Wednesday, January 22, 2014

John Clifton Says Using High Profile Individuals As Libertarian Party Candidates Can Be Useful & Effective

John Clifton, former Chair of the New York Libertarian Party and Libertarian Party of Queens County who ran for Governor and for United States Senate against Hillary Clinton, recently commented on the history of using high profile individuals as Libertarian Party Candidates. His statement is as follows:

"The concept of a LP-led 'stunt' candidacy with a high profile person has been seriously considered by the party in past years, and is relevant to our attempting to shake things up (in a precision way) to gain press for the party's agenda. The concept was tried successfully by the New York Green Party in '98 when running 'Grandpa' Al Lewis for Governor, and in Minnesota when outright electing Jesse Ventura Governor there that same year. The LP originally tried the idea with the fabled Howard Stern candidacy in '94.

The idea is that instead of starting from a candidate pool that has zero regular resources (no substantial name recognition, no serious money, no organized base) to run in a major race, we make a temporary alliance with someone who does, while living with the imperfections of the deal. Certain celebrities, retired public figures, or 'notorious' personalities may be situationally motivated at a certain point in their lives to act as candidates or endorsers on issues where we are in alignment, and may fit many of the demographics needed for the cause. They can be open to a wooing process we pursue at that time, should we have the foresight to mount an effort, and not insist on a perfect fit. 

In 2005, I contacted Monica Lewinsky to run for Senate (at the same time I also contacted Cindy Sheehan, and William Weld for Governor), based on the suspicion they might be interested in running with the Libertarian Party based on their individual circumstances. In the case of Weld, this turned out to be correct. With Lewinsky, the theory was she was young enough to perhaps appeal to the youth vote based on a left-libertarian campaign (e.g., to promote personal freedom issues of strong interest to young voters (18-34) and civil liberties topics that the Libertarian Party uniquely addresses, in a campaign that would be largely college-campus oriented). 

I think she was a more moral, more authentic and less scandal-prone woman than the then incumbent United States Senator (Hillary), thus might have had an axe to grind against her, and so could pass as an 'anti-fraud' libertarian candidate. If she had run, the media would have positively ate it up. Alas, she was not interested/did not reply, and suddenly got an all expenses paid gig overseas (as if somebody wanted her out of the way while Hillary was getting re-elected, and preparing to run for President). 

Sometimes approaching high profile people does work if there is a purpose and plan behind it, and this strategy could be useful to the LP, past and present."

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