snubbed Oregon delegates incite NOTA sweep
Las Vegas, Sunday May 6. After nominating two-term New Mexico governorfor President and Judge Jim Gray as his running mate on Saturday, delegates at the Libertarian Party's national convention ousted all of their national officers. A fervent "None Of The Above" campaign instigated by a rejected Oregon delegation caught fire and barred Chairman Mark Hinkle's reelection before the day's end.
On Sunday past Treasurer Geoff Neale defeated incumbent Vice Chair Mark Rutherford for the chairmanship for the next two years. Texan R., runner-up for the presidential nomination, was elected Vice Chair on the first ballot for that position. Incumbent Treasurer Aaron Starr and Secretary Alicia Mattson, both seeking reelection, were replaced by Nevada CPA Tim Hagan (seated with the Georgia delegation) and convention organizer Ruth Bennett.
The convention, attended by over 600 delegates from all over the USA, opened on Wednesday with a glorious acapella rendition of the national anthem. Controversy arose that morning over credentials denied without notice to one of two competing Oregon delegations after those delegates had arrived and tried to sign in. Credentials Committee members M Carling and Carla Peal, Oregon members from the Reeves faction, had refused to recuse themselves despite an apparent conflict of interest. Carling and Pealer are also plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Wagner faction, which is recognized by the national party's Judicial Committee and by Oregon's Elections Division.
"The Libertarian National Committee stacked the deck against us by putting them on the Credentials Committee," said snubbed Oregon Chairperson Wes Wagner. "Their votes made the difference, and Libertarians won't tolerate dirty dealing."
After losing a floor vote to substitute Wagner's delegation for the one already seated, most of the rejected Oregon delegates found seats with other delegations. "Thanks to Georgia's gracious hospitality," said Secretary Bruce A. Knight of the Wagner group, which has ballot status in Oregon, "three of us sat and voted with them. And others were members of both Oregon delegations, since our legitimate group just accepted the first fifteen members who applied for our fifteen seats."
Wagner too was invited to join the Georgia delegation, half of whose members had stayed home in protest of a $94 "floor fee" required before delegates could vote. Wagner declined, citing a conflict of interest. "In good conscience I cannot participate in a national body that is violating the rights of legitimate Oregon Libertarians."
Members of Wagner's group allied with other delegates unhappy with how the national party was run under Hinkle. On Saturday, placards saying "Re-elect no one to the LNC" appeared on the convention floor, courtesy of the numerous Texas delegation, and chants of "NOTA, NOTA" sometimes filled the Red Rock Resort conference hall.
After Sunday's elections swept the incumbents from office and replaced them with officials sympathetic to the legally recognized Oregon party, Wagner's Treasurer Mark Vetanen said, "We knew the odds were against us when we came, but we had nothing to lose.By taking our chances and playing the odds, we've proved that the house doesn't always win."
Added Knight, "We've nominated a great presidential ticket, and we've done some serious house cleaning. Now Libertarians can pull together, elect Gary Johnson President, and make this the best year ever for the party of freedom and responsibility."
Copyleft 2012 by Harry Heyoka. Feel free to reproduce or republish this article at no charge in any appropriate forum, in its entirety unchanged from the copy you obtained from allvoices.com.