This reporter attended the Libertarian Party of Florida convention on Saturday in West Palm Beach.
LNC Executive Director Wes Benedict spoke early in the day, talking about the challenge of persuading people effectively. He offered a mild libertarian vision (cut military less than 50 percent, minor reductions in social security). The attendees responded with a standing ovation.
The business portion of the meeting was dominated by discussions about party offices and proposed amendments to the LPF Constitution and By-Laws. The most humorous moment of this part was when one attendee stood up and suggested that anyone who comments should state their name before they begin speaking. He was then asked for his name.
While the meeting seemed to run smoothly to this reporter, one member of the Executive Committee complained to those around him about how it was being run.
The agenda item for party nominations was apparently an error, as these are not supposed to be done by vote at convention but rather appointed by the Executive Committee.
The various motions to amend the constitution and by-laws – and to amend the proposed amendments, – led to lively discussion.
There was a long lunch break including a presidential debate. All four candidates present spoke well. Feldman was the comedian and had the audience laughing almost every time he spoke. Johnson had the most gravitas and was the most boring. Perry was the purest, repeatedly using the phrase “maximum liberty.” Petersen had an impressive debate performance. He took a somewhat purist libertarian approach, with some attendees remarking that may not be consistent with some of his past position statements.
During the debate there was a huge tiff over Johnson’s campaign debt. Darryl Perry made a reference to campaign debt without mentioning Johnson by name. Johnson interrupted Perry in violation of the debate rules and protested vigorously. At one point the moderator cut Johnson’s microphone off.
This has been a long-running criticism of Johnson, including here on IPR in 2013. On his turn, Johnson asserted that the FEC will not allow his campaign to treat the debt as a write-off and reassured attendees that contributions to his campaign will not go to pay off debt.
During a discussion of foreign policy it struck this reporter that many of the candidates don’t seem to understand that the president’s power in foreign policy is plenary.
John McAfee was not in the debate. It seemed well understood within the attendees that this was a glitch and not McAfee’s fault. One of our sources (consistent with what we heard at the event) tells us:
The LPF originally booked JM for a speaking slot, not a debate— later in the day— and they made their travel plans. At some point prior to the event (but with sufficient time to change their plans apparently) they learned it would be a debate and earlier but to change plans would have cost the campaign several thousand dollars which they did not feel was fair nor a wise investment after the candidates just debated less than 24 hours previously so they came as originally planned and LPF gave him a speaking slot.
After the debate there was a straw poll. Gary Johnson received the most votes but did not get a majority. The total was:
- 41 Gary Johnson
- 29 Austin Petersen
- 8 Marc Feldman
- 7 Darryl Perry
- 1 None of the Above
US Senate candidate Augustus Invictus was present at the event. There is a general sense that the LPF’s EC will not support him, but so far there does not appear to be another candidate. Invictus said he might submit himself to the LPF’s candidate selection committee. If not, or if they don’t support him, he will post a filing fee to get on primary ballot. The primary is August 30th. It is this reporter’s understanding that if Invictus is the only one who files, he will be the candidate on the November ballot.