recognition for a later run (particularly if Buschon loses in the general- the seat is rated a tossup). With Risk's loss, rumors have abounded that the tea party may endorse the Democrat in the race.

Now the good news (BJ Lawson, R-NC-04)

Now put a smile on your face. BJ Lawson has won his primary in the 4th district against businessman Frank Roche with a 46-40 margin. Lawson was endorsed by Ron Paul in his 2008 bid. He also secured the endorsements of economist Mish Shedlock and Rep. Walter Jones this time around.

The district is a Democrat stronghold. When Lawson was the nominee in 2008, he lost by 27 points to long-standing incumbent David Price. However, no candidate has come as close as Lawson to victory since 1994. In addition, Lawson managed to secure massive funding in his 08 bid- $600,000. One must consider Lawson had zero name recognition in his first bid- he can build on this now in a Republican year (unlike 2008, a Democrat year).

Beam me up, Scotty! (Jim Traficant, I-OH-17)

America's favorite Israel lobby hating, Star Trek loving, toupee wearing, ranting former congressman and ex-con is making a return to the political scene this November. Former Rep. Jim Traficant is running for his old congressional seat in the 17th district of Ohio against his old staffer, Democrat Tim Ryan.

Traficant represented the Youngstown district for 20 years before being convicted of bribery and racketeering. He was sent to federal prison, where he refused leniency. However, he did run for Congress from his prison cell in 2002 and received 15% of the vote.

Traficant's bid has many pros and cons. On the con side, he has been out of office for seven years, time for Ryan to consolidate his base in the heavily Democratic district. He also has not even started fundraising yet, and will have no access to a major party fundraising machine. Finally, a Republican is running, which could take away some of his anti-incumbent support.

However, Traficant still has the record of his time in office. In addition, Traficant appears to have significant tea party support. Finally, the district has hit hard times as manufacturing has lost its luster in the US. Traficant could represent the past days of glory for the steel-laden district.

US SENATE

Crushing Blow (John Hostettler, R-IN)

John Hostettler has lost in his bid for the Republican nomination for the US Senate in Indiana. The results came in: former Senator Dan Coats, 41%. state Senator Marlin Stutzman, 31%. former Representative John Hostettler, 21%.

Hostettler's lackluster showing probably comes from the recent Jim Demint endorsement earlier in April. With that endorsement, almost $100,000 poured into Stutzman's campaign, paying for 2 ads. Hostettler had no money for ads, a crippling problem despite his massive volunteer effort.

If Hostettler ever runs again, he should probably shoot for low-hanging fruit. The Bloody Eight district would be a good place to start, heading back to the House of Representatives where he can afford to be a bit cheaper.

Still, Stutzman and Hostettler probably split the conservative vote to let the establishment Coats in (Coats voted for the Brady Bill and lobbied for Bank of America during the bailouts). Conservative Democrat Brad Ellsworth must be happy to be facing such a bloodied candidate.

Draw the battle lines (Rand Paul, R-KY)

The lines have finally been drawn after much dancing. After James Dobson came out and endorsed Rand Paul, Senator Mitch McConnell finally officially endorsed Trey Grayson. Then, after staying out of the race for some time, Jim Demint trudged in and endorsed Rand.

Demint has promised to bring in $50,000 for Paul's campaign. One cannot help but wonder if McConnell's endorsement is a desperate act to save the sinking Grayson campaign. The latest independent poll shows Rand leading Grayson by 12 points.

This poll actually shows a bit of weakening for Rand. My theory is that Grayson's negative ad campaign is starting to bring down Rand's stellar favorables, something that was expected to happen evenetually. Surprisingly, Grayson is performing slightly better now against the two Democratic frontrunners.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Surveys in Liberty: Jeff Daiell

This is the start in a series of personalized questionnaires with some of the liberty candidates we cover. I decided to contact Mr. Daiell because he has run some of the top Libertarian campaigns in Texas history. He kindly agreed to answer my questions, in bold and italics. Mr. Daiell's answers are in normal text.

Please note, The Libertarian Party state convention will be in Austin from June 11th - June 13th. The Texas LP will choose its statewide nominees at this convention, including its gubernatorial candidate.

the Libertarian Party

Why did you choose to run as a Libertarian rather than as a Republicanor Democrat?


Advocates of Liberty are not welcome in either Beltway Party. Only by applying pressure from the outside -- whether by winning elections or, often, just by drawing a few percent of the total vote away from the two tax-subsidized parties -- will there be any movement toward greater respect for the free market and civil liberties.

There is a heated race for the Libertarian National Committee chair. Do you have any preferences for the position?

I have been focused on Texas issues to this point.

In Texas there is a perception that voting for a Libertarian will hurtthe Republican Party. Is this accurate?

The Libertarian Party draws votes from both Beltway parties. Much depends on the individual race. Were the two tax-subsidized parties to nominate more advocates of Liberty, more candidates respectful of the limits placed on Government by the Federal and State constitutions, Libertarians would not draw as many votes from them as we do --- and we often draw enough to win elections! Indeed, several hundred Libertarians have been elected to public office.

Why should you be the Libertarian nominee for Governor over your competitors?

Every one of the other contenders for the Libertarian nomination would be a vast improvement over either of the nominees of the Beltway parties. But I am the only candidate for the Libertarian nomination who has experience running an active, Statewide, partisan race.

In recent years the Texas LP has experienced remarkable growth. How can Libertarians build on this success?

We have begun hiring full-time staff to ensure that tasks that might not be fulfilled by unpaid volunteers are, in fact, accomplished. Also, if we do well enough in this year's gubernatorial race, we can secure our place on the ballot for a period long enough to allow us to concentrate on winning races at the local level. I am the only Libertarian in Texas to have done that well in a race for Governor (see "Political History" on the Meet Jeff page at www.JeffDaiell.com).

Politicians and Politics

What are your thoughts on your opposition, Republican Governor RickPerry and Democrat Mayor Bill White?

Both represent the failed policies of the past; both are more concerned with the agenda of the special interests than what is best for John and Jane Texas.

Both Bill White and Rick Perry have millions of dollars with which to campaign. How will you compete in the money race?

Because Libertarians represent John Q. Public instead of J. P. Morgan, we cannot match their campaign treasuries. If nominated, I will, while employing TV and radio to the extent possible, also use other media to reach out to Texas voters.

Your Plans

If you could immediately make one change in Austin, what change would it be?


I would like to see a Libertarian Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Libertarian majorities in both Houses of the Texas Legislature. In terms of policy, I would like to begin moving away from property taxes.

I am sure this will come up soon for you- how do you feel about the recently passed immigration law in Arizona?

I favor an approach that makes legal immigration easier while transferring social services to the private sector so that taxpayers are not burdened by the influx of individuals from other lands. This would insure that those who seek to come here and support themselves have that opportunity, while those who wish to exploit the public-sector social-welfare network will not be able to. The status quo is not working and must be changed, in ways consistent with the Constitution.

What is your long-term plan to solve Texas budget shortfalls?

I favor more aggressive use of the Texas Sunset Act (see "Issues" page at www.JeffDaiell.com) to reduce the State bureaucracy. I favor transferring social services to the private sector. I want to re-focus law enforcement more exclusively against crimes of violence, theft, and fraud to reduce the damage done to the Texas economy by such criminal acts. I want to repeal any regulations and any statutes that restrict competition in any industry in Texas -- this will lower prices, raise wages, and allow the economic growth we need while reducing the expenditures being made to enforce those anti-competitive rules.

Your softball question: Succinctly, why should you be the next Governor of Texas?

Because the gubernatorial nominees of the two tax-subsidized parties will not enact the reforms (such as the ones cited in previous answers in this survey) needed in Texas, whereas I would work with legislators of all three parties to put those changes into effect.

For Texas and Liberty,

Jeff Daiell

If you are running a viable campaign somewhere in the country, do not hesitate to post here and indicate your interest. I am always looking for opportunities to help voters connect with potential representatives of their interests.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The International Rule of Law

It is true that government does not rule society; however, government does provide the framework under which society operates. This framework may be succinctly described by the “Rule of Law.” Political philosopher FA Hayek describes this term in The Road to Serfdom as meaning “Government in all its actions is bound by rules fixed and announced beforehand – rules which make it possible to foresee with fair certainty how the authority will use its coercive powers in given circumstances and to plan one’s individual affairs on the basis of this knowledge.” This ideal is present in legal systems all over the world.

The Constitution in the United States clearly serves this role. First, Articles I – III enumerate the powers the federal government may exercise. Second, the Bill of Rights prevents the government’s excessive intrusion upon the autonomy of its citizens. Citizens may then act within their appropriate spheres, understanding to what degree the government may exercise over authority over their private lives. For example, under the 2nd Amendment an individual has the right to bear arms (based upon District of Columbia v Heller), but that individual may also have their property seized by the government under the principle of eminent domain described in the 5th Amendment. The clear delineation of government authority versus individual autonomy allows each of us to effectively exercise our liberty.

Other countries’ legal systems serve a similar role. For example, while the United Kingdom has no written constitution, its system of common law provides for precedent to guide and restrict the authority with which the central government may act. French civil law, based largely upon the Napoleonic Code, operates on the principle of comprehensively gathering all precedents of French law into one accessible, rather than monolithic, entity. Even religious law may serve to guide a populace and create specific spheres of governance. Sharia law, practiced by Islamic nations like Iran and Saudi Arabia, provides for a council of legal scholars, or the ulama, to interpret law and issue declarations based upon consensus and religious documents like the Quran.

We see common trends in each of these legal systems. For example, the reliance of the ulama upon consensus would include consideration of past decisions in a manner much like English common law. Similarly, French codification has been borrowed by the United States on both the statewide and national levels (as in the Federal Code). Despite geographical and cultural differences, countries share the most effective legal innovations to govern and guide their constituencies.

As globalization continues, this process will only intensify. Today, we see a move toward international law, whether it is the recent passage of the Lisbon Treaty in the EU or the International Criminal Court. It remains to be seen how effective these institutions will prove in the long-term; however, they represent an extension of the process of borrowing and adapting legal systems in order to create a more effective framework for governance. The Rule of Law continues to adapt to a changing world.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Indiana Senate and Facebook

Two announcements:

1) I have put up a new poll on the Indiana Senate race. The Republican Party primary there is May 4th, featuring frontrunners Dan Coats, John Hostettler and Marlin Stutzman. In addition, there are two other tea parties, prominent Democrat Representative Brad Ellsworth, and a Libertarian in the race. Vote and let your voice be heard!

2) The Liberty Ticker now has a fan page on Facebook. Please go here to give it some support!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Liberty Ticker, 4/22/10

We have a heavy plate for the Liberty Ticker tonight. Some big names, some relatively obscure names, and lots of interesting battles.

US SENATE

Fighting onwards (John Hostettler, R-IN)

His primary is coming up on May 4th. However, former Representative John Hostettler is having a headache he probably doesn't want to have again. His fundraising is anemic, hauling in only $37,000 and having only $10,000 on hand. For the record, one day of statewide advertising in Indiana is ~ $30,000. Hostettler's campaign has launched a money blitz in the hopes of solving this massive problem.

This contrasts with his opponents. Though still weak for a candidate with high-profile connections, former Senator Dan Coats hauled in $379,000, far more than all 3 major candidates. In addition, Coats got the best endorsement you can get in Indiana: Mike Pence.

Meanwhile, the weakest candidate in the race, Marlin Stutzman, secured the endorsement of arch-conservative Jim Demint. This will help the upstart tea partier and state Senator with fundraising, something Hostettler really does not need. Stutzman and Hostettler both have close tea party connections, so if the split the anti-establishment vote Coats could slide into victory (despite having the most baggage). And without that money, Hostettler cannot break past Stutzman and Coats.

Coup and conflict (Rand Paul, R-KEN)

Mixed stories for Rand Paul tonight. On the plus side, Rand is launching an ad buy featuring Sarah Palin before the Kentucky primary (a boon in conservative Kentucky politics). On the negative, Dr. Paul has had a conflict with Kentucky Right to Life over a questionnaire. Apparently, the original copy excluded an answer to one question, but the campaign produced another copy with an answer (although apparently not the one submitted). Still, the Paul campaign maintains it is 100% pro-life.

Civil War (Mike Lee, R-UT)

Normally, Republican Senator Bob Bennett would be sitting high and dry. But Utah has an unusual electoral system that causes most of the primary action to occur in each party's state convention.

Instead, a candidate can win the nomination with 60% of the vote in a 2 way race at the state convention. Suddenly, Bennett must watch out on his right flank. Many Tea Partiers are angry that Bennett voted for TARP. Now, those Tea Partiers appear to be trying to seize control of the Utah GOP. The candidate that the greatest number of these people appear to back is Mike Lee.

Mike Lee is the Utah Attorney General. He polls competitively for the convention and appears to be the frontrunner, but it all depends who makes it to the 1 on 1 with Bennett if he wins the nomination or another Tea Partier, like self-funding businessman Tim Bridgewater. Lee stands out for recent comments on Afghanistan coming out against nation building in that country.

For the record (Bob Smith, R-FL)

The former New Hampshire Senator has officially ended his bid for the Senate in Florida. He did not get the necessary fundraising or press to compete against Tea Party upstart Marco Rubio or incumbent Governor Charlie Crist in the Republican primary. He has abortively run for Senate in Florida in the past.

US HOUSE

Missed a frontrunner (Justin Amash, R-MI-03)

My bad. I completely forgot about one of the most viable bids a liberty-lover could find, that of Justin Amash. Justin is currently a state representative. He is also an open Ron Paul supporter and a Tea Party favorite.

Justin helped clear the field in this district when he launched a primary bid against incumbent Republican Vern Ehlers. The incumbent soon retired, breaking this conservative district wide open.

Amash is leading in the fundraising (for both the Republicans and Democrats) and has been campaigning hard. He has raised $116k and has $66k on hand.

Back to '94 (Adam Kokesh, R-NM-03)

Adam Kokesh has signed onto the Tea Party's Contract From America. The document, pushed by groups like Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks, is an attempt to repeat the Contract With America from 1994.

High-profile rankings (Jeff Flake and Michelle Bachmann, R-AZ and R-MN-06)

The Club For Growth, the group that is apt to intervene in Republican primaries in favor of fiscally conservative candidates with huge ad buys, has released its ratings for congressmen for the year. Coming in first is Jeff Flake, the anti-earmark crusader. Flake just recently endorsed John McCain in the Arizone Senate race.

Coming in at number 2 for the CfG is the always controversial Michelle Bachmann.

GOVERNOR

Politics as the game is played (Kristin Davis and Warren Redlich, L-NY)

Wow. Warren Redlich has leaked a large amount of correspondence with conservative New York politico Roger Stone, and there is lots to take in there. Essentially, Stone asked Redlich to jump into the Attorney General race and let Davis get the Libertarian Governor nomination, and in exchange he could work with Paladino to get on the Republican primary ballot and cover petitioning costs. If not, Stone with take Redlich to court over the name Libertarian. I highly suggest skimming through the emails.

Some of the highlights:

1) Stone's association with the Davis campaign appears to be a strategy to emphasize the socially liberal side of libertarianism to take votes from Andrew Cuomo (the Democrat) and get them to Tea Partier Carl Paladino.

2) There is talk of Larry Flynt jumping onto Davis' ticket in some role.

3) Davis WILL NOT be attending the LP Convention in New York. Instead, she will petition to make her own party (which doesn't bode well for Redlich or Davis, having to compete for votes in the general election).

4) Stone mentioned the Republican, Lazio, could be offered a judgeship to clear the way for Paladino. Paladino, for his part, is preparing a massive ad buy for his self-funded campaign.

WHEW. Welcome to New York politics.

Upstart debater (Eric Cooper, L-IA)

Debates can have a powerful impact on elections. For Libertarian Eric Cooper, he must surely be thankful for his performance recently. Cooper apparently dominated a recent gubernatorial debate in an audience filled with conservatives, sparking some press. The article notes that the rhetoric employed focused more on limited government and fiscal conservatism than personal freedom.

PRESIDENT

More polling (Ron Paul, R-TX)

Somehow Ron Paul always has something to earn a place in the Liberty Ticker. PPP has just released a new poll on the Republican Primary in New Hampshire. Paul runs better than he did in 2008 with a showing of 7% at the moment (in 2008, he pulled in ~4% of the vote).

Also of note, PPP is soon to add Ron Paul to its nationwide polling for president next month, along with Newt Gingrich. Currently, it looks as if Mitt Romney is the frontrunner for the GOP nomination to take on Obama.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Recent Corrections

When you put out lots of material on your blog, you are bound to make a few mistakes. I am no exception, for better or for worse. So here, I will post up the mistakes I know I have made the past few weeks since The Liberty Ticker's inception.

1) This isn't much of an error, but when I mentioned an internal poll on the Republican primary in the Indiana Senate race, I neglected to include Marlin Stutzman. Stutzman is a state Senator who is also running to succeed Evan Bayh with a significant amount of tea party support (he has Jim Demint's endorsement. While I don't support him myself, he is a viable candidate and should have been mentioned. I make it a point to include someone in mentions of polls if they are running competitively, and his 18% was competitive. That isn't to say he will win- I would still say it is a race between Hostettler and Coats; however, he will definitely play a big role in it.

2) More prominently, one 'campaign' I covered was that of Mike Munger. In 2008 he ran with the LP for Governor in North Carolina. I incorrectly wrote that he was running for another office in 2010, but this is not the case. I do think it is likely he will be running again in 2012 for Governor, but as for 2010 expect him to simply lend support.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Legalized Monopoly - Ballot Access Laws in America

Except for the board game of the same name, Americans have generally railed against the power of monopolies. With their ability to maintain predominance over the production and sale of some product, monopolies are seen as having the power to destroy competition and fairness. However, few realize this concept can extend beyond the marketplace and into our government. Incumbent elected officials, in the guise of Republicans and Democrats, have managed to secure a monopoly on our political process. Their access to less stringent ballot restrictions, a friendly bureaucracy, and favorable court decisions has created a situation where independent or minor party candidates have an institutional disadvantage in politics which subverts the concept of democracy in our society.


In many states, minor party and independent candidates face the unique barrier of having to gain ballot access solely by petition. This is the tedious process of contacting one registered voter at a time to sign his or her name on a petition to allow the candidate in question to simply appear on the ballot. Many different restrictions can make this a Herculean task. Sometimes, an excessive number of signatures are required to gain ballot access. This is the case in Georgia, where a 1943 law requires the signatures of 5% of registered voters on a petition in order for minor party and independent candidates to gain ballot access. Since 1943, no minor party or independent candidate has appeared on the ballot in Georgia for the United States House of Representatives. However, there have been plenty of Republicans and Democrats, who are only required to pay a filing fee to appear in the primary election. Other restrictions make the process even more difficult for minor party or independent candidates. Texas is considered a difficult state for minor parties because of the “primary screen-out”. Essentially, the number of signatures is not the problem here; instead, the problem is who can sign. If a registered voter participates in a Republican or Democratic Party primary, he or she is barred from signing a nominating petition for a minor party or independent candidate. This barrier is notable when one considers that the act of signing a petition to place a candidate on the ballot is different than actually voting for said candidate. However, the two political parties in power cannot grasp this nuance.


Beyond the mechanics of the bias in our political system toward the two major parties, there is a substantial bias in implementation of election law. One particularly notable example occurred in Texas in the 2008 presidential election. Only one minor party candidate obtained ballot access here, Libertarian Bob Barr. Besides this candidate, only the two major parties were assumed to appear on the ballot. However, it became apparent after the deadline of August 26th that only Bob Barr had completed all the necessary steps to file for ballot access. With both major parties missing the deadline to certify their candidates, one would think that only Mr. Barr would appear on the ballot for the race in Texas. However, the Secretary of State of Texas stated that because she had already planned to place the Democratic and Republican nominees on the ballot for President of the United States, irrespective of the paperwork filed, they would remain in place in that faculty. This contrasts with the stringent deadlines imposed on the Libertarian Party of Texas when in 2004 it was forced to gain sufficient signatures to remain on the ballot in the short period of 75 days- a major burden for a minor party. Apparently leniency may be granted only to major parties rather than all parties.


A similar bias was found in the 2008 presidential election in Louisiana. After a hurricane struck and the Secretary of State of Louisiana closed his office for a week, Bob Barr missed the deadline to file. One would expect leniency in this matter, given the obstacles put forward by nature. In fact, the congressional primary in Louisiana was postponed for that very reason. However, this leniency was not granted. The only difference in the congressional primary’s delay and Barr’s lack of such a reprieve were the victimized parties. In the former situation, every political party would be injured; however, in the latter only minor party candidates like Barr would be at risk. Once again, a clear bias may be found in implementation of election law.


Both of these instances also present another interesting aspect of the problems with ballot access law. There is a substantial bias in favor of the major political parties in the American court system. It must be noted that in both of the implementation problems cited above, the Libertarians promptly turned to our legal system for recourse. In the Texas case, Bob Barr appealed the decision of the Secretary of State to manipulate the rules for the major parties by filing for injunctive relief; essentially, Barr argued the major parties should be removed from the ballot. This motion was rejected with no explanation by the Texas Supreme Court. A parallel case developed from the situation earlier described in Louisiana. There, Barr sued the state for the lack of leniency in granting ballot access and lost in the case Libertarian Party et al v Dardenne. This appears to be the same principle at work as in Texas, yet no uniform decision process was applied. In fact, the one constant is that both decisions disadvantaged minor parties. Rather than being impartial guardians of the law, the courts act as another agent of the Republican and Democratic Parties.


Critics of my position may claim that no substantial abuse occurs, as minor parties have relatively little support compared to the major parties anyway. This idea is not compelling for two reasons. First, one could argue this is a consequence of the flawed ballot access system we have today. When minor party and independent candidates must pour resources into financing a petitioning campaign, their major party competitors have a distinct advantage with resources to advertise and build a sophisticated campaign structure. Such a situation crippled independent presidential candidate John Anderson in 1980, who was forced to spend half of his campaign coffers on the process of simply getting on the ballot. After initially polling above 25%, Anderson’s lack of resources and inability to effectively advertise may have contributed to his lackluster 7% on election day. We may surmise one possible reason Republicans and Democrats retain such a stranglehold on our political system is that they have the ability to legislate such dominance with restrictive ballot access laws.


Beyond this point, a more fundamental principle is at stake with the mentality I described above. The question is not one of politics but democracy. It is true that one accepted principle of democracy is that the majority is given the power to govern. However, another important aspect of this is that the minority is supposed to be allowed to voice dissent. One must wonder if such dissent may be effectively voiced without alternative candidates to select on our election ballot. Our current conception of ballot access law is antithetical to the concept of democracy. True self-rule is not found in the victors curtailing the options of the electorate. Instead, we find only the silencing of minority parties and independent candidates, who are largely excluded through such coercive measures. In the face of such egregious violations of the rights of the minority, a startling conclusion may be reached: one is free to participate in democracy only if you select the manipulated choices of those in power. Of course, such manipulated democracy is not democratic at all.


Whether one looks at our laws, bureaucracy, or court system, one may find clear bias in our ballot access laws. Just like in the market, all of this points to a monopoly of our political system. Only this monopoly does not curtail competition over some product; instead, it controls the voices of the American people. Only with reform of these laws may our society reclaim true democracy.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Liberty Ticker, 4/16/10

Lots of news, so little time!

GOVERNOR

On the upswing (Doug Turner, R-NM)

The outsider campaign of Doug Turner continues to pick up steam. First, a poll (a bit dusty from two weeks ago) showed Turner as one of the two top GOP candidates in the general election. Then, Turner reported raising $400,000 in the 1st quarter of the year, although ~ half of this was a loan to his campaign. Still, this sum is competitive with other GOP candidates. Finally, the campaign recently released a new ad in the race that is going to be aired statewide (it helps that his business, DW Turner, is a public relations company). All in all, Turner has competitive momentum on his side.

Turner has been running the outsider's campaign in New Mexico. He chaired both of Gary Johnson's successful runs for Governor on the Republican ticket. Lately, Turner has been launching a crusade against cap and trade.

Libertarian Slugfest (Kristen Davis and Warren Redlich, L-NY)

The most interesting bids in the New York gubernatorial race are not on the Republican side, where recent Democrat Steve Levy is taking on moderate Republican Rick Lazio. Nor is it in Democrat Andrew Cuomo, the overwhelming favorite to win. And it is definitely not in Carl Paladino.

No, the most interesting race is on the Libertarian ticket. Two cultural factions of the LP are at war in New York. First, we have the tea partying, more conservative faction embodied in Guilderland town board member Warren Redlich. On the opposite side is former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's madam, Kristen Davis. She is running a bit of an unorthodox campaign with some more traditional faces mixed in.

Both are running competitive campaigns. Redlich definitely has more of a traditional base in Libertarian politics (his campaign manager is LP state chair Eric Sundwall); however, Davis has actively advocated for libertarian politics and has been working Libertarian events since the campaign started. Redlich, for his part, stated that he would consider running for another office if Davis wins the nomination.

LOCAL

Defeat (Holly Turner, R-TX-State House)

Holly Turner has lost her bid for state representative to Paul Workman in a runoff. Workman will carry on his bid in the general election in District 47 against Valinda Bolton, the incumbent Democrat. The district is considered a swing district, previously occupied by a Republican before Bolton won a close race in 2006.

US HOUSE

Fighting to Lose (Stephen Broden, R-TX-30)
Yes, he has no chance. Still, Pastor Stephen Broden wants to give it one hell of a run. Despite running against popular Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson in the Democratic North Texas district, Broden is still running to win. He is running a bit of an unconventional campaign, openly pointing out his race (he is African-American) could help him and lavishing praise on Ron Paul (despite those old newsletters). At the very least, a prominent campaign could give Broden good name recognition for another run. Broden recently clinched the Republican nomination in a runoff against Dallas lawyer Sheldon Goldstein.

Competitive But Needing Help (Adam Kokesh, R-NM-03)

The Republican Party decision that Kokesh needed more signatures to get on the ballot appears to have hurt the campaign. Although Kokesh raised 57k in the 1st quarter for his race (a nice sum in such a blue district), he only has 12k on hand. Essentially, the campaign is almost out of money, which isn't good in a contested primary.

Sometimes Patriotism and Politics Don't Mix (RJ Harris-R-OK-04)

Constitutional conservative RJ Harris has hit a roadbump in his bid to primary Republican Rep. Tom Cole. A member of the Oklahoma National Guard, Harris has received orders to deploy to Afghanistan this summer for one year. While it is true a military record is good for a campaign, this is a net negative for RJ. He needs to build name recognition when attempting to take on an incumbent, so being away in a foreign country is not a good way to do it. Nevertheless, one must applaud Harris for the willingness to deploy in the thick of his campaign.

US SENATE

Good Time (Rand Paul, R-KEN)

Rand Paul must be having an amazing time right now. Earlier this week a new Survey USA poll had Paul with a dominating lead over Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson in the Republican primary, despite the latter's negative campaign as of late. (Paul leads 45-30 with 19% undecided) Interestingly, the Democratic race continues to be fluid with moderate Attorney General Jack Conway catching back up to conservative Lieutenant Governor Dan Mongiardo.

Rand Paul's good news kept coming though. Senator Jim Bunning, who currently holds the seat, has endorsed Rand Paul to succeed him (Bunning's rival McConnell backs Grayson in the race). This should help Paul in North Kentucky, Bunning's stronghold.

Finally, it doesn't hurt when Grayson says Sarah Palin is unqualified to be president in a conservative state (You Betcha!)

Heated primary (John Hostettler, R-IN)

Former Representative John Hostettler's campaign has gotten a few encouraging sparks recently. First, an internal poll was leaked showing Hostettler at 26% and former Senator Dan Coats at 29% in the Republican primary. The only problem? We don't know WHICH camp released the data. If it was Coats' camp, expect Hostettler to be doing better. If it was Hostettler, then Coats would be higher. We just don't know and really need a scientific poll!

Also, Representative Ron Paul has endorsed John Hostettler in the Republican primary. This could help Hostettler with his historically anemic funding.

PRESIDENT

Gaining strength (Ron Paul, R-TX)

No, he hasn't announced yet. But that hasn't stopped him polling competitively with Barack Obama. A recent Rasmussen poll pegs Obama v Paul at 42-41, within the margin of error. No other Republican has polled this well against President Obama. Still, pollster Nate Silver points out the flaws of this survey. Rasmussen has a Republican House effect, inflating Paul's numbers to within 1 rather than the more realistic 10. (An older poll from Public Policy Polling, a bit more credible, verifies this with Paul running behind at 46-38).

Still, we can take some important lessons from the poll. Ron Paul underperforms with the Republican base compared to other fellow GOP'ers. Second, he dominates the independent vote against Obama. Finally, his crossover to Democrats beats Obama's crossover to Republicans.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Postmortem on SRLC

This past Friday and Saturday, the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC) was held in New Orleans. During that event, a straw poll was open to gauge support for various potential candidates in 2012 for the Republican nomination. A poll by Wilson Research Strategies (who did some initial polling for the Peter Schiff campaign months ago)asked these two questions of credentialed delegates:


If the primary election for president were held today, for whom would you vote? Please check the box by the candidate of your choice.

Newt Gingrich 18%
Mike Huckabee 4%
Gary Johnson 1%
Sarah Palin 18%
Ron Paul 24% (438 votes)
Tim Pawlenty 3%
Mike Pence 3%
Mitt Romney 24% (439 votes)
Rick Santorum 2%

2. Who would be your second choice in the Republican Primary Election for president?

Newt Gingrich 19%
Mike Huckabee 10%
Gary Johnson 6%
Sarah Palin 18%
Ron Paul 5%
Tim Pawlenty 6%
Mike Pence 8%
Mitt Romney 13%
Rick Santorum 7%


I have bolded the two candidates of interest for this blog. First, Ron Paul.

Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty made an effort to win this event, securing 600 tickets to SRLC that were eventually free to those who wished to attend. A group affiliated with Mitt Romney (who declined to name a fundraising source, which I am sure is close to the multimillionaire) similarly secured 200 tickets and copies of Romney's book for every delegate. Thus, a clash of titans was set.

Notice the close results on the first pick for president between Romeny and Paul, a statistical tie. This essentially serves as a gauge of activist potential- both Romney and Paul have sophisticated organizations to take them into the presidential race.

But more importantly for Paul, check out his weak showing for second picks. In fact, for 2nd place pick, Dr. Paul had the LOWEST support with 5%. What this basically means is that Ron Paul has an independent constituency in the Republican Party- its overlap doesn't extend as far with other Republicans. Looking strategically, Ron Paul needs to have a crowded race with more establishment Republicans splitting votes. Otherwise, a Palin, Gingrich, or Romney when one of them dropped out could consolidate a massive lead over the eccentric Paul. The only hope for a Ron Paul presidential bid is to come out in 2012 with strong showings in Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. The deeper in the race he gets, the harder time he will have with less opposition. Kinda ironic, huh?

Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, meanwhile has much more anemic numbers. He pulled 1%, or 3 votes, in the 1st place preferential poll. However, his 2nd place presidential preference poll shows him with 6% support. This probably confirms the obvious: Gary Johnson can compete when he gets the Ron Paul supporters, who more than likely threw Johnson many 2nd place votes.

This also teaches a key lesson though for 2012: Johnson and Paul cannot be both running by the time we get to Iowa. Paul has to have enough support to be competitive later on, and Johnson cannot survive without a base of support that the Paulistas can provide.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Liberty Ticker, 4/9/10

Lots of info to catch up on! There are lots of topics that need to be refreshed, so we'll try to get back up to speed.

LOCAL

Runoff time (Holly Turner, R-TX-STATE HOUSE)

I have been beset by messages urging liberty lovers to support Holly Turner in a runoff with another Republican in Texas House District 47. She has had many prominent endorsements, including Right-to-Life, Mike Huckabee, the Republican Liberty Caucus,and a statewide libertarian organization whose name eludes me at the moment.

The runoff has gotten extremely heated. Turner has criticized Paul Workman, the opponent, for not using E-Verify, a program to allow employers to check citizenship of employees in a federal database (the program is fiercely argued by conservatives, pitting their rejection of illegal immigration against the right to privacy by an intrusive government database). Workman has criticized Turner for not living in Austin very long and not voting for 5 straight elections before 2008. other attacks abound, so I would check them out! The runoff is April 13th.

It's official (Glen Bradley, R-NC-State House)

It is official: In the race for General Assembly Seat 49 in the state of North Carolina, incumbent Lucy Allen is out. The article acknowledges that the seat "could flip", and mentions Bradley by name.

We have a winner(Romaine Quinn, R-Mayor, Rice Lake Wisconsin)

It appears that 19 year old Romaine Quinn has won the title of Mayor of Rice Lake, Wisconsin. He takes political science classes at a nearby university. In addition, he was a city councillor for a full year before winning this new post in a close race, 53% to 47% for the incumbent.

Quinn cites Ron Paul as his political role model. The major issue in the race was sidewalks- the city began taking property from citizens in order to build unwanted sidewalks. After public outcry, the city council refused to step down with the project (excepting for Quinn).

GOVERNOR

More time never hurt (Mike Munger, L-NC)

It appears that Dr. Mike Munger will give up his chairmanship of the Political Science department at Duke University. He held the post for three terms.

Munger was the 2008 Libertarian Party nominee for US Senate in North Carolina. He took 2.85% of the vote in that election with 121,000 votes. While this does not seem very significant, it is actually quite astounding considering that North Carolina is one of the worst states to attempt to attain ballot access in. An expensive petition that drained party coffers was required to hit the 100,000 needed petitions. In addition, North Carolina has straight ticket voting if you want it, which in my experience hurts independent and third party candidates.

Now, Munger can capitalize on the experience and increased name recognition from his last run (he was the first third party candidate in North Carolina to participate in gubernatorial debates- ever). And his run was good enough to get the LP in North Carolina auto ballot access, meaning he won't have to pay for it. This recent news may give him more time to campaign. Expect a perfect Munger storm.

Too much red (Randy Brogdon, R-OK)

State Senator Randy Brogdon of Oklahoma has a big problem. Oklahoma is so deeply Republican and conservative that he is finding it difficult to use the Tea Party to overtake his opponent, US Representative and former Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin.

If Brogdon can get past this primary, the election should be a cakewalk. The Democratic incumbent is term-limited out of office, it is a Republican year in 2010 with Tea Parties run amok, and he is a Republican in Oklahoma.

He does have one advantage: it appears his opponent, Fallin, voted for the bailout. In addition, he is an effective legislator, passing the Oklahoma Firearms Freedom Act. Brogdon is also a ballot access reform supporter, an issue near and dear to my heart to maintain procedural integrity in our government.

All in all, Brogdon has launched a credible challenge to Fallin, but he urgently needs to up his support if he is going to win it out in the primary.

(Note: one of the articles linked above also gives press to RJ Harris, a constitutional Republican attempting to primary Republican Tom Cole in the 4th district. He has similar problems as Brogdon.)

US HOUSE

Surprise! (Linda Goldthorpe, R-MI-01)

It appears that Bart Stupak, the infamous pro-life pro healthcare reform Democrat, has decided to retire after his term ends. The candidate faced fierce opposition from both the right and the left.

There is a Ron Paul supporting candidate in the race, Linda Goldthorpe. However, she faces substantial opposition in the primary, particularly from Dr. Dan Benishek at the moment. Of course, we must expect the number of candidates, for both Democrats and Republicans, to skyrocket. This could mean bigger names entering the arena, like the Republican House Minority leader in Michigan Kevin Elsenheimer. Expect this race to lean Republican in the general election.

PRESIDENT

SRLC (Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, R- TX and NM)

The Southern Republican Leadership Conference is going on now in New Orleans. Voting for the presidential straw poll opens tomorrow. This event is only upstaged by the annual CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference). Many see Paul as having to win the straw poll to prove his upset win at CPAC as legitimate. There are fears from many (particularly Romney Backers) that with his scooping up 600 tickets through the Campaign for Liberty Ron will sweep this poll too. Paul is a speaker at the SRLC.

Also speaking tonight was Gary Johnson, who addressed a group of about 50 people. I wouldn't expect Gary to come close to winning, but an interesting fact is that the ballot will have an option to pick a 2nd pick. This was not available at CPAC, and I bet many Paulistas will take the opportunity to pick Johnson as #2.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Liberty Ticker, 3/30/10

Welcome to the third edition of the Liberty Ticker! My trip had come up on me much faster than planned, so unfortunately the health care series was delayed. Nevertheless, I do have the first installment in that coming soon. Until then, enjoy some interesting political scoops!

BTW, today is the last day for your donations to count for the campaign finance quarter for your favorite candidates! Candidates need a strong financial showing each quarter to show they can raise the money to win. So give them some support!

STATE HOUSE

Breakthrough (Glen Bradley, R-NC State House)

Glen Bradley, Vice Chairman of the Franklin County Republican Party in North Carolina and a Ron Paul Republican, has had a breakthrough in his race. Early rumors indicate that the incumbent, Democrat Lucy Allen, may be withdrawing from the race because she has accepted an appointment from Governor Perdue in her administration. Of course, this does not mean there will not be a new Democratic opponent. However, this does change the race in two ways- 1) the Democrat will not have the established name recognition of the incumbent and 2) the state GOP may turn to help out in the race a bit more willingly. We will keep you posted on further developments with this story.

US HOUSE

Welcome endorsement (BJ Lawson, R-NC-04)
This is a bit unusual in a relatively solid Democratic seat, but it appears that Walter Jones, a Republican congressman in North Carolina, has endorsed BJ Lawson in the Republican Primary in the 4th district for incumbent David Price's seat. Jones is a bit of an iconoclast Republican himself, speaking out against foreign intervention in Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, BJ Lawson is participating in a series of summits on health care reform during the beginining of this month in North Carolina, hosted by GOP physicians running for Congress in that state.

Pre-emptive Strike (Joe Tegerdine, R-MS-04)

It looks like Joe Tegerdine's primary opponent is posturing to claim the states' rights crowd in the district. State Rep. Steven Palazzo has introduced a bill re-affirming Mississippi's sovereignty under the 10th Amendment. This tactic has worked effectively for GOP politicians seeking to win elections, particularly Governor Rick Perry's fierce federalist rhetoric in Texas.

Raking it in (John Dennis, R-CA-08)

John Dennis is attempting to do the impossible: oust Nancy Pelosi from her congressional stronghold in San Francisco. Last year, she wiped out the competition that included independent anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan (17%), Republican Dana Walsh (9%) and Libertarian birther Philip Berg (2%). So it is with this backdrop Dennis has been running against Pelosi.

However, Dennis has been running a very prominent campaign. A poll (of questionable veracity from a relatively unknown firm) puts John Dennis at 22% with low name recognition. This figure is somehow hard to believe. The SF Chronicle notes that Dennis has been exploiting the health care reform package backed by Pelosi to fundraise like crazy. The article notes that around January 1st, Dennis only had $12,000. By the end of this campaign finance quarter (ending today), he is slated to have a whopping $283,000.

Alot of this is because Dennis has done the legwork to get attention. In the past six weeks, he has done over seventy radio interviews in the runup to the health care vote. In addition, he has done the traditional campaigning of knocking on doors and soliciting votes. However, his more socially liberal positions and antiwar attitude has earned him tough competition in a primary with Dana Walsh, the 2008 nominee. She had over $100,000 in the bank before January and is slated to have $1 million at the end of the quarter. With a prominent primary and tea party anger, anything could happen.

US SENATE

9/11 Never Dies (Rand Paul, R-KEN)

The spectre of 9/11 simply will not disappear from Republican politics. Trey Grayson, Rand Paul's establishment opponent for the nod to succeed Jim Bunning in the Republican primary, has released a new ad criticizing Rand on 9/11. It splices together words from Rand, his father Dr. Ron Paul, and Reverend Jeremiah Wright. The effect is to make the theory of blowback appear to be a radical idea, and in effect Rand Paul too. Rand Paul answered back with his own ad accusing Trey Grayson of being dishonest in his manipulation of Paul's position. Grayson stands by the ad, saying it is a legitimate attack on Rand Paul's position on the cause of 9/11.

On the air (Peter Schiff, R-CT)

Peter Schiff, a Republican and investment guru in the race to succeed Chris Dodd has come out with a new ad in the Connecticut Senate race. The interesting thing is that Schiff does NOT mention he is a Republican. The ad buy is $500,000 for two weeks.

Also of note, a Schiff aide has noted the candidate does plan to run in the Republican primary regardless if he has sufficient support at the state convention for his party or not. Maybe that explains the lack of an (R) in the ad...

Rocking Indiana (John Hostettler, R-IN)

John Hostettler's campaign continues to gain momentum in the race to succeed Evan Bayh in the Senate as he hosts townhalls throughout the state. His bid has apparently been bolstered by likely Democratic nominee Brad Ellsworth's yes vote on health care reform last week in reddish Indiana. A new Rasmussen poll stakes Hostettler to a 50-32 lead against Ellsworth, outperforming perceived frontrunner Dan Coats (who leads with 49-34 to Ellsworth).

The wildcards in the primary are numerous: Dan Coats, the former lobbyist, has consolidated the establishment support, Hostettler has the illegal immigration hawks consolidated (he recently received an endorsement from the minutemen and before that Tom Tancredo's PAC), and Marlin Stutzman has South Carolina Senator and arch-conservative Jim Demint's support. Hostettler and Stutzman have significant tea party support but there is also another tea partier in the race. We need a primary poll, stat!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Liberty Ticker, 3/22/10

Hi folks, welcome to our second edition of The Liberty Ticker! Note that due to my travels across the state of Texas there will be no update from Tuesday-Saturday. Today we have a scattering of analysis from races around the country. We will also start a small series on healthcare, with the first post intended to come tonight. Stay tuned!

US HOUSE

Frontrunner in a Swing District? (Ann Marie Buerkle, R-NY-25)

A big surprise in New York. It looks like there may be a Ron Paul supporter who is leading a US House race in New York. Ann Marie Buerkle is a nurse, former New York assistant Attorney General, and former Syracuse Common Councillor. She is taking on the incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei. This article claims she worked on Ron Paul's presidential campaign in 2008. In addition, she is endorsed by a prominent central New York Ron Paul Republican, David Gay (Gay now appears to be running for the state house in New York).

Buerkle is running a legimate bid. She has already been endorsed by the local Republican and Conservative Party organizations. And with Maffei's recent yes vote on health care, she may have gotten a boost in this district. The district has a slight edge in Democratic voter registration. Buerkle's biggest obstacle will probably be funding, unless she can get national attention in her bid. However, Maffei has thus far proven to be a prolific fundraiser.

Woops! (Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA and Jim Duncan, R-TN)

Chalk this one up in the "My bad!" corner. Dana Rohrabacher, John Duncan, and Tom McClintock have come out claiming the GOP now knows the Iraq War was a mistake and stated they are against the buildup in Afghanistan. Rohrabacher actually did vote for the Iraq War, while McClintock was not in office at the time. Both are considered to lean libertarian, but they have significant caveats to that label. John Duncan is probably the most consistent in the area of nonintervention.

Don't forget me! (Linda Goldthorpe, R-MI-01)
Bart Stupak recently sent shockwaves across the political world when he cut a deal with the Obama administration and voted for the health care reform package. Conservatives, angered at his perceived betrayal of the pro-life movement, have suddenly flocked to (and funded) a formerly obscure GOP opponent of Stupak named Dr. Dan Benishek. His facebook page now has over 13,000 fans, but his website is still not up.

However, Linda Goldthorpe has been in this race since the end of the 2008 election. After modifying her message a bit, she has been actively campaigning for the Republican nomination. Nevertheless, she is considered an outright Ron Paul Republican. With Benishek's recent surge in support, her attempts to secure a bid to take on Stupak could be sidelined in obscurity.

Last Man Standing (David Krikorian, D-OH-02)

David Krikorian is the last prominent Democratic candidate left against incumbent Republican Jean Schmidt, who voted for the Bush bailout in 2008. Krikorian's primary opponent, state representative Todd Book, has withdrawn from the race. Still, other opponents may enter if the opportunity seems available. A Libertarian has also filed in the race.

Krikorian ran as an independent in 2008 in the district, securing 18% of the vote on a platform of fiscal conservatism, social liberalism, and non-intervention abroad. While that number appears low, it is a quite formidable accomplishment when acting outside of the two major parties. His campaign for the Democratic nomination is an attempt to remedy that barrier to success. Krikorian recently came out in favor of the health care reform package passed yesterday.

SENATOR

A mess (Chuck Devore and Tom Campbell, R-CAL)

Many libertarian types looking into this race may be a bit confused. Tom Campbell, the former US Representative, appears to have taken stances against foreign aid to Israel and is a social moderate on issues like gay marriage. However, state assemblyman Chuck Devore, while appearing to be more fiscally conservative, is somewhat more hawkish on military matters and much more socially conservative.

Either way, Devore has been struggling to gain ground against Campbell and former HP CEO Carly Fiorina. Campbell is the clear frontrunner in the race and polls close to Democratic incumbent Barbara Boxer.

Helping Hands (Rand Paul, R-Kentucky)

Rand Paul is lending a hand to his fellow Republican candidates. Rand Paul spoke outside of Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth's office today. Yarmuth voted in favor of the health care reform package yesterday. Rand Paul also recently campaigned against Democratic Rep. Ben Chandler. As the frontrunner in the race, Paul appears to be making a move to position himself as a unifying candidate for the Republican Party in Kentucky.

GOVERNOR

National Endorsements (Nikki Haley, R-SC)

State Representative Nikki Haley has received the endorsement of Mitt Romney in her bid to become the next governor of South Carolina. The impact of the endorsement is unclear, as many of her competitors have also received endorsements from 2008 presidential candidates (McCain for McMaster, Fred Thompson for Barrett, and Mike Huckabee for Bauer). Each endorsee appears to have been connected to the endorsing presidential campaign. Still, it gives her race a bit of national attention. There have also been rumors of an upcoming Ron Paul endorsement.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Ticker, 3/19/10

We’re mostly hitting some of the more prominent campaigns in this first edition of The Liberty Ticker. As we move along, I’ll be profiling less well-known campaigns that still have a good shot at electoral significance. Until then, catch up with some of these campaigns.

US HOUSE

Still A Chance (Adam Kokesh, R-NM-03)

Adam Kokesh, the antiwar Republican activist, recently attained 19.5% support at the controversial New Mexico GOP endorsements convention. The vote taken here was significant, as candidates who polled 20% or more will have to gather fewer signatures to make the primary ballot than their less fortunate counterparts. However, it is likely the continued effort by the New Mexico Republican Party to keep Kokesh off the ballot is illegal, as it just so happens a Democrat had a similar situation at his party’s convention and unveiled an obscure rounding law which indicates the party must round the result UP to 20. More will come on this drama, as the Kokesh camp has until March 23rd to turn in their signatures.

In other Kokesh news, the British newspaper The Guardian has an excellent rebuttal of Michelle Malkin’s recent attempts to smear Adam Kokesh.

It’s a start! (John Anderson, L-OH-07)

Richard Winger at ballot-access news reports that John Anderson, an Ohio Libertarian, will invest $100,000 of his own money in a campaign for the US House. This is a fairly substantial sum for any House campaign, and does not include contributions from other individuals. The incumbent, Republican Steven Austria, was first elected in 2008. Anderson’s website will be coming this month.

US SENATE

Finally! (Peter Schiff, R-CT)

Investment guru Peter Schiff, famed on Youtube for predicting the economic crisis, has finally begun advertising. The campaign recently released an ad touting Schiff’s economic experience and his status as an “outsider” to Washington.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll has Schiff at 9% in the primary right now, behind WWE executive Linda McMahon with 44% and former US Representative Rob Simmons with 34%. However, Schiff also had low name recognition (the impetus for advertising), making him a wildcard in the race.

Break away(Rand Paul, R-KY)

The open seat race for Jim Bunning’s Senate seat continues to heat up. Currently, the Republicans are caught in a close primary between Rand Paul, founder of Kentucky Taxpayers United and son of US Representative Ron Paul, and Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson.
However, Paul’s support now appears to be surging. He leads Grayson by a 12 point margin in the most recent polling conducted on the race, and both Democrats by margins of between 6 and 9 points. The lead, reinforced by a previous SurveyUSA poll, has forced Trey Graysonto begin running a negative ad campaign and caused rumbles in the Republican establishment.

GOVERNOR

Rumbles in Georgia (Ray Mcberry, R-GA)

Ray McBerry’s campaign to be governor of Georgia hasn’t had smooth sailing lately. Accusations of misconduct with a minor, an affair with a campaign manager, and refusal to salute the American flag have been thrown at McBerry. The candidate responded to all of the criticism here (essentially, he denies the first two charges and qualifies the third, saluting the American flag). Nevertheless, this doesn’t bode well for the campaign, which recent polling pegs at 2% in the Republican primary.

PRESIDENT

It’s only just begun (Gary Johnson, R-NM)
Former Governor Gary Johnson has been testing the waters for a Republican Presidential run in 2012. He recently appeared on Bill Maher. In addition, Johnson has been touring battleground states with his Our America PAC, including Michigan and Missouri. Johnson is well-known for his outspoken opposition to the Drug War and fiscal conservatism. Most announcements of "exploring a bid for President" will be coming during summer or late next year.