Press Release from Paul Hager
Prominent Libertarian Party member Paul Hager announces that he is joining Republicans.
For immediate release, 28 April 2002.
(Bloomington, IN) - Yesterday at the Libertarian Party of Indiana state convention in Indianapolis, long-time Libertarian Party member Paul Hager stunned convention delegates by announcing that he was leaving the party to join the Republicans. The announcement came after Hager lost his bid to become the party's nominee for Secretary of State.
Hager, who was the Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate in 2000 and for Congress in 1996 and 1998, said his reason for leaving is that the Libertarian Party is dying and unwilling to do what is necessary to save itself. "Issues are important to me, not party. A political party exists to advance issues. The Libertarian Party has never moved beyond fringe status in its 30 year existence. If the Libertarian Party won't do what's necessary to achieve major party status, then if I'm going to accomplish anything, it'll have to be through one of the existing major parties."
"In Indiana and nationally, membership has dropped over 15% since 2000," said Hager. "The only strategy the party has come up with is to run a large number of candidates to create the appearance of growth. This is self-defeating because it magnifies the party's losses and reinforces the fact that Libertarians are a 'wasted vote'. Even worse, running so many candidates means that quite a few are visibly and embarrassingly unqualified for the offices they seek."
Hager had urged the Libertarian Party to save itself by embracing what he called "democratic voting reform". He said the two party system is "unassailable" as long as we continue to use the current voting method, technically known as plurality voting. Hager sought to use his campaign to promote a very simple alternative called approval voting, which picks the true majority winner in races of three or more candidates while allowing the other candidates to show their true strength. It eliminates the possibility of two candidates with similar strengths splitting the vote, or a third party candidate with little support "spoiling" the race for a major party candidate in a close race. Adoption of approval voting, said Hager, would have freed voters to support Libertarian candidates without the fear of accidentally electing their less preferred major party candidate. "Without such reform, the Libertarian Party has nowhere to go, and I have decided not to go there with them. I don't take the party's rejection of my campaign or its issue personally, but the time has come to move on."
"Ironically, because it was so easy to run for major office as a Libertarian, I came to the attention of a number of important people in the Republican Party," said Hager. "When I was first invited to join the Republican Party three years ago, I was surprised and flattered but demurred at that time. But, to be honest, I've been flirting with the idea ever since."
Hager said his decision to make the jump to the Republican Party was based on the fact that people like Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Congressman Ron Paul of Texas are philosophical libertarians who ran as Republicans and won. "In fact, Ron Paul was the Libertarian Party candidate for President in 1988." Hager said that the most influential libertarians today are Republicans or refugees from the Libertarian Party involved with the non-partisan Cato Institute.
Among the Republican candidates for Secretary of State, Hager is most impressed with Mike Delph. "Mike and I first met when we were both out campaigning last summer. He's a bright, articulate guy and he's talking about issues actually relevant to the office - in particular working to improve the election process in Indiana. I consider him the strongest candidate to face [Democrat] John Fernandez in the fall."
Now that he is a Republican, what are Hager's plans? "Decompress and take stock for now. And I'm looking forward to May 7 when I will vote in my first ever Republican Primary."
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