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Old 02-19-04   #1
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Medical marijuana ads play role in defeat of U.S. Rep. Bob Barr

The “worst Drug Warrior in Congress” has lost his seat -- and the Libertarian Party appears to have played a small role in making it happen.


Medical marijuana ads play role in defeat of U.S. Rep. Bob Barr

The “worst Drug Warrior in Congress” has lost his seat -- and the Libertarian Party appears to have played a small role in making it happen.

U.S. Rep. Bob Barr, an outspoken opponent of medical marijuana, was defeated by Rep. John Linder in a Republican primary election in Georgia on August 20. With 82% of precincts reporting, Linder had 67% of the vote to Barr’s 33%, prompting Barr’s concession.

Over the past two weeks, Barr had been the target of a barrage of television ads produced by the Libertarian Party. The ads were run by Carole Ann Rand, the LP candidate for U.S. House in Georgia’s 7th Congressional district.

“Barr’s defeat is a victory for every American who believes that doctors and patients -- rather than politicians -- should be making medical decisions,” said Rand. “Like Babe Ruth pointing to a spot in the bleachers and hitting a home run, we pointed at our target and helped knock him out of Congress.”

The campaign to bump Bob Barr was the first test of the Libertarian Party’s “Incumbent Killer Strategy,” which is targeting the worst drug warriors in Congress for defeat.

The Rand campaign purchased approximately $40,000 worth of television advertising spots to attack the four-term incumbent -- including spots on broadcast networks Fox and NBC.

The ad also aired about 4,000 times on cable systems in the district.

While the amount of money the LP spent on the ads was small compared to overall spending in the hard-fought campaign, LP Political Director Ron Crickenberger said the issue-based ad, which features a multiple sclerosis sufferer and medical marijuana patient, quickly became a “lightning rod for publicity.”

“Both Barr and Linder ran personality-based, feel-good ads -- leaving us a huge opportunity to inject our issue into the public debate,” he said.

The Libertarian ad campaign received heavy coverage from newspapers throughout the district, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the most widely circulated newspaper in the state.

The hard-hitting commercial was also a frequent topic on talk radio, and was touted by Neal Boortz, an Atlanta-based talk radio host and Libertarian Party member.

Barr’s “out-of-touch” position on medical marijuana may have alienated many of the Congressman’s supporters -- and cost him votes, said Crickenberger, who produced the ad.

“With polls showing 73% support for medical marijuana, we were able to dramatize how out of step Barr is with ordinary voters,” he said. “And while Barr’s loss was attributable to many factors, it’s clear that these ads put another nail into his political coffin.”

The LP’s “Incumbent Killer Strategy” is one component of the party’s comprehensive plan to end federal drug prohibition within the decade.

Future targets include U.S. Sen. Tim Hutchison (R-AR), U.S. Sen. Max Cleland (D-GA), U.S. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), and U.S. Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-T. All have been marked for defeat in the November 2002 general election.

“With this victory, we have fired a warning shot for every drug warrior in Congress to hear,” said Crickenberger. “And any member of Congress -- Democrat or Republican -- who introduces legislation to make federal drug laws even more oppressive could be next on our list.”
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Old 02-20-04   #2
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