Thursday, March 26, 2020

2020 Libertarian National Convention in limbo

Libertarian Party's Presidential Nominating Convention in Coronavirus Limbo | Reason - Matt Welch:

March 25, 2020 - "On Tuesday, the city of Austin, Texas, issued a coronavirus-avoidance stay-at-home order that permits residents to leave their homes only for 'essential' work and activities, such as providing medical care or buying groceries. The order, which lasts preliminarily until April 13, could have at least an indirect impact on the 2020 presidential race....

"Austin is the site for what was scheduled to be the May 21-25 Libertarian National Convention, ... the sole venue and mechanism by which the party's presidential and vice presidential nominees are determined. Rather than arrive with delegate slates earned in binding state primaries and caucuses the months before, Libertarian candidates show up, vie for scarce space on the debate stage, then endure however many rounds of voting it takes (lowest candidate lopped off after each round) among the 1,000 or so delegates in attendance until someone wins 50.1 percent of the vote.

"'We are evaluating all of our contingency plans,' Libertarian National Chair Nicholas Sarwark told Reason Friday.... The Libertarian National Committee (LNC) is scheduled to discuss precisely that [at] a special meeting conducted via Zoom Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET. Sarwark reckons that some kind of remote meeting, or an Austin plus remote hybrid, might be set up with a pared-down agenda focusing mainly on candidate selections both for the presidential ticket and the LNC.

"The convention website on March 19 informed delegates, 'The Coronavirus crisis is of an incredibly fluid nature, and as of the writing of this 61 days before our event, it is still too early to make any "permanent" plans.... Expect more definitive guidance as to the plan for the event about one month before the delegates and attendees are scheduled to arrive for registration and credentialing. For now, we can expect release of more definitive guidance on 4/20.'

"Added Sarwark: 'Basically the convention oversight committee meets weekly with updates and is in constant contact with the venue, and then they give me updates at a slightly lower periodicity. We're looking at probably somewhere around 30 days out, maybe three weeks out, to make a final decision.'"

"There have been seven nonbinding Libertarian primaries and caucuses thus far.... In the overall popular vote thus far, according to this Wikipedia page, [Jacob] Hornberger leads [Vermin] Supreme 22 to 10 percent, with 1996 L.P. vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen just behind with 9 percent. The rolling shutdowns across the country — postponing primaries and most large gatherings — alter the basic calculus for winning delegate votes, which is usually: Show up to state conventions, glad-hand, and perform in debates....

"The L.P.'s presidential nominating process can be a lengthy event, filled with horse-trading and intrigue. Since the goal is to win a majority of delegates on-site, ... candidates have in prior cycles invested much energy into making sure friendly state delegates show up. Canceling or significantly physically altering the Austin gathering will certainly upend business as usual for America's third party."

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