Steve G.

Susan Hogarth on Barr and Ballot Access

In Libertarian, Libertarian Politics on June 4, 2008 at 3:27 pm

The information below is reprinted with the authorization of its author, Susan Hogarth.

Did anyone else notice that the recent LP HQ email came from Barr and asked for money for ballot access – but asked for people to donate directly the the Barr campaign?

I’m wondering about the pros/cons of that approach. I suppose it makes the LP in general look stronger if our pres nominee is visibly bringing in more money (which is one reason I wish they’d ditch the
web-counter until and unless they start getting some pretty enthusiastic fundraising to build on).

The email (‘from the desk of Bob Barr’) includes these two bullet points:

• I just talked with Chairman Bill Redpath: by his analysis, we’ll need more than $200,000 to petition and secure ballot access in 48 states.
• In order to move forward with full, 50 state ballot access, we’ll need to begin to petition immediately in Oklahoma and West Virginia and raise at least $300,000 more to pay petitioners.

It’s not clear to me whether he means the LP needs 200K for 48 states PLUS another 300K for OK and WVA, or only an additional 100K for OK and WVA. But in any case, this actually won’t give the LP ‘ballot access’ in OK, as I understand it. The best than can be accomplished is getting Barr on the OK ballot as an independent. I’m not sure I want to pour money into an effort to get Barr on the OK ballot *as an independent*, which apparently is what they’re working on:

http://blog.bobbarr2008.com/2008/05/30/oklahoma-lp-begins-ballot-access-drive-for-barr/

and

http://www.oklp.org/

I’m don’t care for this strategy because I don’t see it as the best use of funds after the LP already poured tons of money into OK, then gave up on it. Also, while it may get more votes for Barr, it won’t really help other LP candidates (or, more importantly, Libertarian voters) as far as I can tell, and apparently Barr will be listed as an “Independent”. Even this would be OK with me except that I’m not convinced they can actually get it done – at least not without seriously hampering their efforts in other states.

Back-of-the-envelop: they’ll need 60K sigs in about 40 days, which is 1,500 signatures per day, which will take about $2-3K or more per day. Doable, certainly, but at the rate Barr is fundraising that’s committing a major chunk of what he is bringing in.

Frankly, I am not sure why more people aren’t making an issue of this. Tying Barr to the national LP for *LP* ballot access is certainly a reasonable strategy, but asking people from the LP mailing list to send Barr’s campaign for money to get “full, 50 state ballot access” when in fact the LP *won’t* be getting that seems just a little bit dodgy to me.

My preference would be for the LP to concentrate on raising money itself or in tandem with the Barr campaign for the original 48-state plan, and let Barr (and the OK LP, if they wish) pitch separately for
the OK effort.

I wonder if there has been discussion on the LNC about this strategy and the LP’s support of it.

  1. Well said Susan.

  2. Isn’t Okla. the state where Paul Jacob was arrested for being an out of state petitioner? Given the huge cost of petitioning there, and being forced to hire only residents, maybe the LP should forget about Okla. and later bring a test case or something to overturn the onerous laws that one state out of 50 imposes on non-major party candidates.

  3. I assume that the Barr campaign is working in coordination with the LNC on the ballot-access front (hasn’t the complaint all along been that the LNC is Barr’s lapdogs?). As I recall from past Presidential campaigns, it’s pretty much S.O.P. for the candidates to make ballot access a focus in their own fundraising appeals. I’m perfectly happy with those people uncomfortable with Barr making ballot access donations directly to the LP instead, of course.

  4. I assume that the Barr campaign is working in coordination with the LNC on the ballot-access front…

    As do I, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m just not particularly pleased to see the decision to go after Independent status for Barr (rather than LP ballot access) in OK being pushed as ‘ballot access for the LP’, by national. It’s really ‘ballot access for Barr only’ as far as I can tell. And, of course, it does seem like a high-risk (or at least high-cost) strategy.

    I know it’s easy to second-guess these decision to death, and that wasn’t particularly my intent. I was just surprised that no one *does* seem to be discussing this right now, and that the focus is on OK, where Barr will not even be balloted as a Libertarian if he gets a spot at all.

    I’m perfectly happy with those people uncomfortable with Barr making ballot access donations directly to the LP instead, of course.

    And this is something I’d like to know: if any LP funds are going toward the OK effort.

  5. I do agree that the “psychological effect” of the 50-state magic number isn’t a huge deal for me… and I’d rather see a stronger campaign in 48 states, rather than a ton of resources thrown at a state where the ballot-access laws are too draconian. I can live with the contrarian viewpoint as well, although I agree that it isn’t discussed enough.

  6. This is the same as in the past when we received letters from Harry Brown from the LP. Barr is now the party’s nominee. It is reasonable Barr is helping the party raise money and vice-versa.

    If Barr is going to make a serious run at it, then his goal should be 50 state ballot access. It can be done. It costs money, but typically LP donors have given money for ballot access. The more serious the candidate the more willing they are to donate as seen by the record breaking banquet at the LP Convention.

  7. Perkins claims: “As I recall from past Presidential campaigns, it’s pretty much S.O.P. for the candidates to make ballot access a focus in their own fundraising appeals.”

    Let’s see some data here. How much did Harry Browne or Mike Badnarik raise and spend through their own FEC accounts on ballot access?

  8. Heh, oh god this is so sad. Welcome to Badnarik ’06 part 2 – Electric Bugaloo

    Nothing like flushing well-intentioned libertarian dollars down the toilet by putting them in Barr’s private jet fund. Or maybe he can divert them toward some fellow republineocon candidates who are running against the LP.

    Boy oh boy😦

  9. Sheesh, George… I clearly said, “As I recall…”. That is, I’m referring to my own admittedly fallible memory. No, I did not store away in my attic all the letters that Andre Marrou sent me via snail mail back when I was in high school.

    As I said earlier, anyone uncomfortable with the Barr campaign should send ballot access contributions directly to the LP. I personally have sent more money to the LP than I have to the candidate this year, just as I’ve done in EVERY election year during my 16 years as a member. That’s not a knock against Barr or anything, that’s just because I’m all too accustomed to LP candidates using money foolishly. If Barr DOESN’T screw up the finances this year, he’ll deserve a Libertarian medal of honor as far as I’m concerned.

  10. If the LP needs funds for OK and WVA ballot access, then the LP should set up separate funds for those, independent of the LPUS general fund, and independent of the Barr/Root campaign funds, assuming that isn’t set up already.

    That would clear up the confusion considerably and make intentions for the funds and their uses perfectly clear.

    Anything else is muddled, and Susan has a leigitmate concern here.

  11. Steve Perkins wrote: “…If Barr DOESN’T screw up the finances this year, he’ll deserve a Libertarian medal of honor as far as I’m concerned.”

    Absolutely.

    Maybe LNC should form a subcommittee to handle the ballot access…put Hacker in charge…at least that might distract some of those now busy with ridiculing Barr/Root.🙂

    Or, just everyone be happy the campaign actively is seeking to make substantial investments in ballot access.

    As for the fact that it is an “independent” candidate petition…for past LP presidential runs, depending on the ballot access laws of each state, sometimes the option of going with an independent candidacy was the only viable way of getting on the ballot.

    It helps the LP to have the nominee on the ballot, although downticket LP candidates will not be on the ballot. It shows we can do it, energizes our own troops, and keeps up the fight.

    As for what the ballot access effort will cost, Oklahoma alone could cost well north of $200,000.00

  12. Badnarik sent some ballot access money to Pennsylvania in 2004.

    There are some states where it is considerably easier to qualify for the ballot as an independent than as a party — and even some where qualifying as an independent is the only option. I don’t fault the presidential candidate or the LNC for going for an independent line when it would save a significant sum of money.

    If we were rolling in cash we could go for the best possible ballot status in every state. Seeing as we are not, economic choices need to be made: Do we get on as an independent in three states or full party in one? Do we get on as an independent in one state and have a bunch of money left over to spend on outreach, staff, and the website, or do we get on as full party and forgo the extra expense on the other things?

  13. There are some states where it is considerably easier to qualify for the ballot as an independent than as a party — and even some where qualifying as an independent is the only option.

    I am unclear about the situation in Oklahoma. The sig requirement looks about the same, so I assume some Party deadline must have already passed, and Independent is the only option left?

  14. Does anybody know if Bob Barr plans on doing any campaigning with downticket LP candidates?

  15. Susan Hogarth wrote:

    I am unclear about the situation in Oklahoma. The sig requirement looks about the same, so I assume some Party deadline must have already passed, and Independent is the only option left?

    I don’t know. Ask Richard Winger… he is ballot access Yoda.

  16. A waste of money. Barr has access to over 500 EC votes, 270 wins. Spend the money on advertising in states in which a LP slate is running. Don’t give the nazi okies any LP money, make them suffer the ridicule for their unamerican practice.

    WHY spend $300,000 for 30,000 votes or less, it doesn’t add up ! Use the money more wisely ! It looks like he will need it elsewhere anyway with such slow fundraising…

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