Harry Browne appears
on stage with his wife Pamela to accept the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination,
which he won on the first ballot with 56% of the vote.
congratulates former mayor Art Olivier for winning the VP spot.
by Bill Winter
LP NEWS EDITOR
Under a shower of confetti and to the cheers of a packed convention
hall, Harry Browne won the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party at
its National Convention in Anaheim, California on July 2.
With a first-ballot victory, Browne, a bestselling investment author,
became the first man to claim the party's presidential nomination for the
Winning the vice presidential nomination -- in a four-way contest that
wasn't decided until the second ballot -- was Art Olivier, the former mayor of
In his acceptance speech on Sunday evening, Browne told delegates and
a national C-SPAN audience that Libertarians "believe in you."
Unlike Republicans and Democrats who want to run peoples' lives, "only
Libertarians believe in you," he said. "Only Libertarians recognize [that] you
are the rightful owner of your life -- not Al Gore or George W. Bush."
Over the long holiday weekend at the Anaheim Marriott Hotel, more than
900 credentialed delegates also elected a new national chairman, chose new LP
officers, made a few significant changes to the party platform -- and earned a
burst of national publicity as it heads into Election 2000.
"This wasn't just an energizing, exciting convention, it was a
convention that brought the Libertarian message to millions of voters, thanks
to an amazing amount of television, radio, and newspaper coverage," said Steve
Dasbach, the party's national director. "The party is definitely moving into
high gear as we move into the campaign season."
For many delegates, the convention reached emotional crescendos when
pop/folk singer Melanie joined the party live on stage on Sunday, and later
that evening when Peter McWilliams won a posthumous Champion of Liberty Award
for his fight for medical marijuana.
Close to 1,200 people attended the convention between Friday and
Monday (June 30-July 3) -- including delegates, Libertarians from across the
USA, and interested visitors from the local area -- while a potential audience
of millions watched two days of gavel-to-gavel coverage on C-SPAN. Other
convention events and interviews were taped for later broadcast on the cable
The political highlight of the convention came on Sunday afternoon,
when Browne won the party's presidential nomination on the first ballot.
Browne, 67, defeated four other contenders for the nomination and the
coveted 50-state ballot status that goes with it.
The author of Why Government Doesn't Work and The Great Libertarian
Offer, Browne won 493 votes -- or 56% -- to become the only two-time LP
presidential candidate. He also ran in 1996, winning almost one-half million
With 878 credentialed delegates on the floor at the time, 439 votes
were needed for a first-ballot victory.
Browne said he was "proud, humble, and excited" to win the party's
nomination for the second time.
"This is unprecedented and somewhat audacious of me to run a second
time," he said. "I consider my reputation to be on the line in this campaign.
Thus I am determined to do everything possible to get every last vote I can,
to bring in every new member possible, to spend every dollar in the most
Coming in second was Don Gorman, a former four-term New Hampshire
state legislator, with 166 votes (19%), who had run a spirited, nationwide
In third place was Jacob Hornberger, the president of the
Virginia-based Future of Freedom Foundation, a one-time potential candidate
for the nomination who had unexpectedly thrown his hat back into the ring just
four days before the convention began. He won 120 votes, or 13%.
Rounding out the race was Barry Hess, an Arizona businessman, with 53
votes (6%), Dave Hollist, a past candidate for U.S. House from California,
with 8 votes (1%), None Of The Above, 23 votes (2.6%), and other write-ins, 15
After the race, Browne complimented the two opponents who had appeared
at numerous state party conventions around the country with him, during their
quest for the party's nomination.
"I am very grateful to Don Gorman and Barry Hess, who each ran very
good campaigns that have brought credit to the LP," he said.
In his acceptance speech, Browne first thanked the delegates for the
"This is a happy day for me," said Browne. "I thank you and I am
honored by your nomination."
Then, speaking to the C-SPAN audience, he said, "I am running for
president because it is obvious that no Democrat or Republican is ever going
to stop the relentless growth of the federal government."
By contrast, he said, Libertarians always "come down on the side of
your running your own life, making your own decisions, keeping your own money
-- spending it, saving it, giving it away as you think best. We are always on
your side -- the side of stopping politicians from running your life."
As president, he would end the income tax and "replace it with
freedom," replace Social Security with private retirement accounts that
politicians can't touch, and end "the greatest public policy catastrophe that
has ever hit the American public," the War on Drugs, he promised.
"If you want to get government out of your life; if you want control
of your life, the only way you can make that known is to vote Libertarian," he
said. "And if that doesn't give you a victory this year, it will put you one
step closer to a victory."
Post-convention, his campaign will focus on reaching Americans with a
"compelling reason" to consider voting Libertarian, said Browne, and will try
to get as much media coverage as possible.
"We are trying to reach those who have the most compelling reasons to
vote for us -- the people for whom the 'wasted vote' idea has the least
appeal," he said.
"These are people who are concerned about burning issues that receive
no satisfaction whatsoever from either the Republicans [or] Democrats. These
include those who have been hurt personally by the Drug War, those who
recognize that the gun laws must be repealed (not enforced or supplemented),
those who are saving for retirement on their own and would love to be free of
Social Security, smokers, and others who can make a clear-cut statement for
their desires only by voting Libertarian."
To reach those people, said Browne, "We are determined to get as much
media coverage as possible -- to add credibility and respectability to the
campaign, so that those with compelling reasons to vote for us will feel
comfortable doing so, knowing that others are aware of our message as well and
may be voting for us.
"The media coverage will come in the form of paid advertising plus
personal appearances on national and local TV and radio shows. That will be
supplemented further by volunteers writing letters to the editor, calling into
talk shows, posting yard signs, and other displays."
Browne, a resident of Tennessee, is the author of 11 books, the most
recent being his campaign manifesto, The Great Libertarian Offer (LiamWorks
Books). His previous 10 books have sold over 2 million copies, and four of
them reached the bestseller list.
Browne became widely known in the early 1970s with How You Can Profit
from the Coming Devaluation, How I Found Freedom In an Unfree World, and You
Can Profit from a Monetary Crisis, which reached #1 on the New York Times
bestseller list. In 1996, he published Why Government Doesn't Work.
The race for the vice presidential spot was more dramatic -- taking
two days and two ballots -- and was highlighted by two unexpected last-minute
Just days before the convention started, Steve Kubby, the party's 1998
gubernatorial candidate in California and National Director of the American
Medical Marijuana Association, and Gail Lightfoot, current LP candidate for
U.S. Senate from California, jumped into the VP race.
The convention also buzzed about the possibility that Don Gorman might
re-emerge as a contestant for the VP spot, but he declined in what many
observers said was one of the convention highlights -- a short speech to the
delegates in which he said it would be unfair for him to enter the race at the
last minute after other candidates had campaigned so vigorously for the
The first ballot on Sunday night ended with no majority. Art Olivier
won 330 votes (44%), Kubby got 303 votes (40%), Krawchuk won 70 votes (9%),
and Lightfoot picked up 7 votes (1%). Write-ins, NOTA, and abstentions
accounted for the remaining votes.
After Krawchuk withdrew from the race and threw his support to
Olivier, the convention voted to have a run-off between the top two
contenders: Olivier and Kubby. Before the business session was gaveled to a
close, delegates quickly voted, and the results were announced Monday morning.
Emerging as the clear winner on the second ballot was Olivier, with
418 votes (54%). Kubby won 338 votes (44%). There was also a scattering of
write-ins and NOTA.
Olivier, 42, served as the mayor of Bellflower, California, a city of
67,000 residents, until 1999.
He had been elected to the Bellflower City Council in 1994 -- becoming
the first Libertarian councilman anywhere in Los Angeles County -- and was
elected mayor pro-tem in 1997 and mayor in 1998.
On the campaign trail as vice president, he said, he will talk about
how he "eliminated taxes, privatized services, stopped eminent domain, and
weeded out corruption" as mayor.
"A former officeholder [who] has actually reduced government brings an
added amount of credibility to the campaign," he said.
More than 50 speakers addressed the convention in Main Hall,
breakfast, lunch, and break-out sessions.
Highlights included Jack Gargan, former national chairman of the
Reform Party, who said that Ross Perot's party had "self-destructed" and was
"heading at warp speed into oblivion.
"We blew it as the Reform Party -- but what an opportunity for the
Libertarian Party!" he said.
During the four-day event, camera crews from the Fox TV Network, the
Fox News Channel, KABC TV, KNBC TV, the Orange County News Channel, and KCAL
TV roamed the floor taping footage for their news broadcasts, and CNN aired
the results of the presidential nomination on Sunday.
Newspapers and magazines such as the Los Angeles Times, Worth, Maxim,
the Orange County Register, and the Christian Science Monitor sent reporters,
as did the Associated Press and Reuters.
Seven talk show hosts broadcast live from the convention, with 25 to
30 LP guests appearing for about 17 hours on the shows -- which were broadcast
on about 500 stations around the USA.
The convention even generated international interest, with calls from
Kyodo News in Japan and from the Mexican News Service.
The convention generated upwards of 4,000 phone and website inquiries
about the party, with hundreds more coming each day, estimated Dasbach. In
addition, the party's website -- www.LP.org -- scored several hundred thousand
hits a day during the convention.
Immediately after the convention, Harry Browne flew to Washington, DC
for a round of media interviews.
"The first week after the campaign I was on C-SPAN's Washington
Journal, CNN Today, CNN's Inside Politics, the PBS Evening News, MSNBC's Equal
Time, and America's Voice TV," he said. "In all, that week there were six
national TV shows, eight national radio shows, eight local radio shows, four
press interviews, and seven Internet interviews."
The reception he got from the media, he said, was "very respectful,
and in many cases very supportive."
For Libertarians who want to support his campaign, Browne had some
"Contribute money so that we saturate some networks and markets with
our ads," he said. "Arrange a large public event for me to come to your city.
Sign up for LibertyWire to be aware of organized projects -- such as getting
me on major TV shows or into major polls or covered by major press services.
Sign up as a volunteer through the Harry Browne website."
Libertarians can also help spread the word about the campaign on talk
radio, he said.
"Take advantage of every opportunity to mention my campaign and the
Libertarian Party," he said. "When you hear a subject such as Social Security
or the Drug War mentioned on a talk show, call in to give the Libertarian
"Mention that Harry Browne is the only presidential candidate with
this position and Libertarians are the only party working for you to be free
to live your life as you want to live it."
News & Features