Monday, August 04, 2008

About Kevin Craig


Well, it was going to happen sooner or later. And now that it has, I guess it's incumbent upon at least one Missouri Libertarian Party member / candidate / official / whatever to set the record straight:

The libertarian blogosphere has noticed Kevin Craig. Specifically, both CLS of Classically Liberal and Steve Newton of Delaware Libertarian have written posts on his candidacy and his ... unusual ... beliefs.

First, three disclaimers:

- Not only do I not share Kevin Craig's religious beliefs, I believe that his use of them in his campaigns for public office are both bad strategy per se and potentially damaging to the Libertarian Party.

- I do, however, like Kevin Craig. He's a reader, and occasional commenter, on this blog. He seems like a personable individual. He seems to be inclined to be helpful when possible (for example, correcting my directions to readers on the location of a great Greek restaurant, and offering to webcast a controversial MOLP executive committee conference call). Batshit insane as regards the gospel, IMO, but not a bad egg as a person.

- And finally, it is my belief that Kevin Craig is, indeed, a libertarian. Specifically, he's a Rothbardian "anarcho-capitalist" if I am not much mistaken. And among the opinions on religion as it applies to politics that you'll find on his campaign web site is this one: "True religion cannot be advanced through the use of government coercion, confiscation of property, or deprivation of life or liberty." Unlike Sonny Landham, whom both bloggers have compared him to, I have no reason to believe that Craig advocates the use of a tax-funded military to conduct a war of genocide so that we can steal other people's oil.

Now that those points have been covered, I'm just going to offer a few clarifications regarding the situation as it has been covered by those blogs I mention above.

First, according to CLS, "the Libertarian Party of Missouri is letting [Craig run a 'religious revival meeting' as opposed to a political campaign]." According to Newton, "several of the LP state parties [including, the context indicates, Missouri's] have gone so far afield to find candidates that they've recruited pure whackjobs ..."

Those statements reflect a hopefully correctable ignorance ("lack of knowledge").

The Missouri LP isn't "letting" Craig run for office. Under Missouri's election laws, any constitutionally qualified individual can pay a "filing fee" and run in any established party's primary. If that person wins the primary (and any voter can take any party's ballot in it), he or she becomes that party's candidate. The MOLP has no say in the matter (under the law, anyway -- more on that below).

Nor, to the best of my knowledge, did anyone in the Missouri LP "recruit" Kevin Craig to run for any office. He moved to Missouri from California, where he had previously been an LP candidate, and apparently decided on his own to continue said avocation.

Finally, to my certain knowledge, attempts were made by at least one Missouri Libertarian (me) to recruit a candidate other than Craig to run in the primary for Missouri's 7th District seat in the US House of Representatives this year. Those attempts were unsuccessful, but they were made -- I approached at least two LP activists, to my recollection, about running. They both declined.

Moving on ... the Missouri LP's executive committee is not empowered to make negative statements about Libertarian candidates. Such statements would constitute "censure" or "disavowal," and those kinds of actions require a super-majority vote of the party's state committee, which usually meets only once a year. The executive committee is only permitted, per its bylaws, to take actions which the state committee could take on a simple majority vote.

Now, there is a twist here. I'll try to make it as simple as possible to understand.

Back in 2006, Missouri's Secretary of State got it into her head somehow that she's permitted to re-write the state's election laws at will (apparently that's a common misconception -- a US District Court in Ohio recently had to disabuse another Secretary of State of the notion). Specifically, she decided that even though the law only requires that filing fees be "paid," she would personally require that they be "accepted" by the political parties to whom they were made out (yes, you read that right -- filing fees in Missouri are converted into contributions to the political parties on whose tickets the candidates are running).

The Secretary of State presumably reached this conclusion because it was convenient for her party (the Democratic Party), which wanted to reject the candidacy of a neo-Nazi in its own primary for, you guessed it, Missouri's 7th District US House seat. That neo-Nazi then attempted to file on the LP's ticket, and we (to my everlasting regret, I supported the action) took advantage of the Secretary of State's lawlessness to keep that neo-Nazi from running against ... wait for it ... Kevin Craig! ... in the primary.

The chicken of our connivance in crime with the Secretary of State has since come home to roost. This year, the MOLP's executive committee revolted against not only Missouri's election laws, and not only against its own party's bylaws, but against the explicit instructions of its superior body, the state committee, and "refused the filing fee" of the party's best-performing candidate in a three-way race in 2006 (Chief Wana Dubie, who ran for State Senate that year) when he tried to enter our party's gubernatorial primary. That abomination took place over my strenuous objection. I've learned my lesson, albeit obviously too late -- the genie is out of the botle and the MOLP exec comm appears to have re-envisioned itself as the Unquestionable All-Being Supreme Master of Time, Space and Dimension.

Frankly, I was surprised that Kevin Craig didn't get the same ax that Chief Wana Dubie did. Some members of the executive committee were visibly drooling over the possibility that they'd get to pull the same scam on a two-time prior LP gubernatorial nominee for the effrontery of having shown up at a 2004 candidate forum in a Hawaiian shirt ... but he foiled them by not filing this time. Damn the bad luck. And, for whatever reason, they ignored Craig.

So, as you can see, the situation is a bit more complex than either CLS or Steve Newton credited it with being. Kevin Craig was not recruited -- he recruited himself. His primary candidacy was not universally unopposed -- I tried to recruit a primary opponent. The MOLP did not "let" Craig have its ballot line -- legally, the MOLP has zero control over who gets its ballot line. And the MOLP executive committee's silence on the matter is a simple function of its bylaws, by which it occasionally (if seemingly randomly) deigns to abide.

Selah.

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