Update: This interview was published on July 12, 2012. On August 1, the New Mexico Secretary of State informed Jon Barrie that he doesn’t have enough valid signatures to be on the November ballot as the Independent American Party nominee for U.S. Senate. He would have been the first minor party or independent candidate for U.S. Senate on the New Mexico ballot since 1996 if he had had enough valid signatures. He was told he lacks 277 valid signatures.
The state requires 6,018 valid signatures. On June 26 he had submitted 10,279 signatures. He had already successfully collected 3,009 signatures on a different petition to qualify the Independent American Party. New Mexico, alone among the states, requires a newly-qualifying party to submit one petition to qualify itself, and then separate petitions for each of its nominees (other than presidential nominees).
Barrie had created the Independent American Party mostly as a vehicle so that he could run for U.S. Senate. If he had run as an independent, he would have needed 18,054 valid signatures. He contested the finding that he did not have enough valid signatures and the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that his name be placed on the ballot.
Peter Gemma: Jon, first thanks for slowing down enough from your frantic pace of campaigning to talk with theIndependent Political Report. Second, congrats on making ballot access in a very tough state. Tell me about your background.
Jon Barrie: Thanks, Peter. I was born in Paris, Tennessee as an army brat. My father served in the military for nine years and we moved many times during that period. I was raised mostly in Minnesota and North Dakota. I joined the US Air Force at 17 and spent eight years—including a tour in Vietnam. After leaving the service I finished my pilot training and served as a pilot and pilot manager in general aviation including over eleven years with the Federal Aviation Administration. I have a Bachelor and Master of Science degree in aviation management, and now I am Homeopathic Practitioner—an alternative health provider. That required about four years of training. In addition to having experience in the private and public sectors, I have always been involved in civic affairs including as a volunteer for Junior Achievement and the American Heart and Stroke association. I consider myself a devout Christian and I am active in my church.
PG: That brings us to last year, when we met at a Ron Paul function and where you expressed an interest in running for U.S. Senate. Why did you decide to actually gear up and file?
JB: In the last several years I have watched my country lose its’ constitutional perspective—the federal government has far exceeded the limits placed on it by the Constitution. Our elected representatives have allowed this to happen while enriching their status. I quite simply want my country back and a better life for my grandchildren. After careful consideration and much prayer, I decided to be a candidate for U.S. Senate, as I believe that is an office that can have the most impact in restoring this nation. Our country is trillions of dollars in debt and this trend is continuing while we are being taxed beyond any reasonable measure. I found out about the Independent American Party through a friend and realized that it was a Christian conservative party with principles that I relate and adhere to.
PG: Tell me about the Independent American Party?
JB: The Independent American Party (IAP) has been in existence since 1998 and has evolved into a stand-alone party that wants to restore our constitution. The party has been officially recognized and on the ballot in New Mexico thanks to a lot of hard work by volunteers collecting the required signatures. There are several states other state IAP affiliates now working towards ballot access. Some state affiliates of the Constitution Parties are considering a possible merge with the IAP. I think the Oregon Constitution party is in discussions with the IAP right now and I believe Utah, Kansas and Nevada have been approached. Our party has been in touch with the national Constitution Party to discuss merging the Constitution Party into the IAP, however that does not seem to be forthcoming to date. The IAP and the Constitution Party share many views so time will tell.
PG: New Mexico has a convoluted and prohibitive way for alternative parties and candidates to get ballot access. I understand there were big hurdles to get the IAP listed as an option for voters come November.
JB: Well, the two party system controls the political arena in New Mexico like other states. In order to get the IAP on the ballot, a minimum of 3,000 petition signatures had to be collected. Our volunteers collected almost 6,000 and we gained ballot access. This access will be valid as long as the party has candidates in two consecutive general elections and or if the total votes cast for the parties candidates for governor or president of the United States do not equal one half of one percent of the total votes cast for governor or president.
PG: How did you manage to get the party on the ballot? Was there an IAP organization in place?
JB: We submitted the required signatures as well as the organization required by the state in the elections handbook. We had to establish the party in New Mexico from scratch, as there was no IAP in existence in New Mexico. We had a small core of dedicated volunteers who collected the signatures at colleges, flea markets, gun shows and other events as well as door to door. The reaction to our requests for signatures was fantastic. People are hungry for political alternatives. The signature petitions and application for the party was submitted on April 3, 2012 per the New Mexico election guidelines. Our efforts took place from January to April.
PG: Now comes yet another barrier for third party candidates—the New Mexico IAP gains ballot access, but as I understand it they cannot just nominate you as their candidate for U.S. Senate. What’s that about?
JB: I believe it is to make it difficult, if not impossible, for third party candidates to gain ballot access. We had to have 6,028 valid petition signatures to get my name listed as the IAP candidate for U.S. Senate. We turned in 10,279. Believe it or not Peter, all of this was done with a core of about a dozen dedicated hardworking volunteers! The Democratic and Republican parties needed between 2,000 and 5,000 signatures depending on their threshold requirements. That is about 50 percent less than a minor party.
PG: Who are the candidates you’ll be up against? What are their platforms?
JB: I am up against two career politicians. The Democratic candidate, Martin Heinrich, is presently a sitting Congressman and has decided not to run for re-election and run for the U.S. Senate instead. The Republican candidate, Heather Wilson, served five terms as a Congresswoman and decided to run for U.S. Senate in 2008—she was defeated in that effort but she’s back this year. Both of these candidates have voted for bailouts and liberty-infringing legislation. The Democrat has followed party guidelines and leadership almost as a rubber stamp of the present administration policies. Heather Wilson has voted for Democratic and Republican bills and has not fully supported the Republican platform by voting for higher taxes and government spending. Not much difference between my opponents.
JB: I plan on representing the people of New Mexico and this nation by adhering to constitutional principles. I want to eliminate many taxes and lower all taxes. I will work to decrease the size and scope of the federal government and to reduce the many rules and regulations that are preventing individuals and businesses to succeed. It is time to bring our military forces home from undeclared and unconstitutional wars. We must immediately leave Afghanistan as we have been fighting there longer than the two world wars we were involved in. My basic platform is one of constitutional standards with a government that is controlled by the people. I classify myself as a true Christian, Constitutional Conservative.
PG: American Crossroads, GOP operative Karl Rove’s super PAC, just went up with its second ad in New Mexico on behalf of Heather Wilson the Republican candidate. They spent $184,000 on the ad. New Mexico is a priority for Rove’s operation. What do you say to critics who believe you will be the spoiler for a Wilson win? You know Jon, people will say she could throw some important votes our way as opposed to Heinrich who will probably get single digit ratings from the right-of-center grades.
JB: The vote will be divided among the three of us so I will need less than a majority to win. I will garner votes from disaffected Democrats and Republicans. I will definitely get the Independent and Constitutional voters which have increased significantly in the past year or so. Wilson has proven to be a RINO in her voting history and of course Heinrich is a “rubber stamp” Democrat. Essentially, it doesn’t matter to those of us who hold to Constitutional principles that one office holder gets it 30% right and another has a 10% rating. If the Republicans don’t want “spoilers” in the race, then they should read the IAP platform and adopt our standards.
PG: Ron Paul received over 15,000 votes in 2008, but brought out a disappointing 1,600 voters this year. While 1,600 is a pretty good pool of Constitutionalist-oriented voters to draw volunteers from, how can you reach Paul’s 15,000 supporters from 2008—or even a good number of people who supported the relatively libertarian Governor Gary Johnson some years ago?
JB: My volunteers and I talked to about 20,000 people while collecting the signatures for my candidacy and for the IAP ballot line. The overwhelming majority supported my views. I can be elected if I can get my message out to the rest of New Mexico. My campaign is a grassroots effort that requires donations from individuals. As you know Peter, that’ll be a major hurdle. I believe that the contributions will begin to increase now that I am officially on the ballot. I plan to canvas the entire state in the coming months and carry my message to all communities.
PG: Any advice for those planning on independent or third party candidacies in 2014?
JB: I firmly believe that the time has come for the minor parties to be accepted by the public. The two major parties have failed to represent the people—or provide any meaningful changes in the decline and fall of the American dream—and the voting public has come to that realization. Ron Paul’s candidacy proves that. I encourage others to join the IAP or other parties like the Constitution Party and become candidates for any office. This present election year will set the tone for 2014 and give impetus to the minor party movement. If alternative parties and independent candidates score well, we’ll attract others to the third party movement. I’m trying to do my part in this effort.
PG: I appreciate your time Jon. Now get back to campaigning!
This article originally appeared in the Independent Political Report (http://www.independentpoliticalreport.com)