AZ Governor: A Potential Race to Watch

While my official work is over in Phoenix, my wife and I are staying over for a couple of days with Barry Hess, one of my friends in the movement. Hess and his family are perfect hosts, and we are enjoying spending time with Barry, Gina, and Zelig. Gina’s lasagna is awesome, btw.

As some of you are aware, Hess has been toying with the notion of running for Governor of Arizona. He is a Fordham University graduate and successful local businessman.

I’ve been witness to several key Republicans in Arizona trying to persuade Barry to run for office as a Republican. Saturday night, I heard one significant elected Republican state these sentiments in public (working on getting a copy of the film clip now). The non-RINO Republican crowd here seems to really like Hess.

This morning’s news shows (coverage of the coverage starting already) why. The public support for the two Republican contenders for Governor is very weak. Hess hasn’t announced any intent to run, but they are already polling him at 5-6% as a Libertarian. The way I (preliminarily) read these numbers, with an active campaign (especially as a Republican), Hess could be a very serious contender.

Even as I’ve been drinking my morning coffee at Barry’s house, reporters are contacting him to see when and if he plans to announce.

Hess has stated, in public, that he would consider running as a Republican. He added the caveat that that he would swap parties immediately upon being elected, though. Republicans are still courting him, nonetheless.

In light of the the ongoing conversation on the topic, I thought I’d bring up today’s practical example. If you were Hess, would you run? If so, would you run as an R or an L?

36 Comments
  1. *puts on strategy hat*

    If the Republicans want to pay for him, I say by all means he should run on their ticket and use their fund-raising machine to get into office. Then, he can shred the attachment in a come-to-liberty moment and say the “L” word all he wants once he’s elected. If he’s a popular governor, the GOP would be in a tough situation to try and unseat him later as an incumbent, especially in light of them putting him in.

    If done right, he could flip the notion of the Liberty Reform Caucus on it’s head… there’d be GOPers trying to work to gain status in the LP.

  2. Yeah, I say go in as a Republican. If the two are weak off the bat, and he hasn’t even announced candidacy but it pulling 5% as a Libertarian, he could possibly win. He could run a quasi-fusion campaign possibly, which would actually compel the center vote to go for him more than if he ran as a “pure” Republican.

    Then he could change affiliation after election, possibly. I don’t know if that would be the best timing or not. It could cause an exodus of “limited government” conservatives, which is both good and bad. It is conceivable that such a thing would cause a lot of pressure elsewhere in the GOP to abandon ship and when that happened, Bush and Co. could be under withering fire from their own former party-mates. I think a lot of Republicans must surely be tired of walking on egg shells. Maybe I am wrong on that count.

    I say run and run as a Libertarian on the Republican ticket. The Democratic candidate might have serious trouble under such circumstances.

  3. Yes, thus this paragraph:

    Hess has stated, in public, that he would consider running as a Republican. He added the caveat that that he would swap parties immediately upon being elected, though. Republicans are still courting him, nonetheless.

  4. Yeah, by all means he should run on the Republican ticket. I would be very careful about having anything laying around from sources close to Hess about him possibly switching parties after election, though, because that could kill him in the primary. It wouldn’t matter in the general election, though.

    But I’d say if he could generate enough enthusiasm to capture the GOP nomination, go for it on that. I don’t care if he’s Democrat or Republican so long as he’s libertarian.

  5. Too late on keeping it under wraps around Arizona – but I would have followed the same strategy.

  6. This is a no-brainer. He needs to run as a Republican–especially if they are courting him. Take the money, the publicity, the enormous sum of the contributions, and the name recognition.
    As someone astutely pointed out at last year’s Florida LP convention, our goal is not to elect Libertarians to office, our goal is promote liberty. It shouldn’t matter to us if that means campaigning for a Larry McDonald Democrat, or a Ron Paul Republican.

  7. There is a disadvantage of running as a Republican, too. If he loses the GOP primary, he can’t run as a Libertarian.

  8. Stephen Gordon: Well, the disadvantage of running on the LP ticket in the first place pretty much outweighs that possibility. I hate to say it, but sneaking libertarians into office under the oppo banners might be our breakthrough strategy in finally ripping the 2-party system from within.

    If Hess pulls this off and later points it out as an example of disastrous our election process has become, people’s ears might just perk up to what we’ve been saying for years.

  9. The more I think about getting elected as a Republicrat and then officially switching to the Libertarian Party once elected, the more I like the idea. This is the perfect way to overcome their manipulation of the election system, ballot access laws, media blackouts etc. What a slap in the face it would be! I love it!

  10. Ron Paul is a lifetime LP member, isn’t he? I think we’re talking registration, not membership. He might have to register as a Republican, or join the Republican party, but there’s no reason he can’t remain a Libertarian, is there? You’d have to check the R’s rules and possibly state codes to see what’s required to qualify as an R candidate.

  11. hmmm… i’m all for seeing libertarians in office. still, i have to wonder whether running as a rep. is really the right way to go about it. yeah, we should want the guy in office… but at all costs?

    and if the AZ media gets ahold of this “changing parties as soon as i’m elected” thing, do you really think that the *real* republicans there would still vote for him?

    just my thoughts.

  12. I found this quote to be interesting:

    “The non-RINO Republican crowd here seems to really like Hess.”

    So by “non-RINO” you mean the hardcore conservative right crowd that doesn’t believe in civil liberties and thinks that gays are destroying America. Is that his “base”, doesn’t sound too libertarian to me? Maybe a RINO is different in AZ than it is here in TX.

  13. Bill,

    I realize that there are very few Republicans in office who act as though they are in favor of limited government. However, there are a lot of Republican voters who vote for GOP candidates because they believe that their Republican candidates are for smaller or more limited government.

    By non-RINO, I meant the Republicans who actually believe in small government.

  14. Who cares if he changes labels once elected? Libertarians sling Ron Paul’s name like dollar bills in a Dallas club. That he votes in a manner consistent with our positions is great. It takes away (some of) the misguided notions that our ideas are little bastard children- that we are on the fringe of American thought. But we have seen what blind party loyalty can be. (see Republican or Democratic parties and their most extreme supporters) Any candidate who understands that personal and economic freedom is essential must be considered- no matter the ticket.

  15. Clear Stephen thanks. I agree the Republican electorate in general is much more in the small govt. mode than their elected officials. Unfortuately it seems the electorate is also becoming much more partisan, which is limiting the ability of the electorate to hold the two parties accountable for the delivering on their respective election year promises. I.E. my worst guy is always better than your best guy.

  16. I understand the fiscal reasoning for letting the republicans support him. With that said I think it is caving in to the current major party ideal yet again! Let me give you an example so that you understand my vehemence toward Barry running as a republican….

    During the Badnarik presidential campaign I sent link after link to my father letting him know about Badnarik. In the end he voted for Bush “because the libertarian candidate had no chance of winning”. And he was the one that introduced me to the Libertarian party.

    How can we ask the vast populace to vote for our candidates if when we spitball and plan we capitulate and acquiesce to the status quo…

    Example: Oh I totally think he should run as a republican “cause then he might ACTUALLY have a chance to win”…

    by compromising principals!? Not sure it is worth it…. I’d rather be the party of change than the party that succumbs to status quo…

  17. Any candidate who understands that personal and economic freedom is essential must be considered- no matter the ticket.

    Yeah… can’t we just get rid of the tickets!? Let’s all put our heads down palms toward us and cast our vote with fingers in the air…

    index for reps
    middle for libertarians
    ring for dems

    ;-)

  18. Who cares if he changes labels once elected?

    I agree, Michelle. It makes no difference to me as long as the candidate is one of ours. I think it would actually be a bad idea to change parties once in office if one plans to run for re-election.

    Libertarians sling Ron Paul’s name like dollar bills in a Dallas club.

    Alas, ’tis the only name we have to sling. Although I used to sling Phillip Crane’s name back when he voted in accordance with the Constitution.

  19. I’m not quite sure what you mean by “fusion” states, Stephen, but I fail to understand how any law could prevent two parties from nominating the same person.

  20. OpenTorrent, we are not suggesting compromising principles. We are suggesting making a move to overcome the overwhelming obstacle that your Dad presented. All without becoming a socialist/fascist.

  21. OK, index finger red, middle finger purple and ring finger blue. WAIT- Isn’t the ring finger the one of commitment? Swap the blue and purple.

  22. Seriously, aren’t we supposed to be promoting freedom? Playing government like the other parties will serve only to discredit us. What was that quote? The absolute power one? Off to bed- gotta go experience my dreams in the only place likely to make it happen- my pillow-top mattress.

  23. No matter which way it goes down, Hess will not accept government campaign financing, if this helps.

  24. There seems to be much confusion regarding use of the term “RiNO”, to the point of being meaningless. Is Ron Paul a RiNO because he’s not like the rest of his Republican peers in Washington, or are all the modern Neocons RiNOs because they betray virtually all of the small government rhetoric the Republican Party has traditionally (at least since the Goldwater era) employed?

  25. RINO is an acronym for Republican In Name Only. The only usage I’ve seen is that describing those who oppose the administration’s statist doctrines.

  26. This is my first posting to this site. In essence, as to the debate over whether Hess should run on a Republican ticket: In a *Republican* state, a *Democrat* has held the governor’s seat in the largest city for quite some time. Most Republicans, knowing that Hess would change parties thereafter, would still see it as an act to remove an entrenched Democrat. And if he should switch to Libertarian, it would only make it easier for a “real” Republican to win therafter. Falls back to that “my worst guy vs. your best guy” mentality. Their worst guy isn’t a “real” Republican — but at least he’s not a *gasp* Democrat.

    Me, I’m all for that. I’d vote for him hands down. And I’d castigate and prod everyone I knew to do the same.

  27. I faced this same decision recently. I filed as a Libertarian for State Senate against a Democrat. Shortly thereafter the Republican who was contemplating this race dropped out. Subsequently several highly placed Republicans asked me to switch to the Republican line. I researched this carefully and concluded that my chances of winning would not be enhanced in this left leaning district. Furthermore, I could expect no financial support to arrive automatically just be filing as a Republican as no one would give me much of a chance to win anyway.

    So I am running as a Libertarian and, lo and behold, many progressive Democrats are getting interested in my race. It seems that my opponent did many things in his former stint as mayor of Austin that peeved many environmentalists and others in his “base”. As a Libertarian candidate, these people are much more willing to support me than if I had been running as a Democrat. So no I am actually gearing up for an active race.

  28. Artus, I am familiar with the RiNO acronym, but have found inconsistencies with its usage. I guess it all depends on whether one is defining “Republican” by the current statist, neocon standard or by the limited government standard Republicans often preached in recent memory. I’d have to say the former definition (and yours) makes more sense the only claim Republicans can make to limited government, even throughout the Reagan administration, is a bunch of hot air.

  29. Barry’s situation is different from mine and I would have no problems if he decided to run as a Republican. In fact I would be willing to draft a change to the LP Bylaws that would allow the LP to endorse a former LP candidate if he or she subsequently decides to run under some other party banner. As a Texan it has been frustrating to me that our state has been precluded from explicity supporting Ron Paul.
    As we increase our level of political sophistication it makes sense to me to change this prohibition which may have been necessary in the early days to prevent the party from being overrun by others, but now just stands in our way as we try to make a difference in the political arena.

  30. Well said, Rock.

    Hess’s situation would be one where there would be no violation of principle. Plus he would be eliminating some of his own competition by playing Republican. As I said – he could make it clear he was Libertarian running a a Republican. Usually when this happens, the LPer is put into an unwinnable race against a Dem and ignored and marginalized as fodder where there was no other (Republican) candidate. Cases like Ron Paul’s and (possibly) Hess’s are the EXCEPTION, not the rule. By no means should LPers go out and start playing Republican. This is clearly an unusual and advantageous and not unprincipled situation.

  31. The problem with switching parties after the election is that it would dampen the enthusiasm of Republicans to support Libertarians in future races. It’s a one-time strategy.

    If the LP (or some other third party) has a viable candidate, simple mathematics favor running under the banner of the dominant major party in that state in the primary. Why? Because turnout in the primaries is usually miniscule — 20% would be a lot, and only half of that is in each major party.

    To win a major party primary, a candidate thus needs to motivate only 5% of the electorate to get out and vote. In the general election, the average voter simply votes out of habit for the party they always vote for.

    To win on a third-party ticket in the general election (assuming 50% turnout), a candidate needs to motivate 17% of the electorate to support him or her. If one major party is dominant, the numbers go up from there.

  32. Barry should run as a R. His idea of switching parties after elected is great because the voters won’t confuse his politics with Republican politics. If he does a good job governing, then voters will reelect him no matter what his party affiliation is at that point, and we’ll have elected our first Libertarian governor.

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