Libs Tap Badnarik for Prez

Austinite will carry third-party flag into November battle

In Atlanta on Sunday, Austinite Michael Badnarik won the Libertarian Party presidential nomination at the party's convention, defeating California film producer Aaron Russo and Cleveland talk radio host Gary Nolan. Russo had been leading by two votes in the first ballot, but Nolan subsequently withdrew and endorsed Badnarik, who won on the third ballot 423-344. Delegates credited Badnarik's come-from-behind victory to his performance in the convention's Saturday debates. Commented one delegate, "Russo has passion; Nolan is very polished. But I really think Badnarik was the big winner. ... The man's intellect is remarkable." In a separate vote, delegates chose Richard Campagna, an Iowa City attorney, as their vice-presidential nominee.

Badnarik is a computer consultant and has been a trainer for Evolutionary Technologies International, an Austin database management software firm, and says he now earns much of his living teaching classes about constitutional law. Although he concedes a Libertarian presidential victory is a long shot, he told the convention, "The reason we can't find a relationship between the Constitution and the government is that there is none. If I can win the Libertarian nomination, there's no reason I can't win this election. We have a unique opportunity to change the world."

If they can't win outright, the Libertarians are hoping that they can pressure President Bush from the right much in the way Ralph Nader is running to John Kerry's left, especially in battleground states like Wisconsin, Oregon, and Nevada. They hope to appeal to Republicans disaffected by the Bush administration's war in Iraq as well as its economic policies – many conservatives, like U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Surfside (himself a former Libertarian presidential candidate), oppose both the war and the administration's willingness to engage in deficit spending on a massive scale.

Badnarik is on record strongly opposing the war in Iraq as imperial military adventurism, and the USA-PATRIOT Act as a dangerous restriction on constitutionally guaranteed liberties. He also opposes all gun laws – saying he moved from California to Texas largely because of his opposition to California restrictions on gun ownership. He ran for state representative in District 47 in 2000, winning nearly 17% of the vote against GOP incumbent Terry Keel, and District 48 in 2002, winning 2% of the vote as Todd Baxter defeated Ann Kitchen. He shares the party's enthusiasm for free market absolutism and opposes virtually all government programs, from corporate subsidies of any kind to all forms of affirmative action. He has denounced the war in Iraq as unconstitutional, and says he would withdraw U.S. troops "as quickly and as safely as possible."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Election 2004, Michael Badnarik, Aaron Russo, Gary Nolan, Libertarian Party

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