Stanley Supporter Seeks Presidential Nomination
by Ari Armstrong, April 3, 2003
Rick Stanley, the 2002 Libertarian candidate for Senate in Colorado, was so divisive that, in announcing a slate of candidates for the LPCO board of directors, Norm Olsen was prompted to write, "PS. The question always comes up, and the answer is unequivocal. Q: What is Rick Stanley's involvement in this effort? A: Absolutely none!!!" Even though Stanley resigned from the LP within a few days of the election, he continues to indirectly impact the party.
Michael Badnarik, a Libertarian from Texas who ran for state representative last year, is seeking the Libertarian nomination for President for 2004. Badnarik, who will address Colorado's LP convention with competitor Gary Nolan, is also a fan of Stanley.
In a recent release, Badnarik writes:
Soon Rob and I will be traveling to Colorado Springs to spend two full days at that state conference. I will have an entourage of several interns helping me there, so I am hoping to secure several delegates and a few hundred dollars to help support this political crusade. I am also VERY happy to report that Rick Stanley has been instrumental in getting a new law passed in that Rocky Mountain state. As I understand it, SB-25 was recently passed which declares Denver's "home rule" ordinance in violation of the Colorado Constitution. For those of you unfamiliar with the story, Rick Stanley put his "life, fortune, and sacred honor" on the line when he challenged the city of Denver by holstering a loaded pistol after a passionate speech on Bill of Rights Day, 2001. This new law would mean that Rick could now holster that same pistol, and his actions would now be considered lawful. Ironically, he is still facing possible imprisonment because he took his actions before the law was enacted. I will consider it an egregious travesty of justice if he is jailed because he was brave enough to reclaim our right to keep and bear arms for the rest of us. I look forward to visiting with Rick and Pam next week, and I promise to keep you posted on any future developments.
The suggestion that Stanley had anything to do with the passage of SB-25 has no basis in reality. In fact, I talked with supporters of the bill who feared Stanley would derail the effort.
Versions of SB-25 were offered at the state house long before Stanley even became active in politics. So why did it pass this year? Mostly it's because the Republicans now control the state house, the state senate, and the governor's office. In 2000, the Republicans lost the majority in the senate, but then gained it back in 2002. While Governor Bill Owens was first elected in 1998, the Republicans delayed all gun bills because of the murders at Columbine (even though liberalized self-defense laws would have helped prevent such violence).
The fact that SB-25 happened to pass after Stanley was arrested for carrying a gun openly on his hip in Denver is just coincidence. If anything, the law passed despite Stanley's action, not because of it.
Of course, that does not take anything away from Stanley's act of civil disobedience. I have written perhaps the most comprehensive account of Stanley's arrest available. See my articles about Stanley's trial, his sentencing hearing, and his arrest. (I also wrote several articles about SB-25, including these two.)
Stanley's act of civil disobedience had nothing to do with the passage of SB-25, and unsubstantiated claims to the contrary only feed Stanley's massive ego and self-generated mythology. (Stanley described himself in a recent letter to the IRS as a "Warrior for God and America." I have previously commented on the cultish tendencies of Stanley's causes, and I have compiled numerous articles about his campaign.)
I had forgotten it was Badnarik who invited Stanley to a rally in Texas last year and argued Stanley should not be removed as a candidate. A February 10, 2003 release from Stanley mentions Badnarik (and also badmouths one of Colorado's greatest libertarian champions, Paul Grant, who has spent roughly ten times as many years fighting for liberty as Stanley has).
In an e-mail dated August 21, 2002, Badnarik wrote:
This is a letter of support for Rick Stanley, Libertarian Candidate for US Senate in Colorado. This is also a letter questioning the ethics and motives of the Executive Board of the Libertarian Party of Colorado.
But Stanley's act of civil disobedience does not excuse his disgusting behavior after that. Badnarik ignores the actual criticisms of Stanley and attacks a straw-man. Badnarik's claim that Stanley's tactics might have won him the election does not speak well for Badnarik's grasp of politics. If he wishes to be taken seriously, he shouldn't associate so closely with crack-pots.
Still, while Badnarik strikes me as strident in his approach, I have seen nothing so far that would cause me to oppose his run for president. While his support of Stanley is a strike against him, perhaps he'll step up to the plate in Colorado Springs and hit one out of the park.
I don't know much about Nolan, other than that he's hired big-gun Steve Dasbach to run his campaign. Others who may consider a run on the LP ticket include L. Neil Smith, Carla Howell, and Ken Krawchuk. Also, Judge James Gray, author of Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It, recently joined the LP. He would bring a lot of credibility to the party if he could be convinced to run for president.
Of course, Libertarians can reasonably avoid presidential politics altogether on the grounds that their efforts are better spent on local races.