April 17, 2006
A little Libertarian fantasy

We've all been reading articles on who the likely contenders for the Democratic and Republican nominations for President will be in 2008. Well, it turns out that not just the major parties have jockeying going on for those coveted positions. This Blogcritics post is one of a promised series on the Libertarian Party's hopefuls for 2008. The focus of this piece is Texas's Michael Badnarik, the 2004 LP candidate for President and current candidate for Congress in the 10th CD. The author believes that Badnarik's odds of repeating as the LP nominee in 2008 are tied to his performance this year.

Michael Badnarik, however, is not most LP congressional candidates.

Most LP congressional candidates haven't raised $200,000 for their campaigns before Memorial Day. Most LP congressional candidates haven't raised more than one of their two "major party" opponents. As a matter of fact, most LP congressional candidates haven't raised one tenth as much as Badnarik will have by Election Day. Most LP congressional candidates don't have billboards in high-traffic areas. Most LP congressional candidates don't have offices and full-time staff. And most LP congressional candidates haven't gone to a national convention broke, in third place, with a campaign staff consisting of two volunteers, and walked out of that convention with a presidential nomination.

If any Libertarian can win election to the US House of Representatives this year, it's Michael Badnarik (so far, the word is that Wisconsin's Ed Thompson won't be running, or I'd add him to the list right above Badnarik). But, barring a Thompson run, I don't think that any Libertarian can win a congressional race this year. I'll be ecstatic if Badnarik proves me wrong - and if he does, it won't be the first time.

Based on my prediction, Badnarik would be seeking the LP's nomination on the basis of a losing, but probably very credible - in the 20%+ range - performance in the congressional race. That could play either way: His performance could push him up, or the amount of money Libertarians contributed for a win they expected and didn't get could push him down.

If Michael Badnarik gets 20% of the vote in CD10 in November, I will write a check for $100 to the Tom DeLay legal defense fund. That's how sure I am that this is off base.

Let's put aside the fact that Badnarik got 38,787 votes - 0.52% of the total - in all of Texas in 2004, and that quite a few candidates for State Representative did better than that. As I discussed before, the reason that the Libertarian candidate did as well in CD10 as he did in 2004 is because there was no Democrat on the ballot. It doesn't matter that Badnarik can afford a few billboards on Highway 290. The straight-party Democratic vote alone, especially in Travis County, will be enough to put Ted Ankrum well ahead of Badnarik.

All of the statewide Democrats who were on the ballot in CD10 in 2004 got at least 38% of the vote. Assuming that the vote will be split as it was in 2004, with 3/8 in Harris County, 3/8 in Travis County, and the remaining 1/4 in between, Ankrum can match that total by getting 50% in Travis, 25% in Harris, and 40% in between. From where I sit, that's the bare minimum Ankrum should get - it's basically what the likes of JR Molina did in 2004. I fully expect him to approach 60% in Travis, which is about what the top performing Democrats did there in 2004, and which would put him at about 41-42% overall. There's still room for growth and optimism, but this is a realistic starting point.

My prediction is that Badnarik will get the usual amount that a Libertarian candidate in a race with both an R and a D gets, which means he'll be lucky to break 2%. Only four Lib candidates for Congress in Texas in 2004, out of 24 who ran against contenders from both major parties, did that well, with 2.99% being the top score. If that's your criteria for judging Badnarik's chances for being the LP standard bearer in 2008, you might want to reconsider.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2006 to Election 2006 | TrackBack

Distressing to see Badnarik's still the front-runner for the libertarians.

You're pretty well plugged into the Texas Lege, Kuff, any idea if anyone's pushing this here yet?

Posted by: ttrentham on April 17, 2006 12:14 PM

I think because of Badnarik's high name id that he will garner more than the usual libertarian.

Ill say 5%

Posted by: Right of Texas on April 17, 2006 12:46 PM

ttrentham - I've not heard anything on that. It's pretty much all school finance all the time right now, which is as it should be.

Right of Texas - Five percent is at least within the realm of possibility, but I'd dispute the idea that Badnarik has "name ID" outside of us junkies. I don't even recall seeing a Badnarik yard sign in 2004, and that's after having seen one for Harry Browne in my own neighborhood in 2000. Unless I see tangible evidence that he's spending real money on real advertising, I will assert that he'll get the standard level of LP support, which in Texas Congressional races is circa two percent.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on April 17, 2006 1:49 PM


Thanks for the response to my article.

You may be right. Maybe Badnarik can't pull 20%, +/-. If he can't, he's probably shot as an LP presidential nomination contender. He's raised big money by LP standards (and not especially bad money by "major party" standards), and he needs to have something to show for it in November.

I think, however, that he'll poll well above 2%, probably above 10%, and possibly in the 20% range.

Tom Knapp

Posted by: [email protected] on April 18, 2006 10:29 AM

Since Badnarik would be more likely to pull votes from McCaul than Ankrum, particularly in the Harris County portion of CD 10, this sounds like good news for Ankrum.

Posted by: Jeb on April 19, 2006 1:49 PM

Seems to me that the LP is growing in CD10. I've told several voters about him who live in that district covering Pflugerville and N. Austin, and they have already said that they would vote for him. People are tired of the so-called "2 party" system of corruption. Libertarian is the word, and it's gaining ground. People are comparing Badnarik to Ron Paul, one of the most liked representatives in Congress and in the Austin area. Badnarik would be a welcomed win and addition to Congress. Badnarik may shock all of you...

Posted by: raven on September 6, 2006 3:16 PM