Seven area residents were among over 800 delegates in attendance Memorial Day weekend at the Libertarian Party's National Convention in
Atlanta. On the third ballot, the convention delegates chose
computer consultant and Constitutional scholar Michael Badnarik (www.Badnarik.org) of Austin, TX as the party's nominee to oppose George W. Bush and John Kerry in the presidential election this November.
Richard Campagna, an attorney from Iowa City, IA, was selected as the vice-presidential nominee.
Chereé and Joe Dumas of Signal Mountain joined Bill Bolen, Daniel Lewis, E. D. Jahn and Trevor Southerland of Chattanooga and state party chairman Ray Ledford of Cleveland as part of Tennessee's 22-member delegation to the convention.
The delegates, as well as a national television audience, watching via C-SPAN, experienced a suspenseful race that saw Badnarik ultimately prevail over his two main rivals, Hollywood producer Aaron Russo and talk radio host Gary Nolan of Cleveland, OH.
Russo actually held a slim lead after each of the first two ballots, but
fell well short of the majority needed to secure the nomination. After the second ballot, Nolan, the pre-convention favorite who had
unexpectedly dropped to third place, was eliminated and threw his support to Badnarik. With this added boost, the Texan was able to achieve a 423-344 majority over Russo and claim the party’s nomination.
Badnarik, 49, entered the convention as the underdog but won over many uncommitted delegates with a rousing performance in Saturday evening’s televised debate between the three candidates, delegate Joe Dumas said.
Mr. Dumas stated, "Michael got a 100 mph fastball right down the middle and knocked it out of the park. He decisively won the debate and that, along with Nolan’s support, made the difference" in the final result.
He said Badnarik's 16-month, nationwide campaign "placed a strong emphasis on reducing the size and scope of government by insisting on strict adherence to the limitations found in the U.S. Constitution, which he said has long been ignored by all three branches of the federal government to the detriment of the country."
"The reason we can't find a relationship between the Constitution and our current government is that there is none," declared Badnarik. "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."
Badnarik urged the national audience to reject the "wasted vote" argument, abandon the failed policies of the Democratic and Republican parties, and vote for Libertarian candidates at all levels, it was stated.
"If you were in prison and faced a 50% chance of death by lethal injection, a 45% chance of the electric chair, and had a 5% chance of escape, would you vote for lethal injection because it was the most likely outcome, or would you try for escape?" said Badnarik. "Voting Libertarian is our only chance for political survival. Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil."
In addition to nominating the party's federal candidates, delegates
chose party officers to serve for the next two years. Hamilton County party chairman Trevor Southerland, 19, was elected chairman of the National Libertarian Party Youth Caucus.