Wrights pledges a ‘wise and frugal’ principled campaign

BURNET, Texas (Dec. 3) – In the four months since R. Lee Wrights began exploring the idea of seeking the Libertarian presidential nomination he has become even more convinced how critical it is for the Libertarian Party to be the anti-war party in 2012.

“The Democrats have not just completely failed to stop the ever expanding cycle of war, they continue to enlarge the cycle,” he said. “When the Republicans take control of the U.S. House, there will be no one left to speak for peace, no one but Libertarians,” Wrights said.

“When I announced formation of an exploratory committee on July 4, I said the Libertarian message in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war.” Wrights said. “Since then many Libertarians have told me they agree, and some have signed on to the campaign to help make it so.”

Thomas Hill, of Charlotte, N.C. has known Wrights for 10 years. He agreed to chair the exploratory committee because he said Wrights has proven to be a consistent and principled libertarian.

“He has never been afraid or ashamed of the axiom of non-aggression,” Hill said. “A true patriot through and through, Lee loves our great country and sincerely wishes to not only restore our once great Republic but to guarantee all men and women are truly free to live their lives and pursue their peaceful and honest dreams.”

“You cannot lead a nation into peace and prosperity while constantly initiating aggression against other nations,” said Norman Horn, who signed on as webmaster. “War is the ultimate evil and must be vigorously opposed by all true libertarians.”

Other members of the committee include: Brian Irving, press secretary; Robert Butler, treasurer; Julie Fox, assistant treasurer; Sean Haugh, events coordinator; Zachary Smith, campus coordinator, and; Katie Brewer, social media coordinator.

Wrights said he intends to run a campaign that will mirror the way a Libertarian president would govern. “I plan on running what Thomas Jefferson would probably call a ‘wise and frugal’ campaign,” he said. “It will be professional and well-run, a campaign all Libertarians can be proud of, but we won’t waste money on frills and we will rely heavily on grassroots activists.”

He said he is determined that whoever wins the 2012 nomination is totally committed to proclaiming the message to stop all war. To that end, Wrights has pledged to commit ten percent of all donations to his campaign to gain ballot access in all 50 states.

The committee also wants to ensure the 2012 nominee is equally committed to running on an unequivocal libertarian platform. “We need a candidate who is not ashamed nor afraid to proclaim the true libertarian message of individual liberty and personal responsibility, without compromise, without watering down and without pandering to those who are afraid of freedom,” said Irving.

Wrights, a Winston-Salem native, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.

Wrights 2012 press release

Republicans waffling on pork, earmarks

That whooshing sound you hear coming from Washington DC is the sound of the newly elected “Tea Party” Republicans waffling on their pledges to reduce the size of government and cut spending. While the incoming Republican majority went through the motion of voting to ban earmarks, the lame duck legislators still in power aren’t bound by similar constraints.

The tax cut deal being brokered, naturally in secret and behind closed doors, will probably include enough pork grease to ease passage. Included in the compromise is a 13 month extension of unemployment benefits and subsidies for ethanol.

Democratic Rep. Brad Miller may have been right when he called the Republican earmark ban “a sound bite in search of substance.” Miller, the proud sponsor of more than $26.7 million in earmarks himself, said that one member’s pork is another member’s infrastructure project.

Rep.-elect Renee Ellmers seems to agree with Miller’s theory of pork relativity. Ellmers said she would look at each proposal closely, especially expenditures for transportation and defense which are both important issues to North Carolina. Even Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, the Mother Superior of Tea Party mamma grizzles, said that advocating for transportation projects in your district does not equate to an earmark.

If it’s going to be a good expenditure of taxpayer’s money, I will go to bat for it, ” the Tea Party backed Republican said. Ellmers upset long-time Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge in a close Congressional District 2 race.

Note the use of the phrase “good expenditure of taxpayer money.” Apparently the theory of pork relativity does not take into account whether or not an expenditure is constitutional, whether or not it is for a program or activity that is within the proper role of government, or whether or not it is even necessary.

Defenders of earmarks and pork are also quick to point out that these expenditures represent only a small fraction, about one percent, of federal spending and that the money is already allocated and would be spent anyway. Again, there is no consideration of constitutionality, proper or needed.

Rep. David Price, a Democrat, said Congress would abdicate its responsibility if it gave the president power to make all spending decisions. “It’s a central congressional power, the power of the purse,” he said. Apparently Price is not as concerned about Congress abdicating its responsibility to the president or federal bureaucrats and agents in other areas, including declaring war, protecting civil liberties and coining money.

One local government official characterized his city’s lobbying for federal tax dollars as “the American way.” Kanapolis city manager Mike Legg said the city would revise it strategy and pressure federal agencies rather than Congress to steer money their way.

Legg invoked a peculiar interpretation of the First Amendment right to petition government for redress of grievances. “We should have the right to petition our government to bring back tax dollars for local efforts,” he said Mike Legg.

No party really has a majority

It’s almost certain that newly elected Republicans will go roaring into the U.S. House and the N.C. General Assembly beating their chests and claiming they have a majority and a mandate to run things. In reality, however, no major party earned a majority of the votes in the 2010 election, according to an analysis by the nationally-recognized ballot access expert Richard Winger writing in Ballot Access News.

Based on the vote counts for the highest office up for election, governor, U.S. Senator or U.S. House, the Republicans polled only 46.1 percent of the vote and the Democrats 45.6 percent. Libertarians polled at 1.2 percent, with the Constitution party at 1.1 percent, the Green Party at .6 percent.

North Carolina is an example of this no-major party majority. In straight party voting, Democrats got 51.1 percent, Republicans 48.1 percent and Libertarians .8 percent. Yet in the top-of-the-ticket race for U.S. Senate, Republican incumbent Richard Burr pulled in 55 percent of the vote, Democrat Elaine Marshall got 43 percent and two percent went to Libertarian Mike Beitler.

Even though Burr won a decisive victory in the U.S. Senate race, the results in the state’s U.S. House races favored Democrats. Even though Republican candidates drew a higher percent of votes, 53.5 to 44.5, only one Republican challenger won, and that race is subject to a recount.

Less than half of voters, 43 percent, voted a straight party ticket. That percentage is coincidentally the same as the percentage of registered voters who actually voted. On the other hand, 98.6 percent of voters made a choice for U.S. Senator. The state constitutional amendment banning felons from being county sheriffs drew 91 percent of the voters.

Participation in judicial races was lower. The contest for a seat on the state Supreme Court drew 74.6 percent of voters. Interestingly the appeals court race that had 13 candidates drew 72 percent of voters. Apparently, most voters were not confused at all by the cluttered ballot. Voter confusion and a cluttered ballot are arguments state elections officials used to justify and defend North Carolina’s highly restrictive ballot access laws in the lawsuit challenging the laws brought by the Libertarian and Green parties.

The state Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case in September and is expected to issue a ruling early next year. Whatever the court decides may impact any gerrymandering scheme the Republicans try to enact while redistricting the state’s Congressional and legislative districts.

Go to LPNC vs. The State for background on the lawsuit.

One million Americans voted Libertarian

The most significant impact of the 2010 elections is neither a mandate for the Republican Party, nor a rejection of the Obama Administration, but in the continued growth of the Libertarian vote at the local, state and national level, said potential Libertarian presidential candidate R. Lee Wrights.

“The Libertarian Party continued its record of putting up more candidates than any other third party in America, more than 800 this year,” Wrights said. “More than one million Americans voted for Libertarian candidates for the U.S. House and 15 of those candidates polled better than five percent of the vote in a three-way race, a substantial increase from what we’ve achieved before.”

Wrights said he was also proud of the accomplishments of the party’s two U.S. Senate candidates who earned more than four percent of the vote while challenging the Democrat and Republican party nominees. “It’s clear that the Libertarian message is reaching an increasing number of Americans, who are beginning to realize that not only is government part of the problem, but so are the Democratic and Republican parties,” Wrights said.

He noted that Libertarian candidates nationwide drew more than one percent of vote total for its House candidates, something no third party has done since the Progressives Party in 1948.

Unlike some Libertarians, Wrights said he doesn’t care to speculate on what the election results mean for the Republican Party. “I’m only concerned about what the results mean for the Libertarian Party and the libertarian movement,” he said. ”

One of their own candidates, Marco Rubio, warned that Republicans would make a grave mistake if the believed the election results were an embrace of the party,” Wrights said. “Rubio said it was a ‘second chance’ for the party to make good on its promises.”

“I can’t argue with the idea of giving anyone, or any party, a second chance,” Wrights said. “But the Republicans and Democrats have had many second chances — and third chances, and fourth chances — yet still continue to grow government, increase spending, raise taxes, limit freedom and expand our nations wars.”

“The question is, at what point do you say enough is enough, and stop voting for political parties who simply do not do what they say they are going to do,” Wrights said.

Wrights is considering seeking the presidential nomination because he believes the Libertarian message in 2012 should be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war. He has pledged that 10 percent of all donations to his campaign will be spent for ballot access so that the stop all war message can be heard in all 50 states.

The 52-year old writer and political activist was born in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and now lives in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.

Bloody but unbowed

Libertarian candidates consider election defeats a learning experience, prepare for the next election.

Although the results of the 2010 election were a disappointment for North Carolina’s Libertarian candidates because they were not elected, several consider it a very good learning experience and preparation for future campaigns.

Dr. Mike Beitler, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate, said that the goal of his campaign was to let voters know there is an alternative to the “bloated, outdated two-party system.”

“The establishment parties will continue to drive our country off the cliff until the American people wake up to the reality that both establishment parties will continue to serve their lobbyist corporate masters to the detriment of the American people,” he said.

T.J. Rohr was the first-ever Libertarian candidate for district attorney. He ran in district 25 which covers Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties.

“Although I am disappointed that I was not elected, I am honored and humbled by the support I did receive,” he said. “I am also proud that so many people were open to the issues I raised in this election: focusing on serious crimes involving theft, violence, and fraud, and de-emphasizing non-violent drug offenses, while repudiating illegal and unconstitutional traffic checkpoints and the death penalty.”

Stephen Burr said that he hoped the victorious Republicans in the Union County commissioner’s race would work with the current board members to find solutions to the problems the county faces.

“Union County taxpayers are on the hook for $900 million in bond payments and interest over the next quarter century, with a looming budget crisis that will be brought on by not adequately planning for the coming plunge in property tax revenues, “ he said. Burr intends to remain active in the county and won’t rule out another run for the commission or other office in 2012.

Stephanie Watson, candidate for N.C. Senate District 16, noted that 2010 was the year the state Libertarian Party “turned our principles into action.”

“Our party’s candidates stepped forward, many running very active campaigns across the state with the hope of being elected.” she said. “It has been an honor to share this adventure with them. I’ve learned a lot as a first-time candidate that I hope to take with me into 2012, both for my own run and for our party’s race for governor.”

“Third party candidates are often thought to divide the vote of a major party, but this was clearly not an issue,” said Lon Cecil, who ran for U.S. House District 12. “As discussed in several forums with Congressman Watt, we have many economic and job problems that Congress will have to quickly address in the 112th session. It is only 24 months until the next elections”

In the still-to-be-decided 2nd Congressional District race, Tom Rose got more votes than the margin between incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge and Republican Renee Elmers. The unofficial returns have the margin at 1,646 and Rose received 3,463 votes. Rose doesn’t speculate about whether his candidacy helped or hurt either, because he said he received support from both Democrats and Republicans.

“I’ve had Republicans, including one General Assembly candidate, tell me that they have voted for me, and have had Democrats and Republicans fed up with their parties making phone calls for me.”

“I do know that I convinced many Democrats to vote for me because they were upset with Etheridge but would not vote for the Republicans,” Rose said. “As amazing as it may seem, most of those who said this were over 60.”

Nationwide, the Libertarian Party extended its record of fielding more candidates than any other third party, more than 800 candidates. More than one million Americans voted for a Libertarian candidate for U.S. House and 15 of those candidates got more than five percent of the vote in a three-way race, a significant increase over past elections. That represents more than one percent of the vote total, more than any third party has earned since Henry Wallace’s Progressives in 1948.

Two U.S. Senate candidates received better than four percent of the vote in a three-way race, including party co-founder David Nolan who ran in Arizona against 2008 Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

Beitler asked the hard questions

Mike Beitler may not have received as many votes as the polls indicated he would, but he said he’s pleased with the election results because of the campaign staff and organization he’s built.

“I am ready to turn this all over to Mike Munger,” Beitler said, referring to the party’s last gubernatorial candidate. Many state Libertarians expect Munger, a Duke University professor, will run again in 2012. Munger got nearly three percent of the vote for governor in 2008, which allowed the state Libertarian Party to remain ballot qualified.

Beitler said it’s time for the Libertarians to get past the idea of just staying on the ballot and start building an organization that runs and wins elections. He said he entered the race in order to “ask the hard questions” of the two establishment candidates.

“The establishment parties will continue to drive our country off the cliff until the American people wake up to the reality that both establishment parties will continue to serve their lobbyist corporate masters to the detriment of the American people,” Beitler said in a thank you message on his campaign blog.

“My goal was to let the voters know that there is an alternative in North Carolina to this bloated, outdated two-party system, and if what you desire is real change, then you need to do something different.”

Beitler’s vote total of 55,201, representing 2.1 percent of the vote, is the second highest for a Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate. Chris Cole garnered the Libertarian highest vote totals, 133,430 votes (3.1 percent) in the historical 2008 presidential election year. But voter turnout that year was a record-shattering 70 percent. In most elections, especially off-year elections, voter turnout in this state hovers around 43 percent.

The North Carolina Libertarian Party has fielded a candidate in every U.S. Senate race since 1996.

Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate votes

  • 2010: Mike Beitler, 55,201votes (2.1%)
  • 2008: Chris Cole, 133,430 votes (3.1%)
  • 2004: Tom Bailey, 47,743 votes (1.4%)
  • 2002: Sean Haugh, 33,807 votes (1.5%)
  • 1998: Barbara Howe, 36,963 votes (1.9%)
  • 1996: Ray Ubinger, 23,296 votes (1%)

Win or lose, Libertarians make a difference

North Carolina’s Libertarian candidates are optimistic that regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s election, their campaigns have made a difference. They are optimistic because of the reaction they’ve received from voters unhappy with the two major parties.

“Voters are quite polarized this year, so my results are going to depend on turnout of unaffiliated and disenchanted Republican voters, plus a low Democrat turnout,” said Lon Cecil, candidate for U.S. House District 12. “Third party candidates are often considered a spoiler for one of the two old party candidates, but the odds seem better this year to spoil both old parties.”

During early voting Cecil said three men “who were clearly World War II generation” told him they were going to vote Libertarian because they couldn’t trust “either of the old parties.” Cecil recently was endorsed by the Rhinoceros Times, a Greensboro newspaper.

John Sams has also won the endorsement of a local paper, the Elizabeth City Daily Advance, in his race for Chowan County Commission District 3. The paper praised Sams for being “among the first county residents to question the county’s finances” and has “demonstrated his commitment to being fully informed on the county’s fiscal situation by attending budget deliberations.”

In the contentious race for U.S. House District 2, Tom Rose said he was most proud that he managed to get into one televised debate. Both Democratic incumbent Bob Etheridge and Republican Renee Elmers have spent enormous sums running attack ads. Rose said he’s swayed many Democrats and Republicans to vote for him by convincing them he can win and spend less the $5,000 in campaign funds.

“I feel like I have a good chance to win this race because I’m picking up many of the moderate Democrats votes,” Rose said. “I’ve had Republicans, including one General Assembly candidate, tell me that they have voted for me, and have had Democrats and Republicans fed up with their parties making phone calls for me.”

Rose’s candidacy may have on impact on what appears to now be a close race. A recent Civitas poll had Elmers leading Etheridge 46 percent to 41 percent, with Rose at 6 percent and 7 percent undecided.

Barry Coe hasn’t spent any money other than the filing fee in the race for state Senate District 24. He said he focused on attending forums and responding to surveys. “Many voters congratulated me for my ability to say, in clear terms, how they feel,” Coe said. He expects the race to be close.

A frequent comment he gets from people who say they agree with him is that they fear voting for him will be a wasted vote and elect the Democrat. Coe’s response is to explain that voting is about expressing a choice. “Don’t blame me if your candidate cannot motivate popular support,” he tells these voters.

Stephanie Watson thinks there will actually be a low voter turnout in her race for state Senate District 16, but that she’ll benefit from the candidacy Dr. Mike Beitler in the U.S. Senate race at the top of the ballot.

“I think Dr. Beitler could draw 5 to 10 percent in our district, and I’m predicting that my own race will reflect the same results,” she said. “He’s done an excellent job with limited resources of demonstrating the principles that voters can apply to most down-ticket Libertarian candidates across the state. I hope that translates into wins in many state and local races and impressive showings for our Congressional candidates, too.”

Voter dissatisfaction with the two-party duopoly was also evident in other ways, especially to some veteran Libertarian candidates. “This time people listened and agreed. This time no one walked away or disagreed.” said Richard Evey, a candidate in state Senate District 44. “I got some great feed back from some unlikely sources.”

Support from unlikely sources is also reflected in the fact that Beitler scored well with unaffiliated and liberal voters in several polls of the U.S. Senate race.

State party chair Barbara Howe said that Beitler has built on the success of the 2008 gubernatorial campaign, and she expects he will do as well as previous Libertarian candidates for U.S. Senate.

“Because of the campaign we ran in 2008 and because of the kind of candidate we’re running in 2010, where we have put forth articulate, smart candidates who really could serve if elected, we’re helping build the credibility of the party”she said.

Watson runs typical libertarian campaign

Stef Watson has been running a typical Libertarian campaign for N.C. Senate 16. She’s taken clear, unequivocal and specific stands on critical issues and hasn’t spent much money.

On the issues, Watson says in her blog GoLiberty.net, “I’m the only candidate ready to take an active stance sponsoring or co-sponsoring legislation for meaningful annexation reform, helping to restore property owners’ rights across the state.”

She also makes an interesting observation about the spending sprees put on by other candidates.

The incumbent Democrat Josh Stein has spent more than $248,000 and the Republican Mike Beezley about $25,000, all to get a job that lasts two years and pays only $20,659 per year.

Watson said she’s spend about $1,400, mostly her own money. “I’ll be interested to see the dollar-spent-per-vote-received ratios for each of us in this race,” she said. While she doesn’t think many people will go to the pools to support either Stein or Beezley, or her for that matter, she does expect to benefit from the Libertarian candidate at the top of the ballot, Dr. Mike Beitler, who’s running for U.S. Senate.

If you are one of the Wakes voters who’ll have the honor of having the opportunity to vote for more than one Libertarian candidate, read “Here’s why you should vote for Watson?

Anti-war liberals should vote Libertarian

Anyone who opposes the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has a clear choice in this election. They should vote Libertarian said R. Lee Wrights, a potential candidate for the 2012 Libertarian presidential nomination.

“Anti-war liberals who supported President Obama in 2008 should know by now that he’s not going to end America’s foreign wars,” Wrights said. “Instead, he’s sent more troops into harm’s way, with no clear end in sight, and he’s spending an even larger percentage of the GDP on these military adventures than the Bush Administration.”

Wrights said that President Obama has not only failed to reverse the curtailment of our civil liberties begun under Bush, he’s actually shred the Bill of Rights even more. “Not only has he claimed the immoral authority to murder American citizens overseas without indictment or trial, he’s also used the screen of ‘state secrets’ to prevent his targets or their families from challenging him in court.”

“There is nothing liberal about this; Obama is operating out of the neoconservative playbook,” Wrights said. “Even liberals who are proud of being tolerant, patient and understanding should realize by now that they have been betrayed by this president,” Wrights said.

Many Democrats actually voted for the authorizations for these wars and for the PATRIOT Act, yet now are claiming to be opposed to them. “It’s curious that during the Bush Administration, Democrats were openly opposed to the wars, even though they had supported them,” Wrights said. “Now that a Democratic president is doing the war-making, they are strangely silent.”

On the other hand, the Libertarian Party has gone on record opposing the wars, Wrights said. The national committee has passed resolutions opposing both Iraq and Afghanistan invasions.

The anti-war movement in the Libertarian Party itself inspired Wrights to consider seeking the presidential nomination. “I believe the Libertarian message now and in 2012 must be a loud, clear and unequivocal call to stop all war,” he said.

Wrights said that anti-war liberals can vote for Libertarians with a clear conscience because in addition to opposing wars, Libertarians share their core values. “We’re uncompromising supporters of free speech and all civil liberties, we oppose corporate welfare, abhor big corporations manipulating the government to get subsidies and protection from competition, and we believe the war on drugs is insane.”

Nearly 82 percent of voters will be able to vote for a Libertarian candidate on November 2, according to Ballot Access News. The party has 21 candidates for U.S. Senate and 169 candidates for U.S. House. As the third largest political party in the U.S., the Libertarians have more candidates on the ballot than any other third party.

Wrights, who was born in Winston-Salem, is a writer and political activist living in Texas. He is the co-founder and editor of the free speech online magazine Liberty For All.