As reported by Rebecca Zepick on State of the State KS, former Republican Congressional candidate from the fourth district of Kansas Wink Hartman may be considering another run for that position, this time as nominee of the Kansas Libertarian Party.
Zepick reported the news Saturday in the story Hartman Considering Re-Entering Race For Congress Against Pompeo and Goyle. She appeared later that day by telephone on KNSS Radio’s Jim Anderson Program, as did several others involved in this story.
Anderson’s radio program proved to be a sounding board for several issues surrounding this race. For example: All the Republican Party candidates pledged, several times, to support the winner of the Republican primary. A caller to Anderson’s radio show brought up this point, and reminded Anderson — the host of the show — that he, too, made the pledge. Anderson became agitated, at one point threatening to cut off the caller.
Anderson said that after a certain point, the campaign changed and became negative. Although he didn’t say so explicitly, it is clear that Anderson believes the negativity releases him from his pledge to support the winner of the primary. “I’m not supporting anybody right now,” he told listeners. He repeated this later in the show.
After this, Kansas Libertarian Party Chair and candidate for governor Andrew Gray appeared as a guest, calling in by telephone. Gray said the key to Hartman joining the ticket is Hartman’s ability to — currently or in the future — fit in the “Libertarian mode.”
Michael O’Donnell, a staff member in the Hartman campaign, then appeared by telephone and noted, as had Anderson, that the pledges to support the eventual primary election winner were made before the campaign became negative. True enough.
But where O’Donnell missed the mark is in his assertion that the Pompeo campaign launched the first negative attacks, referring to information made available about Hartman’s Florida home ownership and his Florida voting record. Hartman’s recent Florida voting record was first reported by me on this site.
While this information was not convenient to the Hartman campaign, it did not fall into the category of negative campaigning. This is the type of information voters are interested in. It was a matter of public record. It was all true.
O’Donnell said that the Hartman campaign merely retaliated. But it did much more than that, launching some vicious attacks on Pompeo using the techniques of negative campaigns. Hartman’s campaign escalated the attacks, culminating with a charge against Pompeo that Hartman could not back up with convincing evidence.
The pledges to support the primary winner were not made conditionally. They were absolute. In particular, candidates Anderson and Jean Schodorf need to step up and support Pompeo, the nominee. Evidently Paij Rutschman has made a financial contribution to the Pompeo campaign, but her website doesn’t endorse Pompeo.
Looking forward, O’Donnell said that he wanted to make sure that Hartman didn’t appear as a “sore loser mentality.” Losing a primary and then running on a different ticket qualifies as just that: a sore loser. And Hartman lost the primary election in a big way. Hartman’s support declined in the polls as the election drew closer. From July 1 to July 28 his campaign did not receive a single dollar in campaign contributions other than those made by the candidate himself.
Now Hartman may seek another round.
It’s difficult to see what positive things Hartman would accomplish as the Libertarian Party candidate. His political views are barely compatible with those of libertarians. Hartman seems the type of Republican that pokes fun of libertarians — like me — for their absolute defense of personal liberty (including legalization of all drugs and prostitution), a peaceful and non-imperialist foreign policy, deregulation of marriage (not prohibiting gay marriage), a welcoming approach to immigrants (instead of the fortified border that Hartman advocated during the campaign), and uncompromising opposition to corporate welfare (as reported, Hartman will receive many millions in such welfare in conjunction with his Hartman Arena).
The Kansas Libertarian Party has a decision to make, too. Will it embrace a candidate — one clearly non-libertarian and blemished from running a negative campaign — who can contribute millions to its cause and give the party a big boost in coverage and recognition?