Libertarians to Select Presidential Ticket
Three Candidates Actively Seeking Nomination
Convention Outcome

[Posted May 18, 2004] More than eight hundred Libertarians from around the country are expected to gather in Atlanta, Georgia this Memorial Day weekend for the party's 2004 national convention to be held May 27-31, 2004 at the Marriott Marquis.  Actively seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination are Gary Nolan, a radio talk show host from Cleveland, Ohio; Aaron Russo, who has produced a couple of major motion pictures ("The Rose" starring Bette Midler, and "Trading Places" starring Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy); and Michael Badnarik, a computer programmer from Austin, Texas.  An article in the May 2004 LP News, the official monthly newspaper of the Libertarian Party, describes the race as "the most hotly contested presidential nomination fight in two decades."  Other candidates include Jim Burns, Jeffrey Diket, Dave Hollist and Ruben Perez.

Delegates to the national convention are allocated among the 50 states and DC based on the number of members belonging to each state party and to a lesser extent on the 2000 vote.  Candidates need to obtain signatures from 30 delegates to be placed in nomination.  On Saturday May 29, 2004 qualifying candidates will engage in a presidential debate.

Websites of the three active LP presidential candidates.

Gary Nolan has been seen as something of a frontrunner; he filed papers with the Federal Election Commission establishing an exploratory committee on January 17, 2003.  Since then he has made the rounds at state LP conventions, done many talk radio appearances and held small town hall meetings.  He has "raised more money than all the other campaigns combined."  He won nonbinding primaries in Wisconsin, California, Massachusetts and Missouri.  In his column in the May 2004 issue of Libertarian News, Nolan writes that his experience as a talk show host as gives him the skills "to relate to listeners and present libertarian ideas in ways that are interesting and entertaining."  (see also May 2003 interview).

Aaron Russo, by contrast, began his campaign in December 2003 and formally announced on January 24, 2004.  In his column in the May 2004 issue of Libertarian News, Russo notes that the Libertarian Party has met with "three decades of failure at the presidential level."  He writes, "I've made my career as a promoter and producer.  The key element in that that I've had to learn how to popularize an idea--to get people to pay attention to it, pull out their wallets and shell out money to participate in it and, most of all invest themselves in it, rather than simply represent it to those who already share it."  In 1998 he ran for Governor of Nevada and gained 26% of the vote in a four-way race for the Republican nomination.  Russo's "mini-celebrity" status and a professional campaign put together under the direction of Stephen Gordon, Alabama LP Vice Chair, may give him an edge.  He has produced a two television spots and his website, complete with a blog, is probably the best-designed of any of the three candidates'.  He has won straw polls at state conventions in California, North Carolina and New York as well as the final Cass County (MO) Libertarian Party online straw poll.

Michael Badnarik announced his exploratory committee on November 17, 2002, presenting as his motto "Lighting the fires of Liberty, one heart at a time!"  He wrote that he was persuaded into the effort by "close friends (?) in the Travis County Libertarian Party, who flattered me by saying that I am one of the best Libertarian speakers that they know."  Badnarik earned 2.25% of the vote in a 2002 race for State Representative in Texas.  Badnarik has campaigned at more than a dozen state conventions this year; during his travels he also teaches an eight-hour class on the Constitution and sells copies of his book "It's Good to be King!"  He is a member of the Free State Project, under which 20,000 or more "liberty-oriented people" will move to New Hampshire to create "a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of life, liberty, and property."  Badnarik wrote on his website that, "I will relocate to New Hampshire as promised.  I plan to wait until after the 2004 election because my attention span can't be stretched any further than it already is."

 In addition to choosing the presidential ticket, delegates will consider a reformatted platform, attend workshops, select the party's national officers, and hear from an array of speakers.  All four of the party's officers are stepping down.  Michael Dixon, Ernest Hancock, George Phillies are seeking to succeed National Chair Geoffrey Neale of Bee Cave, Texas.  Libertarians will also mark the loss of political director Ron Crickenberger, who died in January 2004 of cancer.

Libertarian presidential candidates have had little success since 1980, when Ed Clark and Dave Koch obtained 921,199 votes.  In the five succeeding elections the LP presidential ticket has not reached a half a million votes.  Membership in the Libertarian Party has been flat in recent years; the party reported 20,967 members at the end of March 2004.  According the party's web site, Libertarians hold 606 public offices around the country.  However most of these are obscure positions such as Bisbee (AZ) Board of Adjustment or Victory Township (IA) Board of Trustees.

Results for Past Libertarian Presidential Tickets
2000 Harry Browne/Art Olivier 50+DC 384,431  (.36%)
1996 Harry Browne/ Jo Jorgensen 50+DC 485,798  (.50%)
1992 Andre Marrou/Nancy Lord 50+DC 291,627
1988 Ron Paul/Andre Marrou 46+DC 432,297
1984 David Bergland/Jim Lewis 39+DC 228,705
1980 Ed Clark/Dave Koch 50+DC 921,199
1976 Roger MacBride/David Bergland 32 174,199
1972 John Hospers/Tonie Nathan 2 3,907

More Links

Libertarian Party Cass County (MO) LP Straw Poll
David Hollist Jeff Diket (LA)
Tamara Millay (MO) Richard Campagna (IA) Charles Jay (IN)

Also, ads from the May 2004 Libertarian Party News:
Gary Nolan
Aaron Russo
Jim Burns

Copyright © 2004  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action.