Cheated of victory in the state GOP caucuses, Ron Paul's supporters organize the Louisiana Taxpayers Party, place Ron Paul and Barry Goldwater Jr. on the presidential ballot, and produce a slick TV ad that all can use to promote Paul's four points. by George J. Dance
Friday, October 31, 2008
Time and again during the Republican primary season (as I discovered when writing "Ron Paul's Delegate Wars" last spring), Paul was cheated of national delegates by Republican Party rule-breaking and chicanery. That became almost the norm after President George W. Bush anointed John McCain as the party nominee; but incidents were reported earlier. One of the earliest was the Louisiana state caucus vote, in January. As I summarized that story in "Delegate Wars (I)":
At the Jan. 22 caucuses, party officials violated several of their own rules in an attempt to freeze out the RPR [Ron Paul Republicans]. First, they held off calling the original caucus until Dec. 17 - ten weeks after the legal deadline, and two weeks after the deadline for registering Republican. Second, the deadline to file as a delegate was arbitrarily extended after Ron Paul supporters were the only ones to file a full slate in each congressional district. Third, officials used an out-of-date party membership list, to challenge Paul supporters and force them to cast provisional ballots.
Reports Ron Paul 2008: "Had the LA GOP followed its own rules, Ron Paul would have won 5 of the 7 state congressional districts, giving the campaign a majority of the state convention delegates, resulting in at least 35 delegates elected to the national convention in St. Paul." (1)
Caucus delegate Trent Hill later gave Reason magazine a first-hand account:
I am located in Baton Rouge, District 6, where most of the controversy was centered. On the night of the caucus, I stayed late with the campaign officials to watch the ballot counting--amongst other things. The Republican Party of Louisiana had used an outdated voter registration list which had caused some 600-odd caucus-goers to vote "provisionally", and we wanted to be sure that those votes were counted fairly, and they were. I was a candidate for delegate in District 6 and had re-registered Republican only 3-4 days before the deadline, along with my wife. Although I was a candidate for delegate, certified by the Republican Party, I had to cast a provisional vote--as did my wife.
When I left the caucus, around midnight, I was told by our state director (Andrew Axsom) and the Southern Regional Director (Matt Chancey) that we were ahead in every district in the state. Two days later, all provisional votes had been removed and we captured only about 1/4th of the delegates. (2)
The Paul campaign formally challenged the results, and the seating of the state delegation at the September Republican convention. By convention time, though, almost no one was paying attention. After all, McCain was clearly the candidate backed by the party machine, while Paul did not even bother to show up for GOPalooza, preferring to spend the weekend at his own Rally for the Republic in twin city Minneapolis.
Some that were still paying attention were the RPR delegates cheated of their votes in caucus. That gave them a motive for payback, and when the method and opportunity came their way, they went for it.
The opportunity was suggested in August, when the "happy hillbillies" of the Independent Green Party collected enough signatures to place Michael Bloomberg and Ron Paul on the Virginia presidential ballot, and both Bloomberg and Paul (temporarily) allowed their names to stand. The story got a sizeable amount of media attention in a slow news period. (3)
That in turn suggested a method: why not run Ron Paul as a presidential candidate in Louisiana? Louisiana is one of the easiest states in which to qualify a ticket for POTUS; as Hill explains it,
In Louisiana, no signatures are required to access the ballot. All that is required here in Louisiana is 9 notarized elector forms (1 from each Congressional District and 2 at-large) and a $500 filing fee.... We first started to contact and fill out elector forms on Monday, August 25th. We had until September 2nd, giving us 8 short days (though Hurricane Gustav would later change this)."
Their efforts succeeded, and Ron Paul is a ballot-qualified choice for POTUS in the state, with Barry Goldwater, Jr. (former California congressman, eponymous son of the 1964 Republican nominee) as his running mate.
Many people helped with that success. Hill has emphasized that fact, telling one local blog: "As for the ballot -- I didn't get us on. It was a group effort where everyone participated and the idea originates with Randall Hayes of Winnfield." (4)
Another local blog cited another contributor: "Paul and Goldwater are on the ballot due partly to the efforts of an Alexandria man, Brent Sanders. Sanders, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully in the past as a Libertarian for both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Louisiana House of Representatives, helped create the Louisiana Taxpayers Party to place Paul on the ballot." (5)
Hill did, though, take the initiative in promoting the new party and ticket by publicly headhunting a running mate, writing to Paul's former congressional aide (and sometime ghostwriter) Lew Rockwell in August:
"Last week, there was much excitement over the news that an independent ticket featuring Michael Bloomberg and Ron Paul would be placed on the ballot in Virginia. This was eventually shot down because the ticket was to be replaced by the Constitution Party's ticket. "Now, in Louisiana, a similar but more exciting thing is happening. Constitutionalists, Libertarians, Republicans, and Independents have gotten together and formed an elector-slate to place Ron Paul/Lew Rockwell on the ballot. Although this is not finalized yet, it seems a certainty. The new entity placing Paul/Rockwell on the ballot is the Louisiana Taxpayers Party, a completely Independent state party expressing fidelity to the principles of the Constitution, and of un-restricted free trade. "Mr. Rockwell, we hope that you will permit us to place your name on the ballot beside heroic constitutionalist Ron Paul."
Rockwell printed Hill's letter on his popular LRC Blog (400,000 visitors last month, per Compete), and replied: "Trent, you do me great honor by including me with Ron Paul, but I cannot accept your very kind offer. But I love the idea of having Ron on the ballot in Louisiana!" (6)
Goldwater, who had campaigned with Paul during the New Hampshire primary, was approached at the Rally for the Republic, and reportedly "was very happy about the effort and even suggested he might come to Louisiana to do some fundraising events or rallies." Says Hill, "One of my main goals in putting Ron Paul/Barry Goldwater Jr. on the ballot in Louisiana is to help encourage Barry Goldwater Jr. to run for President in 2012. I believe his record on the issues, name recognition amongst Republicans, and respect amongst Ron Paul-voters would lead to an effective, inspiring, and combative run for the Republican nomination."
As for the top of the ticket, Hill has "specifically avoided all contact with Ron Paul. He has neither encouraged nor discouraged this idea--and I never gave him the opportunity to. Like most events sourrounding Ron Paul, this was a grassroots effort that was completely out of his control." He is quick to add that "We have received confirmation from several Ron Paul staffers that Ron Paul will not have his name removed from the ballot."
Ballot Access News reported in early September that "On September 4, a slate of presidential electors was filed at the Louisiana Secretary of State's office, in person. The electors are pledged to Ron Paul for president, and former Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr., for vice-president. The partisan label for this slate is "Louisiana Taxpayers Party." The filing, and the $500 was accepted, but the Secretary of State did not commit to printing the slate on the ballot." (7)
A website (lataxpayers.com) was launched to promote the new party and ticket on September 11. (4)
By mid-October, all had come together, and some local media were running stories like this:
Well, chalk one up for what's left of democracy in the United States -- and Louisiana. U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican presidential nomination, has been added to the Louisiana ballot as presidential candidate for the Louisiana Taxpayers Party ticket with Barry Goldwater Jr., son of the late Barry Goldwater and a former Republican congressman from California. Paul, who received only fraction of the press coverage of his competitors, garnered a huge grass roots following during his bid by advocating a noninterventionist foreign policy, abolishing the Federal Reserve, pledging never to raise taxes, and opposing the Patriot Act as well as gun regulation.
Montana is the only other state where voters will be able to choose Paul for president. (8)
It was no longer the slow news season, though, and free media remained sparse. The website was soon complaining that "We have received minimal coverage from the local media and thus, few people know Ron Paul is on the ballot!" (9)
The LATaxpayers did more than complain, though. They produced a 30-second TV commercial, which can be viewed and downloaded here at the website. They are raising funds for the ad's production and distribution; contributions can be made here as well. They are also encouraging members to buy air time independently on cable TV, noting that "Some time slots go for as low as $25.0!!!" [sic].
The commercial, "Smack Down the Blood Suckers," is a tour-de-force. In 30 hectic seconds, it manages to promote the Paul/Goldwater ticket and four other third-party candidates for President -- Chuck Baldwin, Bob Barr, Cynthia McKinney, and Ralph Nader -- and bullet-point the common platform which all of them support -- "Ron Paul's four points" from the statement signed at Paul's September 10 press conference:
Bring our troops home now.
Stop the government spying.
Halt the National Debt.
Audit the Federal Reserve.
The ad was specifically designed to be useable by any and all supporters of the "Four Points," and/or any of the four candidates besides Paul, in or out of Louisiana. The website explains how any group can customize the ad for their own use:
For those outside of Louisiana: This ad was also designed to promote the "4 points" and third party candidates that support them. We can change the last 5 seconds to whatever you want for the quite low price of $100.00.
So, say you are a Libertarian group in Deleware, and you want to support Bob Barr. In that case send us a good picture (should be near or over 720x480 pixels) and what you want the voice-over guy to say.
For example, "This ad was paid for by the Libertarians of Deleware, who supports the candidacy of Bob Barr for President of the United States." After the ad is finished, we will upload it to this server, where the tv station can download it. Of course, we can do this service for any candidate that supports the 4 points - presidential or otherwise.
If this interests you, contact the Ad's producer, Joel Bevacqua at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For information concerning TV Ad buys, call Brent Sanders at: (318) 613-6069, or e-mail him at email@example.com
Also, you may download the file we already made, change it yourself, and use it free of charge (but only for tv and internet ads, everything else needs copyright-cleared by us)! (9)
Anyone who wishes to promote "Ron Paul's Four Points" has no better vehicle, in the few short days remaining until Election Day, than the one offered here.
(7) "Louisiana Asked to Print Ron Paul on Ballot as Presidential Candidate," Ballot Access News, Sep. 4, 2008. http://www.ballot-access.org/2008/09/04/louisiana-asked-to-print-ron-paul-on-ballot-as-presidential-candidate/
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I posted a link onto Independent Political Report (where Trent Hill hangs out), and Mr. Hill wrote back replying:
George! Great article!
So far,that TV ad is playing this weekend roughly 60 times. We hope it’ll play more than that. I urge ANYONE who is reading this–please please please donate to this cause. Because of connections and some tech-savvy people,we’re able to place ads in primetime slots for as low as 25-50 bucks!