DENVER -- Rep. Bob Barr has won the Libertarian Party's nomination on the sixth ballot at the LP convention, with 324 votes to 276 for Mary Ruwart.
The ex-Republican from Georgia won the nomination after a tough battle that one of his supporters called a "dog fight." Ruwart, a longtime LP activist, was the favorite of the party's more radical or "purist" faction. In early balloting, Barr and Vegas oddsmaker Wayne Allyn Root split the "pragmatic" vote in the early rounds of voting, but when Root was eliminated on the fifth ballot, he endorsed Barr and declared his desire to be the party's vice-presidential candidate.
In a subsequent vote for the running-mate spot, Root narrowly edged Steve Kubby, a California activist best known for successfully promoting a ballot initiative that legalized medical marijuana in that state.
Awaiting the sixth ballot totals, but the suspense is over and everyone knows the result: Barr will be the Libertarian presidential candidate for 2008, likely with Root as his running mate. I asked Barr if he could get the high-energy Root to switch to decaf for the general-election campaign. "I wouldn't even want to try," Barr answered, smiling.
Barr's assistant, Jennifer Chambrin, was skipping along the sidewalk of 16th Street outside the Sheraton: "We won! We won! We won!" Inside the convention hall, she hugged Barr publicist Audrey Mullen, who then said, "Oh my God, we've got so much work to do now."
FIFTH BALLOT: Ruwart 229, Barr 223, Root 165, None of the above 6.
So Ruwart's not maxed-out, now with 37% of the vote. Root is eliminated, and now addresses the convention: "I would like to be part of a Barr-Root ticket in 2008."
223+165 = 388 = Victory on the 6th ballot?
FOURTH BALLOT: Barr 202, Ruwart 202, Root 149, Gravel 76.
A dead heat, and Gravel will be eliminated on the fifth ballot. Seems that Barr got a surprisingly large share of Phillies' vote. The remaining vote can be seen several ways. The ex-Republican candidates, Barr and Root, have 351 votes between them. The two former office-holders, Barr and Gravel, have 279 between them. With all the other radical candidates eliminated, Ruwart's 32% represents the maxed-out power of the Radical Caucus. It's hard to see how she could win at this point.
Awaiting results of the fourth ballot, Barr operative Stephen Gordon says, "It's a game of chicken" between Barr and Root. Combined, they have 332 votes -- a clear majority against the Ruwart-led radical faction. A Ruwart delegate suggests that Barr's vote is maxed out, but Phillies' unity-themed concession speech could be read as a rebuke of the radicals. Gravel should be eliminated on the next ballot, and the Barr campaign has been wooing Gravel.
Mrs. Barr is at Barr's exhibition-hall booth, watching the balloting on the campaign's plasma-screen TV. She's sitting with Sharon Harris of Advocates for Self-Government. Harris is a Georgia LP delegate.
THIRD BALLOT: Barr 186, Ruwart 186, Root 146, Gravel 78, Phillies 31.
This is not good news for Barr, who loses 2 votes, Ruwart gains 24. Now the fourth ballot begins, with George Phillies eliminated. He now addresses the delegates: "I will not speak ill of a fellow Libertarian." Thanks Gravel and Root, Ruwart and Barr. "The enemy is not here! The enemy is out there! The enemy is not our fellow Libertarians!" A unity speech.
Lots of strategizing and intrigue going on in this dogfight. Official ballot results at the LP site.
Just spoke to Bob Barr's wife, Jeri, who said, "It's a nail-biter." Her husband's campaign staff is working the floor of the convention. I just overheard one Barr staffer tell another, "Who wants to be Ruwart's running mate?"
SECOND BALLOT: Barr 188, Ruwart 162, Root 138, Gravel 73, Phillies 36, Kubby 32.
Kubby, the California pro-pot candidate, will be dropped from the third ballot. Kubby now addresses the convention, throws his support to Mary Ruwart.
After the first ballot, a Barr delegate from Alabama said, "Oh, God, it's a dog fight." Barr's vote grew from 25% on the first ballot to 30% on the second ballot, while Ruwart's vote increased from 25% to 26%. Whether Kubby's endorsement will add to Ruwart's third-ballot total will be interesting to see. Some Kubby votes may go to other candidates.
FIRST BALLOT: Bob Barr leads on the first ballot with 153 votes, Mary Ruwart with 152 votes, and 123 votes for Wayne Allyn Root. This is a strong showing for the two "pragmatist" candidates, Barr and Root, with a combined 276 votes. Three other candidates will qualify for the second ballot: Mike Gravel with 71 votes, George Phillies with 49 votes, and Steve Kubby with 41 votes. Michael Jingozian and Christine Smith were eliminated in the first round, where there were also several write-in votes for Ron Paul.
Jingozian just spoke "by indulgence of the chair," endorsing Gravel. Smith also speaks, very angry, slams Barr.
Expect updates ....
PREVIOUSLY: It's just been announced that a total of 652 delegates are eligible to vote at the Libertarian Party convention, and it will take a majority of 327 to win. The first round of voting just commenced.
My friend John LaBeaume, a DC delegate, predicts Wayne Allyn Root and Mary Ruwart for a 1-2 finish on the first ballot, with Bob Barr third. A first-ballot win for any candidate is unlikely. The real wheeling and dealing is expected to begin before the second ballot.
One delegate told me that Ruwart seemed visibly angered by Michael Jingozian's endorsement of Mike Gravel. Jingozian had to solicit tokens from other candidates in order to qualify for the C-SPAN debate, and if Ruwart gave Jingozian tokens, she has a right to feel betrayed.
UPDATE: Just talked to Bob Barr, who said he's feeling good about his chances, and is prepared for multiple rounds of balloting. "We'll be here as long as it takes," he said.
Also talked to Wayne Allyn Root, who said he got a "landslide" from the California delegation on the first ballot. The first-ballot totals will be announced in just a few minutes.
UPDATE II: South Carolina and Virginia went strong for Barr. Tennessee and Texas went heavily for Ruwart. Georgia gave 33 votes for Barr.
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