Document:LPNY 1994 Convention Report (Ernsberger)

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by Don Ernsberger

This morning (Saturday April 23rd) I drove 4.5 hours to Albany to attend the New York Free Libertarian Party convention. I had been asked to serve as Parliamentarian by State chair Vogel as well as Tamara Clark. By 8:00 AM several hundred LP members as well as many "Howard Stern fans" had gathered at the convention location.

The New York LPers had arranged an efficient registration system requiring a letter for admission to the Hall as well as traditional registration process. By 9:30 when Howard Stern and his staff arrived over 250 certified delegates had been registered and had taken their place in the hall. Over 130 members of the media were also present. Tamara Clark and the local LP group had arranged a press room and a well organized media/press effort occured. Stern's arrival generated a "pep rally" atmosphere outside the hall and the convention kicked off at 10:00 AM. In addition to the efforts of the New York LP activists, volunteers from Pennsylvania (John Famularo, Tom Brennen, Rick Schwartz and Jay Russell) helped keep the sessions orderly. National Director and Communications Director: Willis and Winter were also there to work with the media.

At 10:00 the credentials committee reported 372 eligible delegates with no contested delegate slots. The credentals committee report was accepted by the body and the report of secretary concerning the six announced candidates for governor was accepted. Nominations and seconds for the six candidates were made and the convention heard a 12 minute presentation by each candidate.

Inside the hall were about 130 press, 372 delegates, and about 50 staff and observers. Outside the hall were another 200 or so Stern Fans.

The Stern supporters ranged from many "small l" libertarians to many who were only interested in book autographs and being fans. The convention plans were to have all votes by paper ballot. At the opening of the vote a motion from the floor was made to have a standing counted vote. This motion passed but the protests of various delegates and candidates resulted in a substitution of voting in alphabetic order by paper ballot.

The result of the first ballot was Howard Stern with 287 (253 needed to nominate). The other candidate vote totals ranged from about 35 for Jim Ostrowski to about 25 for Norma Segel to about 10 for Joe Brennen and Dottie Lou Brokaw.

No clear favorite had emerged from long time LP activists. In his acceptance speech, Howard Stern urged party unity and asked the delegates to pick his choice for Lt. Gov. Stan Dworkin. Amid protests from a number of long time LP activists regarding this choice, the body selected Stern's suggestion.

Dworkin is a former Democratic County offical who is pro-choice on abortion; pledged to the death penalty, legalized gambling, and lower taxes. He voiced support for "studying the case for legalized marijuana". He appears to favor "Jack Kemp like" economic reforms. Many LP activists do not regard him as a "libertarian" however.

It remains to be seen how the media covers this convention and the effect of the Stern selections on the long term LP activists. Some saw the convention as a "Stern takeover" ... a takeover by non-libertarians. Others saw it as a chance to gain ballot status and massive publicity.

I personally found the typical "Stern supporter" to be both more libertarian and more well behaved then I had expected. Howard Stern also impressed many as being more serious and concerned with LP growth then expected.