Friday, September 28, 2007

1983 - 1984 The Burns/Bergland/Ravenal Campaign

The Crane Machine leaves, the Berglandista fills the niche

At the beginning of 1983 all was quiet in Libertarian Land. A popular talk show host had declared to run for the Libertarian nomination and all sides expressed satisfaction with the candidacy of Gene Burns. It was the unexpected announcement by Gene Burns that he would not be seeking the presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in the summer of 1983 that eventually resulted in the exit of the Crane Machine from the battle for control of the LP. 

Burns, a popular radio personality who had come out publicly as a Libertarian, had been up for the idea if there was enough money to run a creditable campaign. Unlike Mac Bride, Hunscher, and Koch, he was not independently wealthy. Also, taking the nomination would have had an impact on his ability to work as a radio talk show host, something of which the station management made him very aware. 
Told over and over again by David Bergland that money would not be a problem, he discovered that this was not the case. The money was an issue because those who had persuaded him to seek the nomination were unable to raise any for him. Therefore just a scant month before the nominating convention he dropped out. This caused shock waves through the LP, naturally. The waves resulted in two candidacies, that of David Bergland from California and Earl Ravenal, a professor at Georgetown solicited to run by Edward H. Crane, III. 
The Bergland candidacy began the day the Burns announcement was made when a friend of Bergland's answered the phone with, “Bergland for President Headquarters.” 
At that time a group of individuals were meeting for leisure and dialog at the seashore home of Roger Mac Bride in Biddeford Poole, Maine. The vacation turned into a strategy meeting. Various members of the cadre associated with Crane met and discussed the nomination. 
To the surprise of many Mac Bride and Bill Hunscher supported Earl Ravenal while Ed Clark supported David Bergland. There had been a gentleman's agreement that no matter who won the sides would shake hands and work on the campaign. That ended the moment David Bergland achieved nomination. 
The Crane machine walked out, in mass, leaving only Howie Rich to report back on further developments. But was not to be the last word from Crane and Company. 
Bergland's vice presidential nominee was Jim Lewis, a tax protester who had spent time in prison in support of his beliefs. The campaign would be run by Williamson Evers, a long time Libertarian from California, his wife, Mary Gingell, a former Chairman of the California LP and Perry Willis. The campaign for the nomination had been run not out of enthusiasm for Bergland as a candidate; David was generally acknowledged to be a lackluster public speaker. It had been run because no one who had experienced the Clark - Crane Campaign could tolerate the idea of what was bound to be another Crane candidacy. 
Therefore from the beginning actually running a campaign was an after thought and the realities of raising money, planning a national strategy, and ballot access were slipshod. The Bergland/Lewis ticket were on the ballot in only 39 states. The Crane Machine had run the ballot drives previously; Howie Rich, acting as commissar. The expertise had not been shared.

The personnel had changed but the world view had remained the same. The next two decades would be controlled by the Berglanista as the past had been by the Crane Machine.
Dave Bergland's campaign was hampered by his insistence that fundraising be handled by someone flown in for each event. Since the designated pitch man, Dick Boddie, was teaching twice a week at a college in Southern California, this meant that the cost of airline tickets was increased dramatically with Dick flying to and fro and costing more in transportation than the candidate himself. Dick was an excellent pitchman. It was an unnecessary cost. Bergland's personality and eccentricities drove decisions that should have been made of a more professional basis. Campaign staff was drawn from a small circle of personal friends and competence was ignored. 
During the Clark campaign there had been a flawed campaign strategy. During the Bergland campaign there was no strategy. The campaign failed to take advantage of issues then receiving national prominence. The campaign book was not as good as either previous book and available only late in the campaign period. The campaign staff insisted on running the campaign from the top down. Little local grown was achieved. 
However, several libertarians who wanted very much to be employed as professional libertarians got the opportunity to hold jobs that provided national titles. As had been true with the Crane Machine credentials and previous experience were ignored; those hired were close friends of the candidate. 
Chief among these was Perry Willis, who would make the LP his career for the next decade.
Meanwhile, in Alaska, a state with a population of only one million and an unusual set of circumstances due to the Alaska Pipe Line things had been developing. They continued to develop, but in very different directions. Several people had been elected to the state legislature as Libertarians. No matter what the size of the legislative body this was a major accomplishment.

It began with a guy named Dick Randolph, who had served two terms as a Republican state legislator in 1974 and 1974. After that he dropped out and did some thinking. Then he ran again, but this time as a Libertarian, in 1980 and then in 1982. This caused an explosion of popularity for Libertarianism in the Far North. Dick was the kind of guy who was well liked and thought of in his community. Dick encouraged another Libertarian, Ken Fanning, to run in his district in 1982 and Fanning squeaked in, too. 

Then Randolph decided to run for governor as a Libertarian in 1984. He lost, naturally. But Alaskans were happy that Randolph had managed to rescind the state income tax. It looked like anything was possible. 
In the wake of the Alicia firing of O'Keefe, Eric O'Keefe and another youngish Libertarian, Duncan Scott, were dispatched to Alaska. Both worked on the gubernatorial campaign there and then Duncan Scott was hired as state Executive Director. Randolph managed the floor campaign for Earl Ravenal and, along with the rest of the Crane Machine, walked out of the LP. 

 Back in Alaska another Libertarian legislator had been elected to serve from 1985 – 1987. That was Andre Marrou, an MIT graduate who had spent several years living in the wilderness. Randolph had committed to another run for governor and then suddenly, in March of 1986, he changed his registration back to Republican and ran and lost in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Duncan Scott resigned as Executive Director and moved to New Mexico, changing his registration to Republican. He also became a Republican activist. 
At the same time a long time associate of Crane and company called and urged another long time activist in California to re-register Republican. The man had worked as Crane's political operative in California during the run up to the Clark campaign. His name was John Fund. While John Fund has been sold as a Libertarian he, in fact, was never registered Libertarian even when he was paid staff for California. 
The LP in Alaska sputtered and died. At the time no one considered the possibility that a campaign to move activists into the Republican camp had been going on. But this is the case. Crane was handling this for the Kochs, who wanted to clear the political field for their continued attempts to create a power tool for big oil in the political arena. See Koch Truths

Andre Marrou moved down to the lower '48. Although in most cases candidates needed to be coaxed in this case no encouragement was needed.

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