Badnarik has a background as a computer programmer and technical trainer. He's known among Libertarians as a constitutional scholar. He offers an 8 hour course on the constitution.
In my limited exposure, he comes off as a low-key but quietly intent rumpled college professor. I dig that feel a lot, at least in this guy. A related comparison: Michael Badnarik may be the party's closest approximation to Lieutenant Columbo.
Even within the party, Badnarik was the underdog. He was a distant third in expectations coming into the convention. We had Hollywood producer Aaron Russo and fairly well known radio talk show host Gary Nolan as frontrunners. Both had better nominal professional skills in public speaking, better name recognition and certainly more money. Badnarik did, however, have what was widely regarded as a good performance in the Saturday debates.
It took three ballots to clinch the nomination. This seems conveniently like just about right dramatically- enough to peak interest, then getting to the denouement fairly quickly before it got boring. Nolan bowed out after the second ballot, offering his support to Badnarik. 405 votes for a majority were required for nomination. Badnarik beat Russo decisively on the third ballot, 423 to 344.
It appears that basically Nolan and Russo significantly enough alienated one another's supporters as to knock them both out. Russo was graceless enough to say on stage (and on C-Span) that he was pleased to support Badnarik, and was just glad that it wasn't Nolan. Bad form, Aaron. Feel free to redeem yourself by raising a couple million dollars for Badnarik.
I don't know just how good Badnarik will do. We've never had much luck at this high level. For all his good efforts and professionalism and best intentions, Harry Browne didn't do much good- even with two bites at the apple. Badnarik probably couldn't do much worse, but he's not nearly the smooth politician that some of our candidates have been.
For example, I was in the room during this hospitality suite exchange between Mr. Badnarik and Mike Kole at our Indiana state convention last month. I concur with brother Kole that he was not particularly impressive there as a politician, specifically. [Little known bonus tidbit: Badnarik is clearly a genuine connoisseur of N/A beer.]
On the other hand, that might not work against him so much as a candidate trying to honestly earn votes. He's not at all any form of professional gladhander. Again, think Columbo stylistically.