Once More into the Breach

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Libertarian set to prove power of third party candidacies

A month ago, Michael Badnarik was virtually unknown. This morning, one cable news pundit’s wisecrack, “I’m holding out for Badnarik,” elicited urbane chuckles from his fellow Beltway insiders. But Badnarik may have the last laugh.

“We believe that Michael Badnarik’s candidacy will determine the outcome of this presidential election,” says campaign manager Fred Collins. Collins is not alone – over the last week, the media has belatedly begun to notice Badnarik’s small but firm showing in “battleground state” polls. With the presidency conceivably hanging on a few votes in one or two states, Badnarik is perceived as a very real threat to President George W. Bush’s prospects in New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon and Wisconsin, and possibly as a factor in Arizona or even the “Big Three” – Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Public attention focused on Ralph Nader’s 2000 presidential candidacy after Democrats accused him of costing Vice President Al Gore the pivotal state of Florida. Virtually unnoticed at the time was the fact that Libertarian presidential candidate Harry Browne had polled more than 2000 votes in New Mexico, a state which Gore won by only 366 votes. Browne also received more votes in Oregon and Wisconsin than future president George W. Bush lost those states by.

This year, the Libertarian Party’s organizational strength trumps Nader’s name recognition, says Tom Knapp, Badnarik’s media coordinator. “Without the Green Party’s ballot line and with the Democratic Party pulling out all stops to keep him off the ballot in key states, he’s dead in the water. Due to the work, past and present, of Libertarian Party activists, 98.3% of American voters will find Michael Badnarik listed on their ballots. Only half will find Ralph Nader. “

Recent polls show Badnarik receiving about 1% of the vote nationwide, with higher percentages in battleground states where his campaign has invested advertising money. National advertising runs commenced last week, and the campaign is pouring revenues from a last-minute fundraising surge into a final media push on Monday.

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Stephen Gordon
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