A Contentious Libertarian Convention

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LPVA Secretary Marc Montoni & Chairman Chuck Moulton

Yesterday, the Libertarian Party of Virginia held their state convention in Waynesboro.  About forty people attended the event, including a handful of nonparty members.  The main purpose of the gathering was to decide if and who the party should nominate for governor in the upcoming November elections.

The only candidate who submitted his name for consideration was Rob Sarvis.  For the record, Mr. Sarvis previously ran for the Virginia State Senate as a Republican against Dick Saslaw in 2011.

Mr. Sarvis’ candidacy seemed to run into a bit of a roadblock almost immediately.  Chuck Moulton, the chairman of the party, suggested removing the requirement that a person must have been a member of the party for at least 30 days prior to the convention in order to vote.  Presumably such a move would aid Sarvis as it was quite likely he brought several new members to the convention to support his cause.  However, this idea was rejected.

Next, Laura Delhomme, one of the coordinators for the 2012 Gary Johnson campaign, and Bill Redpath, a previous Libertarian candidate for governor, spoke in favor of nominating Rob Sarvis.  James Curtis, treasurer of the Virginia Libertarian Party, argued the position that the party should not have a candidate for governor.

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Virginia Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Rob Sarvis

Then, Mr. Sarvis came to the podium and discussed his political positions and experience.  He declared that his campaign would be “an opportunity to serve the cause of liberty”.  Afterward, he fielded questions and comments from the audience.  One major sticking point with a few of the delegates revolved around his work on an app called Pic Bubbler.  According to the app’s website it seeks to “get people naked” by creating the illusion of nudity.  Some worried that Sarvis’ association with the app could negatively affect perceptions of the party.  In addition, the leadership of the party raised quite a few hard-hitting doubts regarding Mr. Sarvis’ commitment to the party and his ability to spread their message; it seemed quite possible that the Libertarian Party would end up without a nominee.

Although a fair number of the eligible attendees did not vote, Mr. Sarvis was approved by a 14-5 margin.  Thus, assuming he collects the required number of signatures, Libertarian Rob Sarvis will appear on the November ballot alongside Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

No candidates stepped forward to be either the lieutenant governor or attorney general nominee for the Libertarian Party and so those two spots will remain vacant.

After that, the two Libertarian Party candidates for House of Delegates who attended the convention (of the ten statewide) spoke about their campaigns.  Keegan Sturdivant is running in the 8th district while Laura Delhomme is doing likewise in the 47th.

Although the convention itself had many contentious moments, with business concluded, the gathering took a more cordial tone, moving to the nearby Greenleaf Restaurant in downtown Waynesboro where attendees enjoyed dinner, drinks, and a few hours of stimulating conversation.

In comparison to the recent Republican conventions, Sunday’s Libertarian gathering was a good bit shorter and less theatrical.

So how will the Libertarian Party fair in the 2013 elections?  Will this year mark the election where they finally capture a seat in state government?  Only time will tell.

10 Replies to “A Contentious Libertarian Convention”

  1. Joshua wrote:

    Chuck Moulton, the chairman of the party, suggested removing the requirement that a person must have been a member of the party for at least 30 days prior to the convention in order to vote. Presumably such a move would aid Sarvis as it was quite likely he brought several new members to the convention to support his cause. However, this idea was rejected.

    To clarify: the 30 day requirement is usually waived at conventions (it’s an anti-takeover clause) and suspending that rule is usually not contentious. As chair I was not taking a position on the 30 day waive or trying to give Sarvis a boast as a candidate (the motion was made by Bill Wood); rather, I was trying to help the convention navigate the rules to get where they wanted to go. People disagreed on the 30 day waive, so they voted, the 30 day rule was left in place, the losing side accepted the outcome, and we all moved on. It worked out fine.

    1. Yes. Sorry if my statement wasn’t too clear. I know many organizations worry about some outside force coming in and meddling with their elections and I have personally seen it damage groups that weren’t prepared for it. Thanks for the additional details.

  2. Thank you Joshua for attending the LPVA Convention and writing about it. Your work is greatly appreciated. Thanks, Bill

  3. I thought the convention went swimmingly. I was especially appreciative of the way the contentious issues were handled by **everyone**. There were people who held strong opinions on both sides, and we all actually listened respectfully to each other, even if we disagreed. Once the vote was held, I got the distinct impression everyone was pretty pleased at the outcome.

    I approve of having the 30-day rule; in fact given events in NY (Roger Stone hijacking the NYC party, and shlock jock Howard Stern hijacking the state convention a few years ago, I think the anti-meddling rules are a good idea.

    I think 90 days might be a good idea; and then we should also specifically set up a method to waive the requirement. We’ve waived it in the past, but really since Robert’s Rules doesn’t allow for an organization to suspend its bylaws like that, we’re technically in “continuing breach” every time we hold a waiver vote.

  4. Oh Robert’s Rules… I wrote up a little piece on the convention with the beautiful pictures taken by Keegan’s wife, Carissa.

    I really enjoyed your more technical reporting though, Joshua. Thank you for contributing to the dialogue.

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