Signal Intelligence About The LP

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

LP Officer Elections Analysis and Predictions

The Chair debate on Saturday evening produced no major surprises. Root made an impassioned plea for delegates to grow the party by bringing in new members who aren't as far along on their libertarian journeys as the delegates are. Root's closing statement was built around a sports analogy -- Canada's performance in the recent winter Olympics -- that seemed to fall somewhat flat with the audience.  Root opponents in the crowd loudly pounced when his answer to a question about immigration went on too long and he specifically criticized the open-borders position that the LP removed from its Platform in 2006. Myers handled this hot potato with a shorter answer that ended with a rousing call to end the welfare state and the war on drugs and open the borders -- effectively restating Root's position. Myers spoke well, but not well enough to put himself ahead of Hinkle as the leading unity candidate.  Hinkle emphasized his experience and his ability to work with all factions within the party, and managed to avoid being the least dynamic speaker of the evening.

Phillies' performance did not fully exhibit the speaking skills that he had honed in his 2008 presidential campaign.  On a couple of questions he awkwardly failed to end his answer on an applause line. When he said that Angela Keaton asking him was the reason he was running, it's not clear how many delegates knew who the absent Keaton is -- or that this was George's fourth or fifth consecutive campaign for Chair.  Phillies was able to reference his New Path Plan several times, but the debate format did not allow him to get into the details of it.

Hancock gave a spirited performance that was on track to avoid all the land mines that his critics had documented him planting in his own path.  He responded to Root's big-tent rhetoric by saying that newcomers "are welcome to join us, but are not welcome to change us".  Hancock's opponents had not mentioned either his advocacy against voting or his conspiracy theories, but Hancock himself alluded to both in his closing statement.  He talked about "the New World Order", and gave a lengthy justification for  why his 2006 Secretary of State campaign was built around the question "Still Voting?".

During the Chair nominations, Root followed good speeches by running-mate Rutherford and his daughter with an even better pitch for his own election.  For the first time in his Chair campaign, Root declared that as Chair the buck will stop with him: he will take responsibility for delivering results in membership, fundraising, and candidate support.  Both Myers and one of his nominators gave a very explicit plea to make Myers the delegates' second choice, and this probably was not a good strategy for claiming the unity vote from Hinkle.  Hinkle gave all his time to an impressive lineup of nominators, and LP founder David Nolan delivered a very well-received endorsement. In contrast to Root, Phillies was not nominated by his New Path Vice-Chair running mate, but rather by three supporters with LPMA connections.  New Path Secretary candidate Rob Power awkwardly attacked the sincerity of his fellow PlatCom member Chris Barber, who had sent a letter to delegates revealing that Phillies had filed a criminal complaint with the FEC against the LPUS.  Hancock's nominations were highlighted by a solid speech by Barry Hess.  2004 LP presidential nominee Michael Badnarik's speech would surely have been more effective if he had identified himself to the audience. Hancock himself merely said: "Freedom's the answer. What's the question?"

The first round of voting resulted in Root 200 (38%) Hinkle 113 (21%) Hancock 82 (15%) Myers 70 (13%) Phillies 56 (11%)  NOTA 10.  Phillies did not endorse any competitor, but Myers foresaw the inevitable and withdrew from the race while throwing his support to Hinkle.  Hancock's weakness actually played against Root's interests, as Root's only real hope for a post-first-ballot win was to face Hancock on the final ballot.  Before the second round I was agreeing with a Root supporter that a Hinkle victory was inevitable.  However, I did forecast a 20-25 vote pickup for Root, while David Nolan predicted 10, or maybe 20 at most.  The second round nevertheless helped confirm Hinkle's Saturday-night assertion that he was almost everybody's second choice: Root 223 Hinkle 210 Hancock 87 NOTA 0.  Hancock endorsed nobody, and said he had gotten what he wanted and had a backlog of activism to get back to.  The final ballot was surprising only in that there may have been as five Hancock supporters who switched to Root: Hinkle 281 Root 228 (43%) NOTA 19.

Hinkle gave a great post-election speech, saying he would be "requesting -- no, demanding" help from all of us to unite and advance the Party.  He gave no hint of endorsements in the remaining officer elections. David Nolan endorsed Carolyn Marbry for Vice Chair, but praised Mark Rutherford for also being an excellent candidate.  Rutherford's speech was brief, emphasizing he could work well with Hinkle. Marbry's speech was longer, listing the half-dozen state affiliates that she identified with. Rutherford's 285-201 victory seemed to echo the Chair result, with the delegates choosing an experienced party leader over a younger newcomer promising to bring new energy to the office.

Alicia Mattson had the inside track in the Secretary's race, as she had spent the morning once again smoothly handling the Platform debate in her capacity as PlatCom Chair.  Power was coming off a nominating speech for Phillies in which he had dug into the unpleasant matter of George's criminal complaint against the LP. Ruth Bennett tried to portray Power as someone who can work well with any faction in the Party, but she praised the competence of outgoing Secretary Sullentrup only moments before he glowingly endorsed Mattson.  Mattson coasted to a 264-195 win.

The biggest shock of the day was the very last result.  James Oaksun conceded that he had no complaints about how Aaron Starr had been executing the job of Treasurer -- even though we had just learned that the leader of his own New Path slate had filed a criminal complaint against the financial reporting of the LP's relationship with the Barr campaign.  Instead, Oaksun said that the reason he opposed Starr was because of LNC divisiveness that he said was caused by Starr. Oaksun's 319-133 victory suggested that the delegates did not believe that even incoming Chair Hinkle would be able to manage whatever conflicts that Starr would allegedly continue to cause.

The elections for the five At-Large LNC positions will be Monday morning.  Judge Jim Gray would coast to a top-three result if he didn't have a plane to catch, and so he will need stellar nominating speeches to finish in the money.  I predict the results will look something like this:

Bill Redpath
David Nolan
Wayne Root
Mary Ruwart
Rebecca Sink-Burris
John Jay Myers
Pat Dixon
Lee Wrights
Jim Gray
Thomas Hill

My rank preference is something like this: Redpath Root Gray Dixon Nolan Sink-Burris Myers.

P.S. None of my predictions in the Chair race were falsified, although in retrospect Root’s chances of a first-round win were probably less than 50%.  My predictions were:
  • Root has 50% chance of a first-ballot win.
  • Phillies and Myers are eliminated in the first two rounds.
  • If the “final” round is Root vs. Hancock, Root eliminates Hancock but needs a final vote against NOTA to secure a majority.
  • If the final round is Root vs. Hinkle, Hinkle is more likely to win than Root.
  • Hancock will not throw his support to a more electable candidate, because he wants a Root vs. Hancock referendum.


B. Kalafut said...

I'm still puzzling over the casting of Hinkle as a "unity candidate"; the man supports "internal education", which in my experience has always been a code word for elevating the position of the glib dolts to the status of dogma, "educating" everyone else that they should put down their Lomasky or Schmidtz or Epstein and start repeating blather about the initiation of force--and for filling the Platform with such pseudophilosophy so as to "educate" newly registered libertarians.

Brian Holtz said...

Hinkle is a unity candidate in the sense that he doesn't seem very afraid of the LP becoming too radical or too un-radical. He doesn't seem to think the radicalness of the Chair is an important consideration, as long as the Chair is principled and not polarizing.

I agree on both counts.