There are 16 candidates for president on the 2008 Colorado ballot, but, according to the polls, only 3 percent of voters are expected to read past the first two. Despite the fact that he was shut out of the debates and has been working with a relatively stingy budget, Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr hopes they will.
Barr, an attorney from Georgia and former Republican congressman for the state’s7th District, leapt onto the national stage as the first lawmaker to call for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
He lost his congressional seat in 2002 and switched his affiliation to Libertarian in 2006.
While Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain spend millions on commercials to attack each other’s ideologies, Barr claims they’re both essentially the same. His latest video asserts there isn’t a dimes worth of difference between the two, asserting that they both want more government, more bailouts and more intervention to buy up bad loans.
It’s a message that may be resonating with more and more Colorado voters. Not only did Denver host this year’s Libertarian National Convention, it was also the third most generous metro area for Barr, contributing $19,590 to his campaign coffers.
Travis Nicks, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, believes he knows why.
“Colorado is a Libertarian minded state,” he said. “Our Republicans and Democrats both have a Libertarian streak.”
He also claims that the top two parties are ignoring their constituents.
“The major politicians aren’t listening,” he said. “People see the Libertarian Party as a viable, valid third choice.”
Based on comments to Barr’s latest posting on Townhall.com, it seems many people see him as posing a threat, but not to win the election. They believe that, similar to Ross Perot in 1992, Barr could take enough conservative votes away from McCain to give Colorado to Obama. One commenter went so far as to say, “If you throw even a single state to Obama we will hunt you down with dogs.”
In response to this possibility, Nicks is dismissive.
“Barr can’t steal votes from McCain,” he said. “every vote is earned. If McCain can’t earn people’s votes, that reflects on McCain, not Bob Barr.”
Colorado College political science professor Bob Loevy agrees. “In a really close election a third party might appear to swing the vote, but there is really no way to know where those votes would have gone,” he said.
He also sees no indication that Barr could make much of a difference based on the polling numbers in Colorado.
“In order to be a successful third-party candidate, you need money, a well-known public personaand a major issue to mobilize the vote,” said Loevy, “and I don’t think Barr has that.”
And as for those who might try to hunt him down with dogs, be forewarned. Barr is a former board member of the National Rifle Association, and the 12-gauge Mossberg Model 590A that was up for grabs on his Web site Wednesday has mysteriously disappeared.