[Note: This is one in a series of articles about likely or prospective 2008 Libertarian Party (LP) presidential candidates]
I thought about waiting until November to weigh in on Michael Badnarik's prospects as a potential 2008 presidential nominee — but if I'm going to do a "first look" series, it seems like it would be cheating to stretch it out until after an event as significant as the 2006 congressional elections. I'm going to have to go out on the limb here, make some (at least tentative) predictions, and live with being right or wrong.
If Michael Badnarik is elected to the US House of Representatives from Texas' 10th district this November, his nomination as the LP's 2008 presidential candidate is virtually assured...if he decides to seek it. Whether he'd so decide is an open question. As the nation's first Libertarian congresscritter, he might choose to concentrate on retaining his seat.
Here's the risky prediction part: Badnarik won't win his congressional race.
With respect to most LP congressional candidates, that wouldn't be a risky prediction at all. The party's record is perfect in that respect: Libertarians are zero for X, where X is the number of campaigns for election to Congress on our ballot line over the last 35 years.
Michael Badnarik, however, is not most LP congressional candidates.
Most LP congressional candidates haven't raised $200,000 for their campaigns before Memorial Day. Most LP congressional candidates haven't raised more than one of their two "major party" opponents. As a matter of fact, most LP congressional candidates haven't raised one tenth as much as Badnarik will have by Election Day, have billboards in high-traffic areas, have offices and full-time staff, and most LP congressional candidates haven't gone to a national convention broke, in third place, with a campaign staff consisting of two volunteers, and walked out of that convention with a presidential nomination.
If any Libertarian can win election to the US House of Representatives this year, it's Michael Badnarik (so far, the word is that Wisconsin's Ed Thompson won't be running, or I'd add him to the list right above Badnarik). But, barring a Thompson run, I don't think that any Libertarian can win a congressional race this year. I'll be ecstatic if Badnarik proves me wrong — and if he does, it won't be the first time.
Based on my prediction, Badnarik would be seeking the LP's nomination on the basis of a losing, but probably very credible — in the 20%+ range — performance in the congressional race. That could play either way: his performance could push him up, or the amount of money Libertarians contributed for a win they expected — and didn't get — could push him down.