Badnarik/Campagna 2004
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At the end of May 2004 about 800 Libertarians gathered at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia for the party's national convention.  Three major candidates sought the Libertarian presidential nomination, and when the voting was done on May 30 Michael Badnarik, a 49-year old computer consultant from Austin, Texas, emerged as the surprising choice of the delegates.  Delegates also selected Richard Campagna of Iowa City as the vice presidential nominee.  

Badnarik had announced his exploratory committee on November 17, 2002, presenting as his motto "Lighting the fires of Liberty, one heart at a time!"  He wrote that he was persuaded into the effort by "close friends (?) in the Travis County Libertarian Party, who flattered me by saying that I am one of the best Libertarian speakers that they know."  Badnarik earned 2.25% of the vote in a 2002 race for State Representative in Texas.  Badnarik campaigned at more than a dozen state conventions leading up to the national convention; during his travels he also taught his eight-hour class on the Constitution and sold copies of his book "It's Good to be King!"  

The Badnarik campaign raised and spent about one million dollars.  Badnarik appeared on the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia.  In the months following the convention he travelled extensively and did numerous interviews with local media but endured a near blackout from national media.  The campaign had moments of optimism; for example in mid-August, the combination of television advertising and several days on the ground in New Mexico meant that "he was being recognized in the street and reporters were following him around."  (see interview with associate campaign manager).

However, when all the votes were counted, the Libertarian ticket obtained 397,234 votes (0.32%), finishing fourth behind Ralph Nader.  The showing was marginally worse percentagewise than in 2000, when Libertarians Harry Browne and Art Olivier had obtained 384,431 votes (0.36%).  A Libertarian Party press release noted that Badnarik's vote total was more than the Green and Constitution party candidates combined, but conceded that "one of the campaign's goals – having an impact on the outcome of the Bush-Kerry race by winning votes from fiscal conservatives in swing states such as New Mexico, Nevada and Wisconsin – went unfulfilled." 

Copyright © 2004, 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action