“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, … who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt
Some people just run their mouths. Al Barger does this with panache, but he also hits the pavement. This takes courage, and Al’s courage elevates him far above any would-be pundit you could place before me.
I have had an inside track on Al Barger’s US Senate campaign from the very beginning, as a Central Committee member of the Libertarian Party of Indiana (LPIN). Al has done us proud.
The issue of fielding a US Senate candidate to challenge revered Democratic incumbent Evan Bayh was a sticky one. Bayh has no weaknesses at home such that the GOP loathes to challenge him. In a cycle where there are Presidential and Gubernatorial candidates to vote for in Indiana, this race would be buried in the public’s consciousness, so it would be hard to make this a vehicle for party building.
Worse, the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) made it incredibly difficult for the LPIN to work in support of Federal campaigns. The law says that any entity giving financial support, or anything that could be construed as a campaign contribution to a Federal candidate would be subject to the rules of BCRA- a hideous tangle of paperwork that wouldn’t be worth the effort to a third-party candidate, or any other candidate with a small staff, but easily handled by incumbents with millions of dollars on hand.
Al had conversations with me about the process. I tried to impress upon him that the gravity of BCRA was such that we wouldn’t be helping him much, if at all. He would have to deal with all of this.
No problem. Al has taken on all of the advice that has been given to him, whether on policy issues to attack, events to attend, website photos, and even in selecting Bloomington libertarian Margaret Fette has apparell adviser. The results are plain.
Wherever Al has gone, he has done an admirable job of extolling libertarian virtues. I have had the pleasure of crossing paths with him in a variety of locations: at 4-H Fairs, at candidate events, and at private parties, and Al has never failed to charm. Whenever the press mentioned Barger at all, it mentioned him favorably.
So, I was extremely pleased with his showing overall. Then the Indianapolis Star issued its endorsement for US Senate. I was expecting that Al Barger, Libertarian candidate would be marginalized in the editorial, as so many of our good people are. But, no! The Star included Al in the report, and put him on the same footing as his fellow challenger, Marvin Scott:
Bayh’s opponents in the Nov. 2 election, Republican Marvin Scott and Libertarian Al Barger, while waging respectable campaigns, have not made the case for unseating him.
That might seem like damnation by faint praise, but you have to understand the treatment third-party candidates receive at the hand of the Star. Utter marginalization is the usual M.O.
Fact is, neither John Kerry nor George Bush could have made the case for unseating Bayh here in Indiana. The man is just that popular.
Al is in the home stretch of his race, which means that due to the higher profile of the other races, he probably won’t get much more ink here. He’ll probably take 3-4% on November 2, and will wrap up the campaign unceremoniously. Thus, I’m saying it now:
Good show, Al! The Libertarian Party of Indiana is proud of you and of your great work.