Mr. Smither Goes to Washington?

Will GOP Disarray Send the First Libertarian Party Candidate to Congress?

(Washington, DC) ““ Despite desperate attempts by Republican politicians, events unfolded last week in the hotly contested race for Texas’ 22nd Congressional district, confirming that Libertarian Bob Smither remains a formidable candidate that neither party can afford to ignore.

As both influential local newspapers ““ including The Houston Chronicle and The Austin American-Statesman ““ and national news outlets ““ including The New York Times and National Journal’s “House Race Hotline” ““ have taken note of Libertarian Bob Smither’s indisputable impact on this race, both his Democratic and Republican opponents have made abrupt shifts in campaign strategy as they attempt to stave off Smither’s momentum.

Bob Smither is well known in Texas 22 for his long history of community service as co-founder the Laura Recovery Center for missing children. Shortly after election officials confirmed that only Libertarian Smither’s name would face the Democratic former Congressman Nick Lampson on November’s ballot, Lampson went on the air with commercials that seek to associate his name with those very same issues.

At an informal gathering of precinct chairs Thursday night, Tom DeLay, the scandal-tarred former Majority Whip who resigned in disgrace from representing this district earlier this year, felt the need to address local Republicans to counter support voiced by some Republican leaders for Bob Smither. The online community newspaper “Fort Bend Now” reported that DeLay told precinct leaders that Libertarian Smither is “a Lampson plant,” insisting that Bob Smither’s campaign is a stalking horse for the Democrat Lampson.

In fact, despite Tom DeLay’s insinuation, Bob Smither and Nick Lampson have met only briefly in public when the two men were working as advocates for missing children. The fact that Libertarian Bob Smither has sought to coalesce support behind his candidacy for a head-to-head run against Lampson only further refutes DeLay’s scurrilous innuendo.

“Fort Bend Now” reports that Smither responded to DeLay’s accusation with “I am telling you that is a vicious lie,” a point which he confirmed to national Libertarian Party officials in a teleconference earlier today. Smither also expressed his appreciation for the “multiple precinct chairs that have contacted me indicating some support,” as well as thanking “those precinct chairs that chose to ignore Mr. DeLay’s lie.”

Republicans are trying to present a picture of unification following the “nomination” of Republican Shelley Sekula-Gibbs, however this hyperlinked Associated Press photograph belies their claim. With a minimum of two Republican write-in campaigns and some Republicans clearly supporting Smither, local GOP unity is far from certain. An additional factor to be considered is the potential negative impact of being associated with or implicitly endorsed by Tom DeLay, who only received 60% of the Republican primary vote before his forced resignation.

In addition to Sekula-Gibbs, Republican David Wallace has also been confirmed as a write-in candidate in the race. The Fort Bend Herald and Texas Coaster recently raised questions about Wallace’s investment practices. While correctly entering Wallace’s name on the eSlate electronic voting equipment will provide a minor challenge to elderly and handicapped voters, the task may prove close to impossible for Sekula-Gibbs’ supporters.

The DeLay factor combined with the complexities of multiple disorganized write-in campaigns isn’t likely to encourage much support from out-of-state fundraising sources or inspire voter turnout on Election Day. Despite his current financial advantage, Lampson will face a monumental battle in a district which election analyst Charlie Cook handicaps at R +15 (Republican base performance plus 15%).

Thanks to the uniquely favorable dynamics of this race, Bob Smither starts this campaign with a double-digit support base, an unusual position for a Libertarian candidate. Based on the analysis of political experts, the winner of this race may well win with only a plurality of the vote. This could add up to a virtual “perfect storm” which just might send Mr. Smither to Washington.

[NOTE: The preceding is a press release, reproduced in it’s entirety, from the Libertarian Party]

  1. I did a Google News search and Libertarian Bob Smithers has received some good coverage in newspapers and TV news. Good going LP!

  2. I have read various comments about Smithers on this site. The chief objection to his candidacy seems to be his advocacy of the Fair Tax.

    As I understand it, the Fair Tax is consumption based versus the Flat Tax which is income based. As a libertarian I oppose all taxes, but assuming that we must field electable candidates, why is the Fair Tax more objectionable than the Flat Tax ? After all, very few voters with give any credibility to a candidate who opposes all taxes.

    Why not view Smithers as a step in the right direction?

    And why all this conservative Rebuplican bashing? The Dems are no better, they gave us FDR, LBJ, the New Deal, and the Great Society. Neither party is without sins.

  3. “Why not view Smithers as a step in the right direction?”

    I certainly view Smither as a step in the right direction. But I do not believe the FairTax is a step in the right direction. At its best, it would merely be a side-step.

    I can’t back Smither on the FairTax, but he appears to be 95% with me on the rest of the issues I care most about. That’s far better than other candidates I have voted for (I voted for George Allen for god’s sake!)

    Smither has my support. (What little that matters)

  4. His position on the Fair Tax is irrelevant. Even if he AND Badnarik AND Rock Howard AND Dr. Paul all vote for it, it won’t pass.

    Don’t lose sight of reality. Just be happy and work like crazy to help him win.

  5. Unless he renounces the natioanl sales tax scheme, he must NOT be the first LP congressman! Shifting the tax burden to the poor would besmirch the good name of the LP (and take food off MY table).

    Here’s how that idiotic rebate would work:

    REAL alternative: Personal income tax violates our natural right to the fruits of our labor. Property tax violates our natural right to private property. Sales tax violates our natural right to the free exchange of goods and services.
    The corporate income tax violates NO natural rights since a corporation is not a natural person. Since the corporation is a creation of the state, let it bear the cost of the state. The machinery is already in place. Of course, the taxes are passed on to consumers as higher prices so this is no substitutue for reducing the scope and expense of government. But it could level the competitive playing field for mom-and-pop propritorships.

  6. Joseph — frankly; Smither is the best shot and the closest we can get right now to an electable candidate who is by-and-large far more libertarian than anything else out there.

    The FairTax is one issue. Suck it up and deal with it. Libertarianism is about VASTLY more than taxes.

    And at least he’s trying to DO something AND gain the position necessary to *attempt* it. I’ve put my money on him.

    Honestly; you should do the same.

  7. IanC, it’s only one issue, but it’s an important one and one that affects me personally. If he will renounce the tax-the-poor-more scheme, I’ll be his biggest cheerleader!

  8. Joseph — politely; please look at the flaw in your own logic regarding this subject. Being anti-taxation does not make one libertarian, nor does being pro-taxation make one unlibertarian… inherently. They contribute, certainly, but the two are not intrinsically directly linked. Work it this way:

    Nothing of taxation in the world of government will change without discourse. He wants discourse. Being against him is being against the possibility of the elimination of taxes.

  9. Joseph, you obviously were asleep in Economics 101 class. I teach econ at the college level, and can tell you that raising the corporate income tax will do nothing more than increase costs and prices to the consumer, drive more businesses abroad to tax havens, and put undo strain and burden on small business which comprises over 90% of all corps. Last year’s corporate income tax collection totaled over $278.2 billion.

    What we need is less government ownership, more privatization, less regulation, and an eventual shrinking of the government. This will result in fewer deficits, less federal debt, and ultimately lower taxes.

    I do not live in Smithers district, in fact I do not live in Texas, but I welcome his candidacy.

  10. All taxation is a punishment for production. We can play a shell game ad infinitum and achive little in the way of decreased government. If Smither wants to play the shell game, so be it. While the “Fair” tax is a foolish and irresponsible policy, I’d say that it won’t likely pass in the next 4 years anyway. Their are more pressing issues that are vital, and Smither is apparently on the right side of those issues. One of which, BTW is breaking the duopoly and getting Libertarians in the debate. The guy is obviously a Constitutionalist in the vein of Dr. Paul, not to mention an aggressive fiscal conservative.

  11. Joseph, I am still trying to figure out how you think the Fairtax is transferring the burden to the poor. Everyone gets a rebate up to the poverty level. That means everyone living at or below the poverty level would pay nothing. Maybe what you mean is all the extra goodies (ie welfare) we give to the poor and not so poor will be shrunk or eliminated in some cases. Exactly why is it that all the extra goodies to a select few people are so libertarian, but the FairTax is not? Why is it that the federal gov’t, rather than charities or a lower level gov’t shouldn’t be taking the lead in helping the poor? They would be far more efficient than the federal govt’s programs. At least with a flat consumers sales tax every time you purchase something you would know how much is going to the gov’t. Many taxes are hidden in our current system, especially the one you push (corporate income tax). I agree with David that this would do nothing but increase prices and drive away businesses.

  12. We aren’t going to see smaller deficits until we have a monetary crisis and move to a private sytem of sound, commodity based currency. The deficits are a necessity under the current state of our fiat currency. If those deficits went away, we would have a great deal of pain, which would be of shorter duration than the alternative. There is going to be plenty of pain no matter what. It’s just a matter of whether or not Americans decide to stop getting so fat, lazy and selfish and willing choose to go through the pain in an orderly, less acute manner, or go through the pain in a cataclysmic, unpredictable turn of events.

  13. I think the LP isn’t doing a bad job promoting Smithers’ candidacy, but the statement where Smithers pledges to support a GOP Speaker is evidence of a lack of confidence in the LP philosophy. Evidently, we still don’t believe we can win campaigning as Libertarians, and must thus wrap ourselves in “conservative” and “stop Pelosi” clothing.

    As for both parties being “sinful,” well, you’ll get no argument from me — but if that’s the case, would you see a similar rush from Libertarian supporters to boost a candidate with a chance at victory who pledged to support Nancy Pelosi as Speaker? I doubt it. And that bothers me.

    I accept that tactical brilliance contributes to successful strategy, but successful strategy also requires long-term thinking. Bouncing from “perfect storm” to “perfect storm” and eating the GOP’s crumbs on the national political scene isn’t a strategy for a healthy and growing LP. We should keep that in mind no matter what the outcome is in November.

  14. until the LP builds a precinct level support structure with enough people in it to fund it’s candidates, we’ll be eating crumbs from somebody. Just make sure they’re good crumbs, with milk. When you get to entire cookies, it’s payback time.

    It’s going to take a few years.

  15. Brian…you said that “the statement where Smithers pledges to support a GOP Speaker is evidence of a lack of confidence in the LP philosophy.”

    Bob’s statement has NOTHING to do whith your theory. This is a 60-65% conservative district. This is a FACT. I suppose you would simply tell the Republicans to go to hell and be happy with your 1.8%.

    Is Ron Paul too hard right for you?

    Tim….our goal is to have one half of the district organized at the precinct level within two years. Two of the counties, for all intents and purposes, were unorganized at the county level only a couple of years ago.

  16. Brian, I agree with your comments above. It’s important to have LP candidates who are clearly identified as Libertarians, and not just Republican/conservative. Why run a race advocating support of someone other than Democrat Pelosi as speaker of the House?

    As I’ve always told folks, politics is a team game. You can’t be a Redskins fan AND a Cowboys fan.

    Libertarians who run for office should be unashamed to be up front Libertarians, and advocate Libertarian solutions.

    Libertarians who run strong races with this attitude will persuade many to our way of thinking.

    Shrinking from Libertarian positions will only keep people away from our way of thinking.

  17. Marianne you cam be a cowboy fan and a Redskin fan.When the cowboys are playimg the Gaints and you need the Gaints to lose so you can get in the playoffs(GO Dallas)
    This get back to something I preach in Georgia.Decide WHY you are running for office.If you are running to educate it is not the same as if you are running for vote totals.
    Bob Smither is in a place very few of our candidates have ever been.His goal is to try to pull the repubilcan vote away from a write in.Also as posted earlier I believe for speaker he is talking about Ron Paul.

  18. The so called National Sales Tax – aka “The Fair Tax” – is a scam that is being promoted by PHONEY “libertarians” like Neal Boortz. I don’t have a problem with incremental steps just as long as they lead towards liberty, however, the fact of the matter is that the so called “Fair Tax” just shifts the tax burden around and does NOTHING to reduce the size of government. In fact, the “Fair Tax” could actually end up being worse than the income tax because it will be more difficult to avoid.

    The REAL solution is to abolish the income tax and replace it with nothing and to drastically cut government spending. In addition to this the Federal Reserve and their fiat currency needs to be abolished. Instead of wasting time with this “Fair Tax” nonsense why not work on educating the public about how the Federal Reserve and the IRS are a scam that rob them of their freedom?

  19. and “libertarian positions” is a canard anyways. We are not promoting the LP in front of or instead of the party’s own candidates. That’s the bad LP, the one I hope never returns.

    you dont elect a philosophy, you elect candidates that promote a philosophy by espousing policy changes they want to have happen…ones that you think as a candidate can be electable.

    both private nukes and removal of the No Child Left Behind Act are libertarian of a sort, but one wont get many people to vote for you.

  20. Andy,

    voters dont want to be ‘educated’. They want what they want, and they’ll reject anything else. They’re not voting for a teacher, and they are not students.

    They are voting for people to GOVERN their county, state, township, or whatever. They have every right to expect that who they vote for will do so.

  21. Why would anybody WANT a National Sales Tax? I don’t think that anybody who isn’t a tax parasite really wants a National Sales Tax. At best, some may be duped into believing that it is less bad than the Federal income tax (in reality it is probably worse if anything), but I don’t think that anybody really wants it.

    I first learned about the Libertarian Party when I saw Harry Browne giving a speech at the LP National Convention in ’96 and one of the things that made an impact on me was when Harry said that if the Federal government actually obeyed the Constitution there would be no need for an income tax.

    The REAL problems are out of control spending and fiat currency, NOT how taxes are collected. If we switch from the income tax to a National Sales Tax and nothing is done to cut spending and we keep using Federal Reserve “funny money” instead of gold & silver then we will be no better off than we are now, and we may be worse off since a sales tax is harder to avoid.

  22. FYI, I am receiiving THREATS from LP-TX Vice Chairman Kevin Tunstall. Here are two comments from recent e-mails:

    “Beware Mr. Knight….I take names and will remember yours.”

    “If you continue your attempts to disparage our candidate, you will regret your activities.”

    Well, Mr Tunstall, I frequently respond favorably to reason but NEVER to threats.

    As I have said, I oppose ANY kind of national sales tax scheme, it’s something that would affect me negatively and personally, and I WILL continue to oppose it, and ANY candidate who supports it, regardless of party.

  23. Joseph, you apparently are not the only one:

    I support Bob Smither, though I do NOT support the FairTax as I’ve pointed out above. But threatning (with what, I do not know) someone because they vehmenently disagree with one of Mr. Smither’s main campaign issues is appauling. Though I am sure that this is not sanctioned by the Bob Smither’s for Congress campaign, it does cast a very negative light on the Fort Bend, TX LP, as Mr. Tunstall is apparantly the vice-chair, and has signed his threats with his title.

  24. What was that quote: ‘Do not let the best become the enemy of the good.’

    Question: Are we as a nation headed in a libertarian direction or not?

    My answer is no.

    I would rather support someone who at least gets us headed in a direction a little bit closer to a libertarian direction through action, then let us as a nation KEEP GOING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION.

    –end of rant.

  25. The so called “Fair Tax” is like rat poison. You can coat it with sugar all you want but it’s still rat poison.

  26. I do not believe a national sales tax of any kind is a step in the right direction. It’s so visable that if enacted, with our name “branded” to it, millons of Americans will think “damn Libertarians” every time they buy something.

    And the rebates? There’s so many red flags by my name in govt computers that I’m convinced I’ld never see one. And what about the homeless who have no address to receive them and no bank account to cash them?

    Here’s a decent read:

    BTW, I don’t hold Smither accountable for KT’s threats, although one of KT’s e-mails was signed with “Smither Campaign” by his name. My bitch with Bob is philosophical, KT is just a hothead who makes him look bad.

  27. Doug,

    You write: “Bob Smither is in a place very few of our candidates have ever been.”

    What place would that be? The LP has had any number of candidates in two-way (or, if you count the write-in, three-way) races for various offices, including seats in the US House of Representatives.

    Don’t get me wrong — Smither might be able to accomplish a lot. I suppose it’s just barely possible that if there are several near-miracles during the race, he might even win. But it’s not likely.

    Furthermore, his apparent refusal to take a position on the top public policy issue of the election (the war) and his support for the “Fair” Tax aren’t just going to hurt him with Libertarians. Whatever a voter’s position on the war is, that voter is probably not going to support a candidate who tries to duck the issue; and I suspect that even most Americans who favor tax reform (rightly) regard the “Fair” Tax as a nutty distraction rather than as a serious policy proposal.

  28. October is time for campaign mode.

    SMITHER needs $$$$$$$$$$$$ and buzzzzzzzzz.

    Let’s give him both.

    SMITHER is unique because he is the ONLY conservative on the ballot in a very, very conservative district that voted 64% for Bush in ’04.

    Due to a weird break there is NO Republican on the ballot— the ONLY Congressional race in Ameica with NO Republican.


    Let’s send the first Libertarian EVER to Congress.