Jim Webb publicly considers ditching Dems for independent presidential campaign

via The Hill:

Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb will consider an independent bid for president amid protests by the candidate that the Democratic Party rigged last week’s debate for Hillary Clinton.

Webb’s campaign emailed out details to a press conference for Tuesday at the National Press Club with the subject line: “Jim Webb to consider independent run.”

During last week’s debate, he only had the chance to speak for 15 minutes compared to about 30 minutes for Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, according to NPR.

Jim Webb served one term as the Democratic Senator from Virginia from 2007 to 2013. Before that, he served as Secretary of the Navy in the latter years of the Reagan administration.

Copyright law professor and single-issue advocate of campaign finance reform Lawrence Lessig has made similar comments, after he was not allowed to participate at all in the first Democratic debate.

40 thoughts on “Jim Webb publicly considers ditching Dems for independent presidential campaign

  1. Richard Winger

    It’s ironic that the trigger that persuaded Gary Johnson to leave the Republican Party was also that he was not treated fairly in primary season debates (in 2012).

  2. Andy

    “Jed Ziggler

    October 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    Sounds to me like Americans (didn’t) Elect finally found a candidate.”

    If so, it will cost them a heck of a lot more money to get on the ballot than what they were spending the last time, because the last time they tried they started the ballot access process much earlier, and they spent on obscene amount of money the last time, so it is hard to fathom how much money they’d end up spending if the want to put a candidate for President on the ballot in all 50 states plus Washington DC.

  3. William Saturn

    Bloomberg will never support Webb because Webb supports gun rights. I see Lawrence Lessig as more of an “Americans Elect” type candidate. Maybe Webb will consider the Libertarian Party. Remember the Webb event with Jim Gray (though it never happened). Gray later said that Webb “would be an attractive candidate” for the LP nomination.

  4. Andy Craig Post author

    From what I saw reported, AE filed notice to the states to withdraw its ballot access and that they were dissolving, after the effort fell apart in 2012. In at least one state, they successfully fought an effort by the state organization to retain the control of the AE ballot line (and give it to Johnson/Gray).

    I’m not sure if there are any states left where they still have nominal ballot access, but certainly not most of the ones they got in 2012, and if there are any left AE’s successor organization has no intention of using them in 2016. They took active steps to destroy the ballot lines they’d spent millions creating, and Americans Elect as such doesn’t even exist anymore, so it’s not clear how or if anybody could nominate an AE candidate, even if there are any states left that would put one on the ballot.

  5. Andy Craig Post author

    If Webb was better on economics and size of government issues, I can almost see him as a potential LP candidate. I would understand why somebody would think that, at least. But dig into more of his details, and I don’t see it working out. For example he voted for Obamacare (though he said he regrets it), for Dodd-Frank, and most other things passed by the Dems during their last time in control of the Senate..

    On most of the topics he disagrees with Dems on, he does so in a more libertarian direction. But those differences seem bigger and more numerous than they are, when he’s running as a Dem. (Kind of like how a Rand Paul or Steve Forbes can seem like relative libertarians when they’re running as Republicans.) In other words he isn’t a libertarian, he’s a centrist Democrat who just looks like a relative libertarian next to the four other hyper-progressive quasi-socialists on stage.

    He’s an interesting character, I’m inclined to like him personally, and like Jesse Ventura or Angus King or Bill Walker, it sure would be nice if he was more libertarian. But he isn’t.

    Having said all that, he is a lot closer to being a Libertarian than the last Democratic ex-Senator who sought the LP nomination. And hey, if we can nominate a candidate who voted for the Patriot Act but apologizes for it, we can always even that out by nominating a candidate who voted for Obamacare but apologizes for it. 😉

  6. David

    Arizona might still have an Americans Elect ballot Line, if they haven’t lost it. Wasn’t Web a Republican at one time?

  7. NewFederalist

    How about a Johnson-Webb (or Webb-Johnson) ticket? A former Republican governor and a former Democratic U.S. Senator. It might not be the most purely libertarian ticket the party ever nominated but in this crazy political year who knows? I think Jim Webb makes more sense than Jesse Ventura. My first choice is a hybrid clone of Harry Browne and Ed Clark but that just isn’t happening!

  8. ATBAFT

    “A former Republican governor and a former Democratic U.S. Senator. ”

    It would certainly answer the pleas for more bi-partisanship in politics. And the results – predictably under 2% – would prove American voters love bi-partisanship only in theory but
    reject it in practice.

  9. paulie

    I don’t know how close they are but if they are close at all that would not be a good recommendation for the LP ticket.

  10. Richard Winger

    Technically, Americans Elect is still on the Arizona ballot, but if it doesn’t have its registration up to two-thirds of 1% by the November 1, 2015 tally, it will go off. And it won’t have its registration anywhere near that level, with only 11 days to go.

  11. Andy Craig Post author

    “Wasn’t Web a Republican at one time?”

    Yes, when he was Reagan’s Secretary of the Navy, even though that isn’t necessarily a partisan post. According to him, he switched parties right after that.

  12. NewFederalist

    “Johnson Webb would be a fine Americans Elect ticket, but either of them would be terrible for the LP ticket.” – George Phillies

    While that may well be true it would be a lot better than the Barr-Root ticket! In many ways superior to the Johnson-Gray ticket. Like I said earlier, I would prefer an ideological libertarian but I don’t see one in the race that will attract any attention whatsoever.

  13. paulie

    I’m all for some flexibility, but 60/30 or 60/20 or whatever they scored Webb at seems pretty far from our ballpark. Did anyone else look over the details? Johnson and Gray may not be plumbliners but they are indistinguishable from the most hardcore Rothbardians when compared with Webb.

    I like the idea of balance but look at the details at least somewhat.

  14. Gene Berkman

    Jim Webb does not have enough support or financial backing to run an independent campaign for President. He probably is mentioning the possibility of an independent run as face-saving to cover his withdrawal from the Democratic race.

    His views are too idiosyncratic to fit in either the Democrat or Republican Party framework, and too idiosyncratic to command a large following as an independent. And while we might appreciate Mr Webb’s opposition to the Vietnam War, he is not even close to being a libertarian.

    Regardless of what some people say – Gary Johnson represented the viewpoint of less government, fiscal conservatism and social liberalism in a race that brought a record vote to the Libertarian Presidential ticket, so suggesting that Gary Johnson would be “a disaster” for the LP is absurd, especially coming from someone who is so distant from plumbline libertarianism himself.

  15. paulie

    Jim Webb does not have enough support or financial backing to run an independent campaign for President.

    I haven’t looked at the numbers. but he was in a nationally televised TV debate that apparently was high rated for such things recently, he has been a US Senator and cabinet secretary among other things. I don’t see him, say, competing to actually win, or even making the general election debates (unless we win Fair Debates lawsuits from the courts in time and they don’t come up with some other scheme to thwart us, which seems a bit optimistic), but it’s possible he could come up with enough money to get on most state ballots – maybe run a John Anderson or at least Ralph Nader level campaign. He may also overestimate his support wildly, as crossovers often do, and fall flat on his face because he doesn’t know the realities of getting on the ballot and getting coverage outside the duopoly – but that doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t try.

    And, who knows, he may even do much better than expected – say, if the Republicans and Democrats nominate candidates that alienate large chunks of their base (and it’s quite plausible that one or both of them will this time) and if no other “major” independents end up getting in. I wouldn’t rate that as likely, but I also would not rate it as completely implausible.

  16. Andy Craig Post author

    Secretary of the Navy is not a Cabinet position, not since the Secretary of Defense was created during the Truman administration. All of the service secretaries are subject to SecDef within the DoD, so he wouldn’t have attended Cabinet meetings with Reagan, wasn’t in the line of succession to the Presidency, etc. If he wasn’t using it as one of his credentials to run for President, I doubt anybody would even remember that he was Secretary of the Navy. Without googling it, can you name a single other one? Much less one who held the position for less than a year, three decades ago?

    The fact that he was more recently a Senator might help get his foot in the door, but it’s also just as much a liability, in that his voting record while a member of Harry Reid’s majority cuts heavily against most of the appeal of his reputation. I just don’t see that the center-right folks who cheered him on for opposing gun control and talking about killing a man in Vietnam and bragging about his Reagan connection, will retain any sort of energy for him once they’re reminded he twice endorsed Obama, and voted for PPACA, Dodd-Frank, etc. etc.

    Funny thing is, contra his current reputation, it was originally “netroots” progressives who recruited him to run for Senate. But they did so because they wanted a candidate who could win a red-leaning seat in a purple state, not necessarily because they thought of Webb as one of their own.

  17. paulie

    The fact that he was more recently a Senator might help get his foot in the door, but it’s also just as much a liability, in that his voting record while a member of Harry Reid’s majority cuts heavily against most of the appeal of his reputation. I just don’t see that the center-right folks who cheered him on for opposing gun control and talking about killing a man in Vietnam and bragging about his Reagan connection, will retain any sort of energy for him once they’re reminded he twice endorsed Obama, and voted for PPACA, Dodd-Frank, etc. etc.

    I guess he could tout his independence from them on guns and whatever other issues. I don’t know how much of a constituency his particular mix of views would have. It would depend on a lot of things ranging from how well his campaign is run, to catching some breaks in terms of soundbites or viral videos or whatever else, to outside factors of just how hated the demopublicans nominees end up being and who else may be in the alt party and independent mix, etc.

  18. Allan Collum

    Webb was the only one on stage that I was comfortable with in relationship to foreign policy as a Tea Party member…..Jim what to hell are you up there with Socialists and weaklings?

  19. Ted Brown

    Andy Craig: I doubt anybody would even remember that he was Secretary of the Navy.

    Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt were both Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and FDR was even nominated for VP in 1920 while holding that rather lowly post.

  20. paulie

    According to the list linked by Saturn above, Teddy Roosevelt was the acting Secretary of the Navy from March 10-19, 1924.

  21. steve m

    Paulie is essentially correct in that Jim Webb had better get a significantly rich supporter or he wouldn’t make the ballot. Former jobs and political positions are good for gaining name recognition but they won’t be enough. On the other hand, the US average household income is just over $50K so if enough households economically vote by donating $25 to a candidate running against the statuesque. Say, 1 million families and they pick Jim Webb as their White Night. Then Jim Webb would be a decent chance but still long shot independent presidential candidate.

  22. Andy Craig Post author

    @Ted Brown

    True, but at the time there was only one Asst. Secretary of the Navy, who was the immediate subordinate of a Cabinet-level Secretary of the Navy. That office was abolished in 1954, and there are now four Assistant Secretaries of the Navy for different tasks within the department, and they answer to a Secretary of the Navy who is himself subordinate to a Secretary of Defense ,
    T.R. and FDR weren’t the only Roosevelts to hold the title, by the way. No fewer than five Roosevelts held that office, the two future Presidents plus three of their relatives.

  23. steve m

    status quo not statuesque and damn my life ling conflict with spell checkers… I need one that pops up with definitions as it makes suggestions.

  24. Andy Craig Post author

    Anyway, my point was not that no historically relevant figures have used the office as a launching point for higher office. They have. It’s just not as good a platform for that today as it once was. I think the rough equivalent of a hypothetical Jim Webb who hadn’t been a Senator running, would be Mark Everson, the former IRS Commissioner who’s running as a Republican. He’s technically recognized as a bona fide candidate by the RNC, but not by anyone else.

  25. NewFederalist

    “…suggesting that Gary Johnson would be “a disaster” for the LP is absurd, especially coming from someone who is so distant from plumbline libertarianism himself.” – Gene Berkman

    Who said that? I cannot find anyone on this thread that said that. George Phillies said Johnson “…would be terrible for the LP ticket.” Is that who you were referring to? I’m not trying to start a flame war I just am looking for clarity.

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