Bill Weld as a Libertarian Party Candidate in New York?

According to the NY Daily News, former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld may be seeking the LP nomination to run for governnor in New York. I’ve spoken with Shane Cory and John Clifton today, both of whom confirmed the rumor. Here’s the story:

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill Weld is sailing into uncharted waters in New York Republican politics: He’s making a major run to line up the backing of the tiny Libertarian Party.

Weld confirmed to the Daily News last night that he would “definitely be interested” in winning the Libertarian line

“‘Libertarian’ is not a bad word in my lexicon,” he said, noting one of his favorite expressions is: “I want the government out of your pocketbook and out of your bedroom.”

The debate already brewing at ThirdPartyWatch, my initial source for this story:

Austin Cassidy: This sounds like it might be a really good move for the NY Libertarians.

Tim West: The LP would be insane to not take him. Bill Weld is about as libertarian as a candidate that a sigificant number of voters would accept.

Joe: The Republican Liberty Caucus of New York has expressed reservations about Weld. He seems to be on both sides of the eminent domain issue.

George Phillies: Weld is not in any normal sense a libertarian. Mind you, I live in Massachusetts, and in 1996 the state LP has me as its potential Senate candidate against Weld. Weld is a classical moderate Republican.

Brian Grant: My question of Mr. Weld would be this: If he loses the Republican primary will he still run an “active” campaign if he should get the Libertarian endorsement. If the answer is “yes” then I think the LPNY should endorse him in spite of his “imperfection”.

Kyle B: If Mr. Weld will run a active campaign even if he loses the Republican primary then I think the LPNY should strongly consider endorsing him

Jared: But with that same logic George W. Bush would be part libertarian because of the tax “cuts”, that doesn’t mean he should be endorsed or supported by the Libertarian Party.

Hardy: This should be seen as a momentum builder. If the LP is to go mainstream this sounds like the place to start; this year. Weld might be the first of many disenfranchised Republicans looking for a party that is fiscally responsible and socially tolerant than the Bushites.

Brian Grant: If a candidate who is only 30% Libertarian is willing to accept the LP nomination and it leads to ballot position where dozens of 100% Libertarians are able to run, I say go for it.

With the contentious nominations of Loretta Nall and Keven Zeese out of the way, I thought inside the party debate might slow down a bit. I guess I was mistaken.

UPDATE: Brian Doherty popped us a link over at Hit & Run. Some of the comments there are interesting, as well.

Stephen Gordon

I like tasteful cigars, private property, American whiskey, fast cars, hot women, pre-bailout Jeeps, fine dining, worthwhile literature, low taxes, original music, personal privacy and self-defense rights -- but not necessarily in this order.

  1. At Third Party Watch, Brian Grant is the only person thus far to make the obvious point. Weld means 50,000+ votes for the LP, thus ballot status (though it might mean a court fight, due to multiple ballot lines).

    In ’96, The LP of NY had Howard Stern at the first gubernatorial candidate. And with some “help” from other LPers around the country, plus Stern’s obliviousness to financial reporting requirements blew that chance to secure permanent status.

    As for Weld’s stance on the drug war, compare it with the no mention stance of Harry Browne in ’96, and it again is obvious that Weld at least is no worse than Browne was as a presidential nominee.

    It all comes down to what the NY LP wants.

  2. I hope they let him run. If he was the former governor of Massachusetts, he should have a fundraising machine already in place and he might be able to make a major dent. And since it’s New York, whatever happens there is watched by the rest of the country. If we become big in New York, we could be big everywhere else.

    Normally I’d have reservations, but he’s probably as libertarian as a realistic candidate can get in NY so I fully support this.

    Go for it, Bill Weld!

  3. To me Bill Weld can be summed up (in a simplified version of George Phillies’ statement) “Bill Weld is not a libertarian”. Most of the presented reasons given by other parties boil down to the idea of voting for the lesser of evils. I have been tempted by this in the past but no longer. Margaret Mead had it right when she stated “”>It may be necessary temporarily to accept a lesser evil, but one must never label a necessary evil as good.. Labelling Bill Weld as a Libertarian doesn’t make him one. Choosing to misuse the term Libertarian makes it harder for the Average Joe to conclude that there is any distiction between Republicans and Libertarians.

  4. Is Weld running for the NY Conservative Party nomination?

    If he wins that and the LP Nomination but loses the Republican primary and chooses to continue his campaign he will run as the Conservative candidate and the NYLP will just be the caboose on the campaign train.

  5. The advantage of Weld,as a chance to get on the national radar, is obvious. Ballot status makes a huge difference. We could not contine to exist as a functioning party in Indiana without it. It has allowed us to elect council members and a judge in partisan races.

    If the New York Libertarian Party considers him “pure enough” that they give him the nomination, I’m not about to second guess them.

  6. There’s a debate about the Weld issue amongst the NYLP on Gary Popkin’s program. My town neighbor, John Faso, will get my former party’s nomination (the Conservatives). A lot of the old guard isn’t happy about the Weld idea, and Don Silberger (former Senate candidate and Mathematics professor) might very well step up and challenge at the convention. If Weld wins the nomination it might make the petition process a little easier if he foots the bill. Will Weld support other LP candidates ? There are only 798 enrolled LP in NY. They would be subject to take over at that point. Our campaign is scrambling to setup county organizations over the summer so this won’t happen. While the ‘purity’ issue has some dimension, there is still a question whether Weld can garner the 50K on the LP line.

    btw . . The Capitol LP chapter endorsed me tonight as the 20th Congressional candidate. If I can get 3500 hundred signatures I might be the only LP candidate for Congress in NY.

  7. Two questions:

    1) Will he make a campaign promise to work for smaller government at every step of the way if elected?

    If yes, then there’s no reason he isn’t “libertarian enough.”

    2) Does the NYLP have any (other) serious candidates going for the nomination for Governor?

  8. Trevor,

    1. Will he promise to stay on board till Nov. might be a better question. He loses nothing by simply walking away. That might happen if he dosn’t get the Repub nod. That guvna vote of 50K is critical at this point.

    2. Donald Silberger is always serious and is often cited as the fire of the NYLP. If Don jumps in, I’ll be an even busier man this year.

  9. Getting people who are clearly NOT Libertarian elected could cause serious problems for the party in the long run in exchange for a cheap short term win. Ann Coulter went for the nomination for god’s sake. Selfish people are perfectly happy to use the LP for their own gain at the LPs expense. This is getting stupid. Zeese was highly dubious at the very best, and now this? If the guy isn’t a Libertarian, then he should NOT get the nomination. What is the point of an LP if it doesn’t even support Libertarian candidates??? What is the point of winning for winning sake?

  10. The most votes the NY LP ever generated for governor was about 20k. Don Silberger while a capable Libertarian is a long shot for getting 50k votes.

    It is an open seat and will be a very contested seat between the two old parties, which means that many libertarians will pull the R/D line. Silberger will receive less votes than the last NY LP candidate for governor.

    Putting Weld on the LP line means libertarians and many of the disgruntled Republicans can cast a protest vote against the Republicans while at the same time voting for Weld. Without Weld stumping for the LP, it will come up in during the campaign which will generate recognition for the LP.

    There are other benefits to the NY LP giving Weld the nomination that aren’t obvious. The is huge rift forming within the GOP. Fiscal conservative/socially liberal candidates are distancing themselves from Bush. Weld can be the first of many libertarian leaning candidates to jump from the sinking GOP ship. Don’t let them drown.

  11. The NY LP should definitely endorse Weld. Imagine having an (L) next to someone with that much media attention. Even better, imagine if Weld somehow ends up winning the election in New York by a thin margin. The LP endorsement will have made the difference. Suddenly the LP would be a force to be reckoned with. Maybe next election the Democrats would try to court some libertarians, or at least moderate their tone to become more libertarianish.

    There are very few downsides to this move. If Weld wins, the LP gets attention like never before and becomes a political force. If he loses, nobody cares, and libertarians resume our now-worn seat on the political bench.

  12. There are conservative Democrats and liberal Republicans, the LP should learn to accept a wider variety of Libertarian candidate. It’s a political party not a religion.

    Weld is not a “REAL” LIBERTARIAN type of Libertarian, but he does seem to hold the view that less government is better… and that should be good enough for the party’s backing in this situation. Particularly the NYLP, which has been an ineffective mess for so long. This could be a major shot in the arm for them.

    Hell, maybe this should be the policy in New York for all future unwinnable races… endorse whichever major party candidate is more Libertarian friendly. If they screw up in office, when re-election time comes, run a candidate against them to bleed off some votes and target them for defeat. If you can’t beat them (yet), at least annoy them enough to force the R or D to incorporate a few of your ideas into their campaign in exchange for your support.

  13. I fail to see how getting a bunch of pissed of Republicans coming over and running on the Libertarian ticket is so great. They are conservatives. Not libertarians. Turning the party into a defacto conservative party would be ruin. Everyone seems so anxious to try and win for the sake of winning, which is not a constructive goal at all. Libertarians need to chill out and understand that they aren’t going to be elected any time soon. There is no immediate and visible reason for people to embrace limited government and sound finance. People do not want these things, but a great upheaval is ahead where they will have little choice! THEN libertarians will win. But this will not happen if they sell out and ruin their reputation just for the sake of having some silly partisan “L” next to some statist loser’s name. Besides, Weld would be referred most often as “Independent” in the media. Beleive that. I cannot see how he could positively represent the libertarian view but I see many negatives.

  14. I looked at his issues page and nothing jumps out at me that he is really unlibertarian, though under the environmental area he seems a little wishy-washy about smaller gov’t. He seems to want smaller gov’t not only in the financial arena, but possibly in personal areas as well, evidenced by his statement of wanting the gov’t out of the bedroom. He must have some stands on other issues or does something different than what his website says that are upsetting people. The big thing for me is will he move us forward towards more liberty and less gov’t. Without knowing much about him other than his website it seems like he would take us in the right direction. I had some big problems with Zeese getting the libertarian nomination because it was apparent to me that he was for larger gov’t, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Weld. I may be wrong as I don’t have much information, but that is for the Libertarian voters of New York to decide.

  15. I think nominating Weld would be a bad idea. If he had even a few libertarian qualities it would make some sense, but looking at the issues page of his campaign site I can’t find a single libertarian viewpoint. Weld is a career politician and seems nothing better than a moderate Republican.

    It seems pretty clear at this point that Elliot Spitzer is going to be the next governor of New York. I doubt that nominating Weld would bring the needed 50,000 votes to the LP line if he gets the Republican nomination. Plus there’s the Conservative and Independence lines that he could pick up.

    There are however conditions in which nominating him would be worth it:

    1) If he adopts at least some LP issues into his campaign.
    2) If he actively promotes his LP endorsement, along with other LP candidates.

    If he can’t or won’t do those things I don’t see how just having him on the LP line will help the party at all.

  16. DD,

    This isn’t about Weld, but LP politics in general. You said “Libertarians need to chill out and understand that they aren’t going to be elected any time soon.” If this is the case, why have a Libertarian Party? Do you think we should pack up the party and work with educational organizations?

    Not picking on you, but actually trying to answer this question for myself.

  17. Do you think we should pack up the party and work with educational organizations?

    I actually think this is one area where the LP misses the boat… big time. If you don’t think people are brainwashable you are mistaken, and if you don’t think the megaparty doesn’t spend incredible amounts of resources “educating” the public you are also mistaken. If you repeat the message often enough, people will get it. When is the last time the LP has done ANYTHING to get ANY message out to the general public other than a blog post on their very unprofessional site or an email to the choir?

  18. Fair enough question, Stephen Gordon. You are not so high and mighty that I fear being picked on or anything like that. The answer is that sometimes LPers DO win. And second it would be irresponsible not to do something. What is the quote? “The greatest triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

    Political action is an important slice of “the pie”. Allowing yourself to be used for someone’s nefarious purposes at your own expense is foolish and stupid.

    Realistically, any candidate who promises less government in one or two areas and more in another is unacceptable. Obviously, we will then see their favored area of government grow and that’s it. We will not then see a notable shrinkage in the areas they promised. They will sacrifice that in exchange for their positive growth where they want it. Simple practical logic and observation should tell us that to be the case.

  19. Why don’t we come up with some minimum guidelines for a candidate? Like a candidate pledge.

    The obvious ones would be not increasing government in ANY area. *Actively* decreasing in at least SOME areas. Others could be balanced budgets, etc. Keep it simple to maybe ten. There’s three. Run.

  20. Thanks. That might be a good compromise between people who want a membership pledge and those who don’t. Make the candidates pledge. Maybe the pledge would be the current pledge and then some of the items I mentioned.

  21. Thinking about fusion and similar campaigns, as well as those with no LP candidate. Would the following be acceptable to LPers:

    If there is no LP challenger for a race, the appropriate LP affiliate might exchange support to the most libertarian of the other candidates in exchange for reasonable concessions from the candidate.

    In the Weld case, it might be that he pledge to support the Bill of Rights with respect to eminent domain — or that he pledge to stick in the race in order to ensure LP vote totals.

    With Zeese it could have included some sort of compromise on health care issues.

    With races where it is the most libertarian of the candidates, could a deal be cut like: “If you’ll pledge to vote against any tax increases, we’ll support your bid for election”

    In most cases, the LP would state that while the candidate isn’t Libertarian, he is the most libertarian of the two and we encourage your support of him.

    just an idle thought…

  22. In a word. No. But it does depend on what your definition of “support” is. You say that the LP would explicitly state that they aren’t Libertarian. You don’t say whether they appear on the ballot as such…

    I’d vote for Zeese. He just shouldn’t be a Libertarian ballot candidate. I don’t have a problem with his membership either. I don’t see why Libertarians don’t support non-LP candidates when that candidate is libertarian or libertarianesque. Libertarians don’t (and shouldn’t) have a problem supporting Ron Paul. It’s the philosophy that matters most, not the designation.

    Just to take a second to throw in some shameless conservative bashing… go on over to and take a look today. Top stories include an Israeli Matzo shortage (GASP!) and the shroud of Turin. LOL! Conservatives are CRAZY and not to be trusted with anything. It is imperative that the LP not become an adjunct for the GOP.

  23. See my comment #19 at the Third Party Watch post. I thought I’d copy part of it here since this blog probably gets higher readership and the issue I raise is internal to the LP:

    Setting aside the issues of whether Republican Bill Weld is “libertarian” enough for endorsement by the LP of NY and popular enough to gain ballot status for them, is the LP of NY even allowed to endorse him?

    LP Bylaws plainly state in Article 8: Affiliate Parties, 4. “No affiliate party shall endorse any candidate who is a member of another party for public office in any partisan election.” There doesn’t appear to be any exception for fusion voting systems.

  24. Quote:
    Why don’t we come up with some minimum guidelines for a candidate? Like a candidate pledge.

    The obvious ones would be not increasing government in ANY area. *Actively* decreasing in at least SOME areas. Others could be balanced budgets, etc. Keep it simple to maybe ten. There’s three. Run.

    Comment by Devious David — 2006-04-12 @ 1:52 pm

    Just a Basic pledge to UnDo some of the damage already done
    would be a good basis:
    I pledge to oppose increases in Governmental powers.
    I pledge to work to remove unnecessary Governmental powers.

    Or something like it.

    And, back =On Topic= :

    Most Libertarians disagree who is truly libertarian.
    By that criteria, Weld deserves admission.

    I rest my case.

  25. Daniel,

    You are correct on the bylaws. I was wondering when someone would catch that. MD and AL just told national where to stick it. I’d like to see them try to disaffiliate us.

  26. Sorry, it was comment #18, but the direct link from my name is correct.


    We had a debate over LP endorsement of non-Libertarian candidates on an LP Colorado chat list a couple of months ago. The “tribalists” (identifying strongly with the Libertarian Party) are very opposed to this idea. The “purists” are opposed because the non-Libertarian candidates endorsed as a result wouldn’t be “libertarian enough” and would probably advocate various positions rather opposed to libertarian principles.

    I’m now opposed because I see a conflict of interest for LP leadership in trying to fill ballot positions for the LP for available offices, and it’s probably against current LP Bylaws (which could be changed if enough members want to). Fusion voting is an interesting system.

    I would be open to it if there were some strong safeguards, more than my local affiliate has now.

  27. Oh, and I don’t have the reference at hand, but concessions for not running candidates are rather illegal in Colorado, according to some in the debate.

  28. An earlier comment indicated that the Republican Liberty Caucus had serious reservations about Bill Weld. The fact is
    that the RLC – “the libertarian Republicans” – have endorsed him, and will be working the precincts in support of his candidacy. Our LP friends will have to make their own decision – are they a political party or a very small debating society . Unfortunately, if history is a guide, we know the answer.

    Carl Svensson,
    RLCNY State Co-Coordinator

  29. The Libertarian Party needs “name candidates” if it ever hopes to become a viable force in this country. We need a Ross Perot type to gain prominence in the political landscape. Receiving a few hundred thousand votes every four years will never accomplish our goals of political change. A William Weld or Jessie Ventura campaign could launch the Libertarian Party to a true national stage, which may never happen even with all the Harry Browne’s and Michael Badnarik’s of the world. Not only would I welcome Weld to run with the LP, but I’d love to see the LP recruiting candidates with name recognition. As the other two parties do everything to make it more difficult for the LP to gain ballot access, we need to combat that by running experienced candidates who don’t fully fit within those two other parties to get enough votes to maintain ballot access. The question is who are other potential LP candidates we should be recruiting?

  30. In 1991, when California Governor Pete Wilson worked with the Democrats to raise taxes, libertarians & conservatives in California pointed to Governor Weld balancing the Massachusetts budget while cutting tax rates.

    Gov. Weld signed a medical marijuana bill in Massachusetts years before California passed Prop. 215. He has opposed gun control, spoken against eminent domain, and now calls for ending the state income tax for New Yorkers that make less than $75,000 a year.

    Nobody is perfect, but Bill Weld has a better public record on opposing big government than any governor outside New Mexico in recent years.

    Nominating Weld on the Libertarian line could get them 50,000 votes and ballot status. I have seen campaign literature in New York, and normally the candidate will list all the parties backing him, so that voters know how to vote for the candidate.

  31. Devious David, “Getting people who are clearly NOT Libertarian elected…”

    – Common wisdom is that Spitzer would win vs. Weld. The Conservative Party is quite likely to back Faso because Weld is too liberal for them.

    Len, “doubt that nominating Weld would bring the needed 50,000 votes to the LP line if he gets the Republican nomination.”

    – It’s the best shot we’ve got. Party status is a big deal, for ballot access and the free ad on all voter forms. (Then, a challenge to keep it a Lbt line.)

    Stephen Gordon: “In most cases, the LP would state that while the candidate isn’t Libertarian, he is the most libertarian of the two and…”

    – We could say he is the more libertarian of the two… ;->

    Carl Svensson, “LP Bylaws plainly state…”

    – Has this ever been enforced?

    Derrick Teal, “The question is who are other potential LP candidates we should be recruiting?”

    – Vermont just sent out a mailing to 1000 current selectboard members, w/a survey about their positions.

  32. Weld’s positions–pls correct if wrong:

    “Weld signed a medical marijuana bill in Massachusetts years before California passed Prop. 215.” –the only change he supports in the drug laws.

    “He has opposed gun control.” –NYSRPA (NRA’s affil in NY), doesn’t like Weld at all.

    “spoken against eminent domain,” –except in the case of an LPNY ‘signature issue,’ the Atlantic Yards project, Brooklyn. Weld’s fine with that.

    “calls for ending he state income tax for New Yorkers that make less than $75,000 a year.” Yes, excellent! He’s for TABOR and school choice, helped abolish rent control in MA. “I’m a wild fiscal conservative,” Weld said. “I think taxation is theft. Taxation is the enemy.”–Newsday, Oct 19 2005

    Same src, “‘You’ve got to have maybe not 62 economic development plans,” Weld said, referring to New York’s 62 counties, “but you’ve got to have a bunch. I think government needs to be more pro-active here. It can’t
    just be laissez faire.'”


  33. Info — While I’m sure it has been enforced at sometime, I know of many (including ongoing) cases where it isn’t.

  34. A bit after 3pm, the NY Libertarian Party endorsed William Weld for the Libertarian line for Governor. A committee was appointed to select the Lt. Governor candidate, which needs to be combined with Weld’s pick for Lt. Governor for the Libertarian votes to count for Weld.

    Other candidates endorsed today by the convention include John Cain for Comptroller, Chris Garvey for Attorney General, and Jeff Russell for U.S. Senate.

    For more candidate info as the candidates get endorsed, please see: