This article written by me was published on IPR on September 23, 2013:
LP Illinois members chose our slate of 2014 state-wide candidates at the state convention’s annual business meeting yesterday. They are: Chad Grimm for Governor, Alex Cummings for Lt. Governor, Sharon Hansen for U.S. Senate, Chris Michaels for Secretary of State, Julie Fox for Comptroller, and Matt Skopek for Treasurer. We expect to have a candidate selected soon for the Attorney General position. Thanks to all our state-wide candidates for stepping up!
On Saturday, September 21st, 2013, I arrived at the Libertarian Party of Illinois annual state convention at the Holiday Inn in Bolingbrook, Illinois at 1:40 PM CST. Several Ron Paul 2012 and 2008 bumper stickers greeted me in the hotel’s parking lot, as well as an array of LP stickers. (The convention had begun at 9 AM, and three individuals: longtime LP activist Mary Ruwart (topic – “health care”), Reason magazine writer Radley Bradko (“Police -State America?”) and Libertarian National Committee (LNC) represenative Dianna Visek (“Dealing with Drones”) spoke beforehand.). The present speaker at that time was Dr. Robert Murphy, an Austrian School economist and self-proclaimed anarcho-capitalist who has challenged Paul Krugman to an economic debate that has collected over $100,000 in pledged donations to a charity organization. Krugman has refused to debate. Murphy hosted a a “Liberty Karaoke” with several “freedom songs” on Friday night.
At that time, the crowd estimate I gathered was about 58-60 people.
Afterwards, former LP presidential candidate Lee Wrights and his campaign manager for that run Thomas Hill screened a portion of their documentary on nullification that was produced in conjunction with the Tenth Amendment Center. The film featured many clips of Tom Woods speaking and received a warm reception from the convention audience.
Next up was a debate over foreign policy. Lee Wrights and LP Illinois vice-chair and 2013 convention chair Ken Prazak debated on the side of a non-interventionist foreign policy against lawyers Bruno Behrend and David Applegate. At the beginning, only two people were undecided as to a non-interventionist foreign policy in an informal raised hand poll. After the debate there were more undecideds but also several people switched from supporting only a non-interventionist foreign policy to a course of affairs that would include other options as well, including those that may be contrary to the classical libertarian position.
Around 8 PM, Tom Woods (historian and author of sucks books as The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and Meltdown) commenced his speech in the banquet hall. He drew an enthusiastic and very positive reaction from the audience. (His speech will be uploaded to YouTube very soon). Woods’s booming voice, gesticulation, audience participation encouragement and ripe sense of humor captivated the attendees, and reiterated the reasons why he was considered the highlight of the convention. After the raucous applause at the speech’s end, Woods took questions from the LP attendees. Hill incorporated a line about Woods running for president in 2016 that left the latter speechless and an ear-to-ear smile, as well as an extremely positive audience reaction. I saw that a few new people came just to hear Woods speak and the crowd size was at least 70 people.
I got to talk to Woods a while before his speech on a few topics. Woods stated that Calvin Coolidge wasn’t a great president due to his support of the Federal Reserve and also added that Robert Taft, a popular former senator figure among Ron Paul supporters, did not have a good voting record and was terrible on domestic and monetary issues. Woods added that JFK, per G. Edward Griffin’s book The Creature from Jekyll Island and several other sources paid lip service at best to any kind of meaningful action against the Fed and defended his staunch criticism of the 35th U.S. president. Woods also said that he wasn’t sold on a Rand Paul presidential campaign and did not commit to voting for him in 2016, saying that “Rand wants to be president more than anything else,” making a reference to long-standing questions about Paul’s commitment to libertarianism. Finally, Woods added that he did not know if pure libertarianism would be successful if implemented in its precise form.
On Sunday, I arrived at 10:28 AM for the tail end of the LP Illinois business meeting that began at 9 AM. Before I got to the meeting candidates for various statewide offices were formally nominated (see Facebook status at the top of the article). Around 40 people were in attendance at this point in the proceedings. Matt Erwin, the Illinois LP state chair and campaign manager for Lex Green’s 2010 run for governor, addressed the delegates and announced that he was stepping down from his role, saying that “I’m not the right person for the job to take it down to the next leg.” Per the party bylaws, vice-chair Ken Prazak would now become the chair but Prazak declined to serve. Therefore, the floor was open for nominations. Current LP Illinois treasurer Matt Skopek was the only candidate nominated and won with a 100% acclimation by voice vote. Now, since the treasurer spot had been vacated, Josh Hanson was nominated for state treasurer by Diana Visek. (Hanson had been the 2010 LP candidate for Secretary of State). Hanson was also elected unopposed. Also, Daniel Banna was nominated for the LP’s nomination in the 53rd state house of representative district (my home district -KL).
At 10:51 AM, Henryk A. Kowalczyk, a Polish immigrant to the United States, addressed the body about his “freedom immigration proposal” as well as his “life cycle health insurance plan.” These two proposals were ones that Kowalczyk is suggesting to be included in the next Libertarian Party platform (to be decided at the 2014 LP national convention in Columbus, Ohio).
Lastly, before final speaker of the convention took the microphone, ballot access was discussed. It was mentioned that 25, 000 signatures were needed for a full slate of statewide candidates to get on the ballot (this would mean that the number to shoot for would be 50,000 signatures). Monetarily speaking, Visek said that each signature would roughly cost $2.50, leading to a final pricetag that neither the LP Illinois or LP National could afford, so the signatures would have to be collected on a volunteer basis. Visek, a resident of Champaign County, pledged to collect at least 500 signatures herself, and her pledge was matched by at least three other people in the room. Visek also mentioned an ungoing court case by the LP Illinois that aimed to strike down Illinois’s full slate requirement.
The convention’s last highlight was Austrian economist Steve Horwitz, who addressed the crowd a little after 11 AM on a topic entitled “Engaging Proggressives with Libertarian Solutions.” Horwitz was very well received he also answered audience questions. After his final thoughts, Prazak, smilling widely, took to the floor to announce that all the business had concluded for the state convnetion, thanked all those who came out, and after applause the 2013 Libertarian Party of Illinois state convention was formally adjourned.