Bob Barr Considers Returning to Congress…As a Republican

Bob Barr, the Libertarian Party’s 2008 Presidential nominee, is rumored to be considering a run for the U.S. Congress in Georgia as a Republican. The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports:

Former Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr has told friends that he’s contemplating an attempted return to Congress – and a return to the Republican fold.

Barr, a longtime resident of Cobb County, would challenge U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger – a tea party favorite. In August, the Legislature redrew Graves’ district to include heavily populated Floyd and Paulding counties – which now make up 38 percent of the electorate.

Barr has told acquaintances that he would move to Paulding. We put a call into his office this morning, but have not heard back.

Bob Barr received over five-hundred thousand votes nationwide in his bid for President. Rep. Tom Graves is considered to be quite vulnerable, despite being an incumbent.

62 thoughts on “Bob Barr Considers Returning to Congress…As a Republican

  1. Chuck Moulton

    Best of luck to Barr!

    It would be great to have another small-L libertarian in Congress — even as a Republican. He’s moved far in the libertarian direction since he last served in public office. He has my support.

  2. Robert Capozzi

    interesting that he’d apparently go against a TP R. Wonder if this is true, and why he thinks this is a good move…

    Having him back in Congress seems to be a plus. Unfortunate that he may think he could not win as a L, which is probably the case…

  3. George Phillies

    Of course, he has some interesting financial issues related to current campaign debt, some of which is locked into a judgement against his campaign to Jim Bovard.

  4. Jill Pyeatt

    I wouldn’t support him. I’ll never forgive him for not showing up at the third party press conference Dr. Paul set up. He really embarrassed himself, and, by extension, our party.

  5. Jimmy

    Bob Barr is one of those typical self-serving users and abusers of third parties. He converts to get the nomination, loses, and then goes back to the GOP. Ron Paul is another BIG TIME loser who was a Republican, Libertarian, Constitution (off brand), and again GOP member.

  6. Steven R Linnabary

    I’ve got mixed feelings.

    I did not support Bob for the LP nod in ’08, though I did support him in the general.

    I have grown to like him a lot since then. He seems to be getting more libertarian each time I read his column.

    I can’t blame him if he were to seek the R nomination, there is no ballot access in GA for the LP.

    But I will NOT be $upporting him in any tangible way…I don’t give $ to republicans.


  7. George Phillies

    Someone who could be named recruited this character as our Presidential candidate. It was a disaster for our party. Hopefully the person in question will not in the future do anything unfortunate, such as running for LNC again, so that the details do not have to be filled in.

  8. Jeremy C. Young

    This seat presents an intriguing target for Barr. Ordinarily, I’d say a guy like Barr, who openly bolted the GOP and who doesn’t have the charisma of a Ron Paul, would be a long-shot to win a Republican primary, but in this seat he just might pull it off. The incumbent, Tom Graves, is a uniquely weak candidate. In 2010 he ran against the same lackluster Republican opponent four times, and while Graves won each time, his margin never improved — the other guy was still getting 44% in the fourth primary, even after Graves became the incumbent. This suggests that Graves was unable to consolidate Republican support in the way most primary victors do.

    It remains to be seen whether voters in this ultra-conservative district will back Barr’s new views on the drug war, or his other libertarian positions. But I don’t blame him for putting polls in the field and giving this some serious consideration. It’s almost as if this seat were designed to give him a surprisingly legitimate shot at returning to Congress.

  9. Tom Blanton

    This Bob Barr column sounds like it was written by any one of a dozen Republican pundits painting the Occupy Wall Street folks with a very wide brush. I don’t think Barr misses any stereotypes here except that they smell bad.

    He compares them first to protesters of the 60’s while at the same time recalling all of the anti-protest rhetoric of the 60’s himself. Then he compares them to the founding fathers while writing about the founders in the present tense as if they are still alive. Very weird.

    True revolutionaries, such as Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, actually understand history and human nature, and are truly (not superficially) well-educated on the substance of that which they espouse. And, unlike their modern, self-styled namesakes, these icons possess vision and have concrete goals, not slogans and placards; and they are willing to sacrifice much (if not everything) to achieve their goals.

    It’s no surprise that Barr would run for office as a Republican, he is a Republican at heart.

    While Barr may have become a little more libertarian, it may be that many LP members have become a little more conservative also.

    As for Barr’s views on the drug war, he pleads the 10th. He has no problem with states waging drug wars, his problem is with the federal war on drugs.

  10. Thane Eichenauer

    If Bob Barr does qualify for the ballot in Georgia and I was eligible to vote for him in the primary or general election I would do so. Barr has made mistakes in the past but the choice isn’t between Bob Barr and a Libertarian but Bob Barr and some other Republican. I have read plenty of Bob Barr’s words since he became a Libertarian.

    I also would hope that he could clear off any Bovard judgement before election season starts in earnest.

    I used to be a Barr skeptic before reading his book “The Meaning of Is: The Squandered Impeachment and Wasted Legacy of William Jefferson Clinton”.

  11. Robert Capozzi

    re: gp’s point: Does Barr 08’s debts go with Barr personally? I wouldn’t think so. If he establishes a committee to run for Congress, I’d think that’d be a separate entity…. anyone know otherwise?

  12. NewFederalist

    If he decides to do this will he have to resign from the National Committee? I assume he is a life member of the party (like Ron Paul) so I would guess he does not have to resign from party membership. As for whether or not he should run as a Republican, one can only say that his chances are immeasurably better than as a Libertarian.

  13. Thomas L. Knapp


    It might be a separate entity legally — but it won’t be reputationally.

    Even across parties, campaign workers are a pretty close family — and one much given to gossip.

    Candidates whose campaigns don’t pay their bills quickly find that their calls stop getting returned when it’s time to recruit staff for the next campaign.

  14. Robert Capozzi

    15 tk, I’d think a congressional campaign is a different thing. A Donald Trump organization went bankrupt, but people still do business with him…

  15. Thomas L. Knapp

    RC @ 17,

    Well, yes, it’s a different thing in many ways.

    Among other things, it is a different office and a different party.

    That may make some difference, especially if Barr has big backers for a GOP presidential campaign who weren’t interested in supporting an LP presidential campaign.

    BUT … saying there’s a difference is not the same as saying that there won’t be “this guy’s campaigns shaft their staffers” problems.

    He’ll have a harder time finding quality campaign workers, and those workers will be more likely to work on a cash and carry basis rather than the “we’ll pay you this much now and the rest later, because we’re light on cash now but surely things will look up soon” that campaign workers often accept.

  16. Steven Wilson

    With the current leadership of the LNC, can’t blame him for using his brain and leaving. He made his money and he published his book. Now, in his end moments, he will try to define his legacy.

    Somewhat like Lego.

  17. Robert Capozzi

    19 tk, agreed. Non-payment of contractors and employees is a deterrent to future ones.

    20 sw, do you have reason to believe that Barr made money on the book? Evidence, if so…

  18. JT

    Interesting that some Libertarians are just assuming that if Barr runs for the Republican nomination for House Rep. that he’s not going to back away from some libertarian-leaning views. He does have a bit of a history of repudiating previous positions. Granted, he probably wouldn’t do so to the extent that he has before–that would be too transparently opportunistic. But who’s to say he won’t disavow some libertarian-leaning views on important issues that he doesn’t think will resonate with district conservatives, as well as downplay any association with the LP?

    I’m not hoping that happens, obviously, and I’m not saying it would in this case. But I also wouldn’t say that I’d vote for him before I heard exactly what he says publicly if and when he enters the race.

  19. Robert Capozzi

    22 jt, true enough. IF Barr runs for Congress as a R, it’ll be interesting to see how his messaging will change. It seems highly likely that it will change, at least to some extent.

    Excellent point about “repudiation”…pols almost never do so. Their job is communicate ideas that get them elected and perhaps to educate. I don’t think Romney “repudiates” his former pro-choice position, he just says he had a change of heart. Politics is a swirl of grays, and politicians tack in certain directions for a range of reasons. Do TOO much of this and they seem like flip floppers. Do too little of this and they sound like one-dimensional, inflexible ideological zealots.

  20. Jeremy C. Young

    There is a niche for a mainstream conservative in this race, which is what Barr used to be…but I’m not sure Barr can fill it at this point. Certainly he will back away from some issues like ending the drug war, but his opponent is going to blast him incessantly for having been the Presidential nominee of another party. The reality is that neither Barr nor Graves is a particularly mainstream Republican at this point; there might in fact be a niche for a third Republican to take them both out.

  21. Tom Blanton

    The reality is that neither Barr nor Graves is a particularly mainstream Republican at this point; there might in fact be a niche for a third Republican to take them both out.

    Perhaps a serious Republican candidate, like Newt Gingrich. A Republican’s Republican – tanned, rested and ready.

  22. Steven Wilson


    No, I don’t have any data, I was just acknowledging the standard procedure to run for office nationally. His swan song is a big swing for the fences one more time. The book deal is part of the procedure. I personally doubt that he made money from it, but it is now part of his legacy, for what that is worth. I would say that running nationally, you need a book and maybe now even a TV show or radio show to go with it. You would have to shut it down to run, but it seems to be another stepping stone for the national stage.

    Georgia is a unique state in regards to parties. Barr fits their profile for the 90’s. The Georgia LP is very active and John Monds made a significant move, so being a flip flop candidate won’t hurt him, as much as his personality will.

    I get the feeling Georgia and it’s financial state need a huge influx of youth to motivate the people. Barr was considered old school GOP and he was not liked for taking on the redistricting and Linder when they redrew the map.

    If I were his strategist I would get him to promote the fair tax as much as possible. I would train him to be an expert in it. The fair tax could be his brand mantra to prove he is in the present and not trying to relive old glory.

  23. CommonTater

    Let’s hope not.

    It’s a really, really bad tax plan, even much worse than the one we have now, which is also terrible.

    The only thing that’s even worse than the Boortz/Linder (not so) fair tax plan that is being considered is Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 (aka 6-6-6) plan.
    In practice they are both likely to be merged to birth some kind of strange blood sucking monstrous parasite of a tax from hell.

  24. Jeremy C. Young

    I think Justin Amash is more of a Tea Party guy than a Libertarian guy, so of course he supports Graves. I don’t think that’s news. Barr may be a Libertarian and he may be a mainstream Republican, but by no stretch of the imagination is he a Tea Party guy.

  25. Starchild

    To what extent Bob Barr has come to sincerely hold libertarian views, and to what extent he will stand by those views to the extent he does hold them, seems like anybody’s guess to me.

    As Republicans in Congress go he probably wouldn’t too bad, but I don’t think he’s ever really shown himself to be trustworthy (see e.g. the Bovard ghostwriting scandal) or committed to the libertarian movement.

    I wonder how many of the Libertarians who supported him for the party’s presidential nomination in 2008 would have done so had they known that his visible association with the party would pretty much end after that election, and that he would be contemplating going back to the Republicans less than three years later.

    Personally I won’t be sorry to see him running as a Republican again though. His positions have never been strongly and reliably libertarian enough to make him suitable as a Libertarian candidate. In the GOP he might actually do some good, especially if he mends his fences with Ron Paul, whereas in the LP all he did was tarnish our reputation and dilute our message.

  26. Starchild

    Snubbing Ron Paul’s alternative party press conference was a terrible move for sure (Jill @5), but the most unforgivable thing Barr did in my book was urging LP convention delegates to select Wayne Allyn Root as his running mate rather than Steve Kubby.

    He could have just as easily run with Kubby, since he pretty much completely ignored Root during the campaign anyway, and I believe the LP would be in significantly better shape today had he done so.

  27. George Phillies

    He did ask Ruwart. She declined.

    He could have asked Gravel, who would have added a lot of ‘former job credibility’.

    He could have asked at least one other candidate, not I, who could have brought as much capitalist credibility, and considerable money to the campaign.

    He worked down the list.

  28. George Phillies

    OF course, the then senior LNC member said to be running for election again could have kept his mouth shut rather than asking him to run, but that didn’t happen either.

  29. Jeremy C. Young

    Or he could have asked Dan Imperato, which would have made him the only Presidential candidate with a Knight of Malta as his running mate. That was obviously the best choice available and would have given him a leg up on the competition.

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  30. George Phillies

    The one other candidate? not a top finisher, but had a very great deal of money, enough that he would have self-funded his VP campaign and not noticed.

    I again remind people that when you are a Presidential candidate, and become a VP candidate, your campaign accounts, books, etc. legally merge into the Presidential campaigns.

  31. Jeremy C. Young

    You’re clearly talking about Jingozian. But I’m not convinced that would have worked. Jingo didn’t seem to spend a whole lot of money on his own campaign, and if he had, it doesn’t seem to have made a difference. (I did see him running Facebook ads for his own Presidential campaign some three months after the race had been decided — not particularly adept at allocating resources, apparently.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like Jingozian. I’m just not sure he would have been the David Koch of this Presidential ticket in any meaningful way.

  32. RedPhillips

    As someone from Georgia, let me fill you in on the Tom Graves issue. Graves is a weak candidate not because of his positions on issues, but because he has an embarrassing past bankruptcy that won’t go away. Graves won a very crowded special election and then was challenged again in the next regular election. Yahoo Tom Graves Bankruptcy for details.

  33. Darryl W. Perry

    Looking at the list of Presidential candidates from 2008; I guess you’re referring to Alden Link, who btw was/is also the Objectivist Party Candidate for Vice-President (on the ticket with Tom Stevens).

  34. Jeremy C. Young

    George clearly said at the beginning that the candidate wasn’t himself. And I generally consider George to be a reasonable man, so I would highly doubt he could consider Alden “Crazy Old Coot” Link to be a reasonable candidate for anything.

  35. Alaska Constitution Party

    Interesting that there seems to be a move of former LP members into the Republican Party, while there are several Republicans joining the Constitution Party and running as candidates. Just saying…

  36. Jackson Baker

    Barr is a fraud. He never changed his views. Crawl back to the Republican Party and stay there.

  37. Hugh Mann

    But I still maintain George was talking about Imperato. Becoming a Knight of Malta, not to mention a Papal Knight, takes gobs and gobs of cash.

    Compelling explanation.

    Unfortuantely, Doc Phillies prefers to keep us guessing.

  38. Yo Ming

    Shocking headline of the year.

    Bob Barr always was and is still a Republican.

    In other news. Mike Gravel always was and is still a Democrat.

    Like, duh.

  39. Moderate Pragmatic Libertaryan

    I like Bob Barr’s plan.

    It seems to be a lot like Ron Paul’s:

    First, get elected to Congress as a Republican.

    Then, run for president as a Libertarian.

    Then, get elected to Congress as a Republican again.

    Finally, run for president as a Republican.

    All while remaining ideologically consistent the whole time!

  40. BoorRatt 2008

    USAmerican comrades, please to remain calm and do not lose faith in our comrade Mr. Bob Barr.

    I have share cheese from my wife’s tit with Congressman Barr. Bob Barr is no fifth column, infidel traitor. You must to believe me.

    When Bob Barr is elected to glorious USA Soviet from Georgia Republic representator, libertarian world revolution sure is to be around next corner.

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