In what some will inevitably call a confirmation of reports that the Libertarian Party of California is under the influence of Republicans, the LPCA Executive Committee today voted by email to replace its representative to the Libertarian National Committee with former Republican congressman Tom Campbell.
Campbell has been fading in the latest Field Poll of his race for the 2010 Republican nomination to the California governorship, where he faces Silicon Valley multimillionaires Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner. His move to the LNC was in some ways an echo of when former Georgia congressman Bob Barr joined the LNC in 2006, two years before seeking and winning the LP nomination for President. Campbell last year resigned as Dean of Berkeley's Business School, and during his gubernatorial campaign he has taken a visiting appointment at Chapman Law School.
Campbell trained as an economist at the University of Chicago under the Nobel-Prize-winning libertarian Milton Friedman. While in Congress, Campbell was a strong supporter of gay rights and abortion rights, and in 1999 led a lawsuit against President Clinton for fighting an undeclared war in Kosovo. However, despite his ideological credentials as a small-L libertarian, Campbell will reportedly not be formally joining the LP as a dues-payer. He apparently is not yet giving up on his long-shot bid for the CAGOP gubernatorial nomination, and a recent opinion from the LP Judicial Committee cleared the way for a Republican like Campbell to attempt a fusion strategy, keeping a foot in each of the LP and GOP. Campbell might be hoping that if by chance he wins the nomination, the LPCA would not run a candidate against him and cost him a crucial percentage point or two.
The LP Judicial Committee issued an advisory last week that the LP Bylaw about LNC qualifications is merely a guideline, and that enforcement of this guideline must be effected by a discretionary vote of whatever body has authority to replace an LNC representative. Opponents of Republican influence on the LP will perhaps attempt to claim standing to challenge Campbell's qualifications, but the Judicial Committee seemed unlikely to reverse its advice that the appointing body has discretion about how the qualifications are enforced.