Governor William Weld sought the endorsement of the Libertarian Party at their LPNY State Convention held in the Best Western Albany Airport Inn on Wolf Road in Albany, New York on April 29, 2006. After addressing the delegates, many wanted assurances that Governor Weld, if endorsed, would stay in the race as the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor even if he lost the endorsement of the Republican Party for that office. With that in mind, Sam Sloan asked Governor Weld the following question:
Q. I want to make sure that you are going to stick to this to the end, no matter what threats you get from the Republican Party. And by the way, will you run even if you don't get the Republican Party nomination?
A. Yes and Yes.
On June 1, 2006, William Weld lost the formal endorsement of the Republican Party at the Republican State Convention to Assembly Minority Leader John Faso by a vote of 61% to 39%. Governor Weld could still have contested the nomination of the Republican Party for Governor by running in the Republican Party Primary, however Stephen J. Minarik, the Chairman of the Republican Party in New York State, called Governor Weld on June 5, 2006 asking him to drop out of the race "in the interest of party unity". The next day, Governor Weld announced he would not continue his fight to secure the nomination of the Republican Party for Governor.
Since this was the exact scenario he had been asked about, Libertarian Party leaders fully expected Governor Weld would be good to his word and would continue as the candidate of the Libertarian Party for Governor. They were in for quite a surprise when Governor Weld informed them he was declining their nomination. Many argued the LPNY was foolish to have believed that a politician could also be a man of honor and stand by his word. Weld's reneging left a bad taste in the mouth of all those who had supported and trusted him.
William Weld served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1991-1997 and moved to New York in 2000. On April 24, 2005, reports leaked out that he was in talks with New York State Republicans to run for Governor of New York in 2006 against likely Democratic nominee Eliot Spitzer. Incumbent GOP Governor George Pataki announced on July 27, 2005 that he would not seek a fourth term. On August 19, 2005, Weld officially announced his candidacy for Governor of New York, seeking to become the second person after Sam Houston to serve as Governor of two different U.S. states.
Since William Weld had a reputation of being somewhat libertarian in his philosophy of government, a number of individuals in the Libertarian Party of New York started courting Governor Weld in order to encourage him to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party instead of the Conservative Party. Dr. Tom Stevens, a member of the LPNY State Committee, was the first person to make the suggestion and led the campaign to get the LPNY to consider endorsing William Weld. Dr. Stevens debated the issue on the Cable TV show Hardfire (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WukTzlUXpZ8) which was taped live before the Manhattan Libertarian Party. Stevens argued that if Weld ran for Governor as the Libertarian Party candidate without the endorsement of the Conservative Party that it was highly likely that the Libertarian Party could finally obtain the 50,000 votes necessary to obtain ballot access as a Minor Party for the next four years making it significantly easier for the Libertarian Party to run candidates throughout the state.
On April 28, 2006, one day before the LPNY State Convention in Albany, New York, a number of Republican County Chairs sent Governor Weld a letter, which they made public, requesting he NOT to seek the nomination of the Libertarian Party for Governor and warning of unimaginable consequences for the Republican Party if he did.
The text of that letter was the following:
The Honorable William Weld
355 Lexington Avenue, Suite 1001
New York, NY 10017
Dear Governor Weld:
As County Chairs of the New York State Republican Committee, we are very concerned about your willingness to solicit and accept the endorsement of the Libertarian party for your campaign for Governor.
While you may receive some short-term benefit from obtaining a second line on November's general election ballot, you potentially could create serious political problems for each and every Republican candidate for years to come should the Libertarian Party reach 50,000 votes and qualify as a recognized party in New York.
Another recognized party would force all Republicans to consider obtaining the party's endorsement at election time, or leave it to their opponents. This could seriously change the political landscape Republicans face each year in a state where we are outnumbered by five to three.
One look at the platform of the Libertarian Party demonstrates the controversy Republicans would face.
Positions out of the political mainstream the Libertarian Party has taken include supporting an end to the American military as we know it today; supporting the legalization of unlawful drugs and prostitution; calling for an end to the legal drinking age; opposing general laws against pornography or obscenity; supporting full marriage rights to same-sex couples; calling for an end to all restrictions on immigration into the United States; and, supporting full amnesty for all illegal immigrants already here.
Their platform simply does not reflect Republican principles and values, forcing Republican candidates into facing additional opponents, or opponents with additional ballot strength each year.
As County Chairs, we ask that you refrain from accepting their endorsement. By accepting the Libertarian endorsement you could be subjecting the Republican Party to consequences that are unimaginable and long lasting for the sake of political expediency.
Chairman, Livingston County Republican Committee
Chairman, Onondaga County Republican Committee
Chair, Steuben County Republican Committee
Regional Vice-Chairman, New York Republican State Committee, Region 7
Chair, Herkimer County Republican Committee
Former Secretary, New York Republican State Committee
Chair, Franklin County Republican Committee
Regional Vice-Chairman, New York Republican State Committee, Region 5
Despite the warning, Governor Weld attended the LPNY State Convention on April 29, 2006 and made the following comments to the delegates to show them he shared their basic libertarian philosophy. Weld said:
A government that respects individual rights is the government that best represents the spirit of American democracy. Removing the burdens of taxation and reducing the cost of doing business empowers our individuals and our economy. Government should stay out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom.
On June 6, 2006, despite his explicit promise to continue as the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor even if he lost his bid for the Republican nomination, William Weld sent a fax to Richard Cooper, the LPNY State Chair, informing him that he was declining the Libertarian Party nomination. In that fax, William Weld said,
I am unable to pursue further the gubernatorial nomination of the Libertarian Party of New York (LPNY)...I am grateful for LPNY's support and look forward to continuing to advance our mutual message of lower taxes and smaller government in the months and years to come.
Despite his alleged commitment to "lower taxes and smaller government", Governor William Weld endorsed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for President of the United States on October 24, 2008.
Dr. Tom Stevens, who had been an early backer of the idea that the Libertarian Party of New York should give its gubernatorial nomination to William Weld, said:
Had William Weld won the Republican Party's nomination for Governor in 2006, I am very confident that the Libertarian Party would have obtained 50,000 votes and ballot access for the next four years. With reduced petition signature requirements and the ability to nominate state-wide candidates through the convention process, the Libertarian Party would have been able to run candidates throughout the state that could have spread the message of liberty in a manner that could have built the Libertarian Party from the ground up making it a political force to be reckoned with. Had William Weld fulfilled his commitment to continue running on the Libertarian Party line even if he lost the Republican Party's nomination for Governor, we still might have had a shot of garnering the prized 50,000 votes although the task would have been a bit more difficult.
I am not sorry we took this shot. It was a good gamble with a significantly positive potential upside. What I had not anticipated was that William Weld could lie to the delegates at the LPNY State Convention promising them he would stay in the race as their candidate through November even if he lost the Republican Party's nomination for Governor and then go back on his word without any hesitation. What is even more disturbing is that a man allegedly committed to a government that should "stay out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom" would then go and endorse Barack Obama for President! Need I say more about this man's character and integrity?
Dr. Stevens followed up by saying he would never work with William Weld in any capacity at any time in the future. He said, "I have a choice and I only choose to work with honorable people who are good to their word."