Libertarians of North Carolina Show Leadership
BY JOHN T. PLECNIKwww.johnplecnik.com
September 13, 2004
On September 11th, the executive committee of the N.C. Libertarian Party met in Concord to set their strategy for November 2nd. More than fifteen Party officials met with activists and candidates. Notables included Chairwoman Barbara Howe, candidate for N.C. governor, and Executive Director Sean Haugh, candidate for N.C. House district 30.
The committee spent hours debating the Party's policy on mass mailings, online strategy, and database management. There were several disagreements, but all disputes were resolved through parliamentary procedure. Overall, the Libertarians maintained an enviable level of professionalism.
More importantly, the leaders were deferential to their colleagues. Most members seemed to enjoy one another's company. Formalities aside, the atmosphere was pleasant with an air of jocularity. More than one sarcastic quip invaded the discussion, to be followed with a round of raucous laughter. One officer joked that another was trying to usurp the power of the Chairwoman and teasingly demanded an investigative committee.
After the agenda began to rap up, more than a handful of young politicos petitioned the committee to join the leadership. Each was given an equal opportunity to address the officers. The hopefuls laid out their political resumes, detailing prior runs for office and lobbying efforts. Chairwoman Howe kindly informed them that everyone would receive due consideration, but that no decisions would be made until the vacant positions were publicized in the Party newsletter. I must commend Howe's insistence on remaining open with the voters.
Once Party affairs had been dealt with, several candidates requested an audience with the committee. Two Libertarians running for county commissioner petitioned them for funds and support. Former congressional candidate Joel Turner explained how Beaufort County had three Republicans and three Democrats sitting on the commission. If he were to claim victory in this fall's special election, the Libertarian Party would hold the tie-breaking vote over a multimillion dollar budget. Shane Killian argued that Republicans in Lincoln County had raised taxes, breaking their trust with the public. Killian asserted that he could provide a viable alternative to voters looking for a change.
The committee heard both men and debated their candidacies in view of the general membership. After about ten minutes of consideration, it was agreed that both candidates would receive immediate financial support. Over one thousand dollars was allocated before the meeting's conclusion.
I found the committee's openness to be a paragon of political virtue. There were no backroom deals, no power players, and no private alliances. Candidates made their case. Leaders debated the merits. Decisions were reached expediently. Both Republicans and Democrats stand to learn from such straightforward practice.
One more politician had arranged to visit with the committee. Rachel Lea Hunter, Republican candidate for North Carolina Supreme Court, was introduced by campaign manager Cameron De Jong. Remarkably, the committee asked if Hunter had come for their endorsement. 'Madame Justice' replied that she sought individual support. She did not want Party endorsements, having previously admonished the executive committee of the N.C. Republican Party for playing favorites.
On message, Hunter pledged to be a strict constructionist on the bench. She described herself as a liberty seeking Republican and a true conservative. I might add that Hunter spoke with a degree of eloquence-not polished like a five-term legislator, but effective. I am aware that certain factions in the Republican Party (associated with other candidates) have accused Hunter of being unqualified. For this reason, I find her speaking ability newsworthy, as well as the decade she spent as an appellate Judicial Law Clerk.
In all fairness, some current members of the North Carolina Supreme Court joined the bench with scant experience in appellate law. Hunter practices with a respectable private firm and argues appellate cases on a regular basis. She certainly meets the ethereal bar of being "qualified." That said, I am not arguing that Hunter is the strongest candidate. I am merely pointing out that any attacks on her qualifications are politically motivated.
The Libertarians enjoyed Hunter's speech and many approached her afterwards for more details. Overall, the Party seemed open to supporting the sole Republican woman on the ballot. As a political observer, I must comment on the savvy nature of such support. Clearly, Hunter represents the Libertarian Party better than RINOs like Judge Manning or liberal Democrats like Judge Wynn. In a race that may be won with less than thirteen percent of the vote, the Libertarians could easily decide the victor.
It would seem that North Carolina's odd Party out may be more influential in 2004 than some might have guessed.