by Eric Dondero
Mary Ruwart is a longtime Libertarian Party stalwart dating back to the late 1970s. She has impeccable LP credentials having served in numerous capacities within the Party's leadership. She's also a Ph.D. Scientist/Researcher, and a former public officeholder in the State of Michigan. She now makes her home near Austin, Texas.
Dr. Ruwart is set to announce for President on the Libertarian ticket later today, on Libertarian Gary Nolan's Missouri-based drive time radio talk show - The Eagle 93.9
But questions have been raised about her ability to run a top-notch, professional, big media campaign.
Did Ruwart back David Bergland for President in 1983?
In the last few days, evidence has emerged indicating that Ruwart was not only a top supporter of the David Bergland for President campaign in 1984, but may have in fact, largely orchestrated his win for the LP nomination in 1983.
Robert Carpozzi, Editor of The Free Liberal, and a delegate to the 1983 Libertarian National Convention in NYC, recounts the following at ThirdPartyWatch.com:
At the 1983 LP Prez nominating convention, she ran for president in a fairly crowded field, but it came down to Bergland, the (Murray) Rothbardian candidate; Earl Ravenal, the moderate candidate; and Ruwart. Ruwart threw her support to Bergland, killing any hope that the LP might build on its reasonably strong 1980 Ed Clark showing... I recall the moment quite distinctly, as it led to (Ed) Crane’s leaving the LP and put the Rothbardians in charge of the debating society/purity police force.
Thomas Knapp of "Knappster" Blog firmed up Carpozzi's account:
My recollection (from old newsletters, etc.) is that Ruwart was drafted from the floor to oppose Ravenal in 1983 after (Gene) Burns dropped out, that Bergland then arrived to oppose Ravenal as well, and that after extended balloting, Ruwart dropped out and her supporters went mostly to Bergland.
LewRockwell.com Web Designer Eric Garris, also a delegate to the 1983 Convention, chimed in:
My understanding is the Mary Ruwart talked to both Bergland and Ravenal about being their VP running mate. Ravenal said he would not support her for VP. Bergland said he would support her for VP. Ruwart then endorsed Bergland.
David Bergland: Worst Libertarian Presidential campaign ever
Many will say, "Why does this matter? This was 25 years ago."
It's important to have an understanding of Libertarian Party history to really understand where it might be heading. In 1980, the LP ran its strongest campaign ever. Ed Clark was on the ballot in 50 states, and received nearly 1 million votes, 1.1 nationwide. In that same year nearly 100 Libertarians were elected to public offices nationwide including two state legislators in Alaska.
In 1984, the LP dropped down to 228,000 votes with David Bergland's effort. They only made the ballot in 39 states. LP membership even dipped below 4,000 for a few months post-Bergland in early 1985, from a former high of 15,000 in the early 1980s. More importantly, half the Party walked out. And it was the half of the Party with all the resources, know-how and money. David and Charles Koch have been called the Nation's 5th wealthiest family. David Koch was Clark's VP candidate in 1980, and dumped in over $3 million of his own money into the effort. Similarly, Ed Crane, now President of the Cato Institute, was a top LP leader at the time. The Kochs, Crane, and numerous other Party stalwarts literally walked out of the LP after hardline Bergland won the nomination, never to return.
Root versus Ruwart; Ravenal v. Bergland redux
This year an eerilie similar battle is starting to emerge within LP ranks. Wayne Root, "Mr. Big Media" has appeared on Fox News, Fox Business, Glenn Beck, Mancow and Michael Medved's show within the last few weeks as the frontrunner for the Libertarian nomination. Root is clearly the more mainstream Ed Clark or Earl Ravenal style candidate. He himself is a multi-millionaire. But more importantly, he has the ability to reach out for millions more from the gaming industry and other big money tycoons.
Ruwart has little if any of this ability. While she's viewed as the LP's "Sweetheart" in many circles, she's demonstrated no ability in past races to put together the resources or funds to run a first class campaign. It appears she has even less ability to attract big media.
If the LP goes the Ruwart route, we're very likely to see Bergland type vote totals in the Two-hundred thousands. With Root, we're likely to see a first class run professional campaign with big media. The result: The LP could likely see 2 to 3 million votes and hundreds of LP members elected to local offices.
It's the purists versus the pragmatists; those who want to grow the Party, versus those who want to keep it a small little philosophical debating society. Deja vu all over again.
Mary Ruwart officially announced her intentions to seek the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination at 5:05 pm est. on Gary Nolan's radio show (link above). She then took calls for the entire hour on a variety of topics such as drug legalization, and how the Libertarians usually take votes away from Republicans.