Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Krzysztof Lesiak: The Failure That Was The Presidential Campaign of Virgil Goode

Original to IPR, by Krzysztof Lesiak. This was published on Independent Political Report on January 5th, 2013 and offered my post-mortem of Virgil Goode's 2012 presidential campaign. Back then, I considered myself more or less to be a supporter of the Constitution Party. These days I think of myself as a  libertarian, while at the same time retaining one or two paleoconservative tendencies, such as the life issue. I nonetheless continue to have a lot of respect for the CP, however. 

On April 21, 2012, Virgil Goode, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1997-2009, was elected the presidential candidate of the Constitution Party at its national convention in Nashville, Tennessee. Goode won on the first ballot with 203 votes, or 50.37%, beating out former national vice-chairman and 2008 VP nominee Darrell Castle, former Savannah State University head football coach Robby Wells,  activist Susan Ducey, and radio-talk show host Laurie Roth. Goode was introduced by outgoing national chairman Jim Clymer, who mentioned that Gooded served in the Virgina State Senate for 24 years and with his 12 in U.S. Congress, had more federal experience that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama combined. Goode delivered his acceptance speech, which was televised by CSPAN. Goode thanked by name Don Grundmann, a candidate himself who ultimately decided to support Goode, throwing his three California votes behind him. Goode noted that if Grundmann hadn’t voted for him, a second ballot would have had to take place. In his speech, Goode outlined his platform positions, which included opposition to illegal immigration, a 100% pro-life stance, support for the Second Amendment, traditional marriage, opposition to the NDAA, and a balanced budget. He also admitted to making mistakes while in Congress, including voting for the Patriot Act, and said that his association with the Constiution Party helped him to see the light on several issues, including foreign policy. While in Congress, Goode had voted for both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Thus, Virgil Hamlin Goode, Jr., a Virginian with a notable, thick Old Dominion accent (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WY-taIurlOs - areally awesome accent), became the most well known nominee in the history of the Constitution Party, and the only one to have held elected office. Things looked bright for the CP.  Goode looked on track to set a record for the CP, a party that has never exceeded 200,000 votes in a presidential election.  No doubt, even though many CP members probably had their concerns with his past voting record, longtime CP’ers were surely happy to have such a prominent individual, a former U.S. Congressman, be their presidential nominee.

On November 6, 2012, the presidential election was held. Virgil Goode came in 5th place nationally, behind the duopoly candidates as well as Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Goode received 122,191 votes, or 0.09%. This was significantly less than Michael Peroutka’s 2004 showing (144,499 votes, or 0.12%) and Chuck Baldwin’s 2008 showing (199,880 votes, or 0.15%). In fact, Goode’s showing was the second lowest percentage of the national popular vote that a CP candidate has ever received, behind Howard Phillips’s 0.04% result in 1992, the same year the CP was founded.

How did this happen? Why did a former U.S. Congressman, and the most prominent individual ever to run as the CP presidential candidate, fare so poorly? There are several reasons.

1. Ballot Access.  This one is by far the most important factor that caused Goode to under perform by such a large margin. Goode was on the ballot in a mere 26 states, which is likely the lowest number a CP candidate has ever been on, besides 1992. He was on the ballot in states that had a total Electoral College vote of 257, short of the 270 needed to be elected president. Even though he was a certified write-in candidate in 14 other states, where the total EC vote was 204, this doesn’t amount to much, because very few people vote for write-ins and they typically get only 0.01 or 0.02% of the vote. The campaign missed many states that it should have got on, including Arkansas, Illinois, Vermont, Maine, Kansas, Oregon, and Montana, among others. Goode, despite being quite wealthy by one account, didn’t really spend a whole lot of his money on the most important thing that third party candidates need: ballot access. Goode’s very poor ballot access is likely the reason that Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson was surprisingly added to the Free and Equal debate in Chicago on October 23. Rocky was only on the ballot in 15 states, but had write-in status in 16 others, for a combined total of 379 accessible E.C. votes. Goode’s terrible ballot access put him in the same league as a former mayor and leader of a brand new party that had been created less than a year before.

2: Hijacking By The Neocons Of The AIP: The American Independent Party of California, with over 477,000 registered members as of October 2012, used to be the largest state affiliate in the Constitution Party. However, in 2008, it was hijacked by Alan Keyes supporters who placed Keyes on the ballot instead of Chuck Baldwin and affiliated the AIP with Keyes’s new America’s Independent Party (now called America’s Party). In 2012, however, many CP’ers had hoped to take back the AIP and place Virgil Goode on the ballot. However, at a smoke filled back room convention in August attended by 7 AIP members who were part of the Keyes faction, America’s Party nominee Tom Hoefling won the nomination unanimously.  Hoefling went on to receive 38,372 votes in California, 95% of his national total. Had Goode been on the California ballot, he would have likely received between 30,000-50,000 votes, significantly helping his total.

3. A Weak General Campaign. Goode didn’t run a very active campaign, even if you, like me, followed his website’s news section regularly as well as his campaign Facebook account. Sure, he did some travelling, but he mostly confined his efforts to Franklin County, Virginia, where he lives. I guess it sort of worked, because Franklin County was his best county in the nation, giving him 2.58% of the vote. However, he was virtually nonexistent on the national scene, and besides the Free and Equal Debate in Chicago. Goode didn’t even have a campaign manager, according to Wikipedia. He drove himself everywhere. Also, by limiting himself to only donations of $200 or less, Goode only hurt himself. Also, he raised only $202,558, much of that coming from his personal fortune. By comparison, Chuck Baldwin raised $262,010, and Baldwin  was not close to having the monetary wealth that Goode possesses.  Goode didn’t hold any major rallies, and to my knowledge, was not interviewed by any major news network, except for CSPAN, which is usually pretty fair to third party candidates.

4. A Terrible Campaign Website. This is another big one. In today’s digital media age, there is no excuse for not having a good website, especially if you are seeking the highest office in the land. Goode’s campaign site might have passed muster were he running for Congress, but he wasn’t. When it was first released, I thought it was only a draft, and would drastically be improved in the future. To my dismay, it was not. In contrast, Baldwin’s 2008 site, which can still be viewed using WebArchives, was much more aesthetically pleasing and informative. Here are some specific critiques of Goode’s site:

a. First of all, the biography page sucked. Goode’s section only listed his birth date, education, military service, and political experience, having only a couple words for each. When you scrolled down to VP candidate Clymer’s section, you’ll see it’s more than three times the size of Virgil’s! But again, no complete sentences, just a list of important information about Clymer. Any serious campaign would have put out a MUCH longer actual biography, filled with anecdotes and the such.

b. The issues page was nothing to rave about, either. Good listed his issues as bullet points, which is a very amateurish way of organizing the issues page for a political campaign. Most campaigns would have a page listing all the issues, with picture for each one, and a “read more” button that takes you to a more detailed summary of the candidate’s position on that specific issue. Some of Virgil’s positions were one liners (!),  including his position on health care, which simply stated “I support ending Obamacare.” Virgil, let me remind you, you’re running for the most powerful office on the planet, not state representative!

c. The media page was also “weak sauce”. The videos section just had a bunch of YouTube videos lumped together on one page, while the photos page wasn’t even organized as a gallery  just had all the pictures on one page with captions underneath. It was slightly better than the video page, but still not nearly good enough for the presidential nominee of America’s 3rd largest political party (according to voter registration, December 2010).

d. Lastly, the “campaign news” page was atrocious. It had some links to articles and media coverage of Goode’s campaign, but it wasn’t even updated regularly. In fact, from September 15th, to October 13th, almost an entire month, there was not a single news item posted!! Before that, not a single news item was posted between July 13th and August 1st. C’mon Virgil, how many times do I have to remind you that running for POTUS is a serious matter?

These are the four major reasons why Goode’s campaign was such a major failure. Let’s compare again more closely Baldwin’s results from 2008 with Goode’s showing in November:

In 2008, Baldwin’s best state was Utah, where he earned 1.25% of the vote. His best county was Millard County in Utah, where he got 5.57%. By contrast, Goode’s best state was South Dakota, where he got 0.65%, and his best county was the one in which he lived, Franklin County, Virginia, where he got 2.58%.

Baldwin was on the ballot in 37 states, Goode in only 26.

Baldwin out polled Libertarian nominee Bob Barr in 10 states. In 2012, Goode  out polled Libertarian Gary Johnson only in Michigan (and that’s only because Johnson wasn’t on the ballot).

Baldwin had some prominent endorsements to boast of. Baldwin was endorsed by such prominent figures as Congressman Ron Paul, radio host and filmmaker Alex Jones,  Jerome Corsi, author of The Obama Nation andUnfit for CommandMark Dice, a famous 9/11 truther and YouTube “vlogger”,  John Hosteler  a former U.S. Congressman from Indiana, Joel Skousen, a well known author, Joseph Sobran, famed columnist and CP’s original VP candidate in 2000 before dropping out, and Thomas E. Woods, Jr., a “politically incorrect” historian and the author such bestsellers as The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History (one of my personal favorites – KL) and Meltdown. Some pretty impressive names, wouldn’t you say? Now let’s look at Goode’s endorsers. Jay Anderson, a former mayor of Columbia, Virginia, Stephen Andrew, President of USA Christian Ministries, and Daniel Cassidy, a conservative activist and former GOP staffer. Have you heard of any of those people?? I sure as heck haven’t. None of them even have Wikipedia entries.

To summarize, Goode’s 2012 showing surely disappointed many. I sure as heck was disappointed by it. To avoid the mistakes Goode made, CP leadership (and regular members as well) need to read this article to make sure they do not make the same mistakes again.

And what of Goode’s political future? Should he run for president again in 2016? No way Jose.  However, he should definitively run for U.S. Congress in his old district, Virginia’s 5th, in 2014 as the CP candidate. Goode is still well known and liked by his former constituents, and in a 3 way race with duopoly candidates, would only need 34% to win. The CP would gain a MAJOR boost by electing their first member to Congress. I’m not the only person hoping Goode will run in 2014. A Facebook draft page has even been created, and has already garnered 33 likes. (Here’s the link, and I hope everyone reading this will like it and share it: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Draft-Virgil-Goode-for-US-Congress-2014/538892456123872?notif_t=page_new_likes)

This draft effort has been endorsed by 2012 VP nominee and former national chairman Jim Clymer. He said:
I think it’s a great idea.

Also, I think that in order to maximize success in the future, the CP should run Chuck Baldwin for U.S. Senate in Montana in 2014. Last year, Dan Cox, got an impressive 6.56% of the vote, and due to Montana’s high concentration of Ron Paul supporters and freedom-loving people, Chuck would surely set records for the CP for a U.S. Senate race. Another endorsement from Dr. Ron Paul could put him over the top. Scott Bradley, to the best of my knowledge,  currently holds the record for a CP candidate running for U.S. Senate. Bradley got 5.67% in Utah in 2010. Chuck would surely beat that. A Facebook draft page has been started for him as well. (Here’s the link, and please like and share too: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Draft-Chuck-Baldwin-for-US-Senate-2014/152426481568819?fref=pb).

Finally I believe the CP’s best presidential ticket for 2016 would consist of Darrell Castle for president and former Missouri state representative Cynthia L.  Davis for vice-president.  Castle is an attorney,  longtime party activist, and he knows his issues well, and would make and excellent standard bearer. He was the VP nominee in 2008 and former Vice-Chairman. He has also recorded over 100 phenomenal podcasts concerning the news and issues of the day. Cynthia is new  to the CP but she has already proven herself to be a loyal CP’er and has run for lieutenant governor as the CP candidate. Her 8 years of legislative experience would add a lot to the ticket. She could be like the Sarah Palin of the CP, except that she, of course, unlike Palin, is actually a true constitutional conservative. Darrell should announce his candidacy as soon as possible so that that he can (1 build name recognition (2begin raising funds (3 unite the entire CP behind his candidacy. A draft page has been created for Darrell. (Here’s the link, be sure to like and… you know the drill:) - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Draft-Darrell-Castle-for-President-2016/422235741179452?fref=ts ).

Ok, now let’s summarize  this article’s key thesis. Goode’s extremely poor showing has proven one thing for third parties:  that nominating a former U.S. congressman who has little name recognition on the national stage does not translate into more votes. We saw this with Bob Barr’s epic under performance of only 523,o00 votes in 2008, as well as Cynthia McKinney’s low total of 161,000 votes. Third parties should be mindful of this and choose presidential candidates who are loyal party members and who articulate the party’s platform well, not newcomers who held elected office before but aren’t ideologically pure.

I’m Krzysztof Lesiak, a high school student and brand new IPR contributor, and I’d like to personally congratulate you for getting through this mammoth (whew!). Since I’m new here, feel free to add me on Facebook. Also, I have a YouTube channel, which has a ton of Constitution Party videos you won’t find anywhere else. I hope you subscribe to it.



Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year everyone!

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