At least four possible contenders for the 2020 Libertarian Party nomination for President attended the California Libertarian Convention in Long Beach during the last weekend of April: Tom Campbell, Adam Kokesh, Larry Sharpe, and Bill Weld.
Tom Campbell has been a Republican congressman from Silicon Valley and a state senator, and is now a professor of law and of economics at Chapman University in Orange County. Campbell gave the keynote speech at the April 28 evening banquet. He spoke of the guiding principles he followed during his years in politics and asked the audience to determine whether they were libertarian.
Those principles included living within your means, never sacrificing liberty for security, abolishing the federal income tax, never going to war to make other countries better or without a vote of Congress, voting no on government proposals that can be performed in the private sector, and insisting on both a cost-benefit analysis and a sunset for any government proposal that passes. When in doubt while choosing between competing public policy proposals, ask which alternative enhances freedom most.
Longtime libertarian antiwar activist Adam Kokesh was the first person to declare his candidacy for the Libertarian Party’s 2020 presidential nomination, and he distributed his book Freedom to all convention delegates. Kokesh promises to, on his first day in office, sign an executive order dissolving the federal government and resign the presidency to become “Custodian of the Federal Government.”
New York Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe served as the master of ceremonies at the evening banquet on April 28. Sharpe received the second most votes for the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential nominee during the 2016 nation convention. Sharpe demonstrated his fundraising prowess by auctioning off libertarian-themed books autographed by Reason editor Matt Welch and others.
Sharpe’s campaign for governor focuses on bridging the gap between left and right by reforming education through free-market alternatives to government-managed educational institutions, reining in the runaway growth of New York state taxes, opposing eminent domain property seizures, slashing the heavy taxes on farmers, and fostering transparency and accountability in government in order to reduce waste and corruption.
Former Libertarian Party vice presidential candidate Gov. Bill Weld also gave remarks at the banquet and spoke with Reason’s Matt Welch breakfast meeting interview on April 29. Weld said that although he and his 2016 running mate Gov. Gary Johnson had polled at 13 percent before the presidential debates, the campaign began to decline when the Hillary Clinton campaign dumped millions of dollars of negative campaign ads on them and they did not have the financial resources to hit back.
Asked about his persona as a moderate, Weld said that he is a radical in substance on both economic and personal issues, cutting spending and minimizing the size of government and scaling back the intrusion of government into people’s personal lives. He also cited his early support of gay marriage, medical marijuana, and treating drug abuse as a medical issue rather than a crime.
“It’s heartening to see this early interest in the Libertarian presidential nomination,” said Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark, who gave the Sunday morning keynote speech at the California Libertarian Convention. “It’s another sign of the tremendous energy we’re seeing in this midterm election season. We’re aiming for more than 2,000 candidates for federal, state, and local office in 2018, and we’re making great progress toward that goal. We’re also crushing fundraising goals in the process.”