by Tom Finkel
With a campaign slogan like “Dubie vs. Blunt ’08” and a moniker like Chief Wana Dubie, you’d think Joseph Bickell is trying to put the party in the 2008 Missouri governor’s race.
In a MySpace blog entry dated January 13, Dubie writes, “Chief needs a new party. Libertarian party distances itself from the Chief. I guess they think the Chief is too extreme,” and links to this column from the Springfield News-Leader, decrying Wana Dubie’s extreme views. In another post he declares himself “too free for the Libertarian party.”
In 2006 Dubie ran for the Missouri House of Representatives as a Libertarian in the 150th District. He lost, but snagged 4.5 percent of the vote. Dubie, who has a pot leaf tattooed on his forehead, was arrested for growing 135 marijuana plants just before the election.
Greg Tlapek, executive director of the Missouri Libertarian Party, says in a phone interview that the party has not officially declined his fee, which cannot be filed until February 25, but that many party members are opposed to Dubie and his kooky tie-dyed hippie image running for governor as a Libertarian in a year when support for the party is at an all-time high owing to the success of presidential candidate Ron Paul.
“The party did not take official action to keep him off the ballot, but there are some who did not want him to be candidate,” Tlapek reports. “As catchy as it may be to have ‘Dubie versus Blunt,’ we would have received a lot of media attention about it. That’s not how we want the Libertarian Party to be represented to people who don’t know the party’s platform. He took his own action, it was his own decision not to run as a Libertarian, but it does not displease a lot of people in the party.”
Tlapek says the party does not currently have a candidate for governor.
The Missouri Libertarian Party last refused a filing fee in 2006, when Glenn Miller, a white supremacist, attempted to run for Congress as a Libertarian. (Miller was turned down by the Republicans and Democrats as well.)
“I’m personally against the idea of refusing even the white supremacist’s fee,” Tlapek says. “It sets a bad precedent -- that party insiders get to decide who they vote on. That’s the whole purpose of a primary: to get the decisions out of a smoke-filled back room. Well, we’ve kind of thrown it back into room by letting political insiders decide who runs.”
Incidentally, earlier in the week the U.S. Supreme Court had voted unanimously to uphold precisely such a policy.
“Party conventions, with their attendant ‘smoke-filled rooms’ and domination by party leaders, have long been an accepted manner of selecting party candidates,” Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in a twleve-page opinion on the decision.
Not everyone involved in the Libertarian Party is opposed to Wana Dubie running.
“Returning his filing fee would not only be stump-stupid, it would also be at least close to an abuse of power,” writes Thomas Knapp, a member of the St. Louis County Libertarian Central Committee in an e-mail to Tlapek that’s posted on Wana Dubie’s MySpace blog. “If we want press, I suppose that publicly repudiating the MOLP candidate who turned in the best performance in a three-way race in 2006, and who arguably achieved not only the most, but the most positive, publicity for the MOLP in that year, is one way to get it.”
“That is internal party discussion. It should not be on his blog. That’s stuff that should have been just internal party information,” Tlapek says.
The Libertarian Party isn’t the only natural ally that doesn’t want any part of the Chief. Dan Viets, an attorney who coordinates the Missouri chapter of NORML, says his organization can’t endorse candidates owing to its nonprofit status, but if it could, Wana Dubie would be NORML’s last choice.
“I guess I could call myself Chief Wana Abortion and declare myself a candidate and try and to get Planned Parenthood to help me, but they’d stay a mile away from me,” says Viets. “[Wana Dubie] doesn’t do anything to further the debate on [the issue of medical marijuana]. I can’t see that he does a goddamn thing other than bring attention to himself.”