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Black Professor to Seek Libertarians’ Presidential Nod

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A pretty house on a cul-de-sac here may one day be marked as an historical site, if Richard B. Boddie’s dream comes true.

Boddie, a 52-year-old professional lecturer and college professor who lives with his wife and three daughters in the house on Voyager Circle, is engaged in a national political contest with history-making potential. He is running for the 1992 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party.

“If I get it,” he said, “I’ll be the first black male ever to head a national ticket in the history of the United States.”

According to the research publication Congressional Quarterly, Boddie’s claim cannot be fully documented because hundreds of short-lived, minor political parties spring up every four years and nominate someone for the U.S. presidency, often in just one state. But Congressional Quarterly researchers said that they could find no previous presidential race in which a black man has headed a ticket that qualified in numerous states.

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In 1988, a black woman, Lenora Fulani of New York, ran for President on a national ticket, the New Alliance Party.

But the Libertarian Party is one of the nation’s better-known minor political parties, and it usually qualifies its presidential ticket in almost all of the 50 states. Boddie’s goal is to win the Libertarian nomination at the party’s Chicago convention this September. “And then I want to attract a lot of national attention to the party,” he said.

“We think 1992 is the year for the Libertarian Party. Because everyone’s already telling the Democrats, ‘Why run? You can’t win.’ Our party has been up against that comment for years, and we know how to respond.”

The response, Boddie says, is that the Libertarian Party is different .

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“The Republican and Democratic parties are basically the same,” he said. “Both parties have the idea that all you do is switch the government every four to eight years: It’s either welfare or warfare.

“The Libertarian Party is the only political party in the United States that is working in a consistent, principled way for everyone’s liberty on every issue, 365 days a year.”

Boddie said he firmly believes in the Libertarian philosophy that “less government is best.” The party, he said, opposes government intervention in people’s lives, including attempts to regulate gun use. “We are the only political party backing the Second Amendment to the Constitution--the right to bear arms. . . . We are the American dissident party.”

The party was founded in 1971 and claims to be the third largest political party in the United States. Its beliefs include repeal of “every law which says you can’t do what you want to do just because you might hurt yourself,” according to the party publication, “Liberty Today.” Libertarians also favor privatizing education and the repeal of minimum wage, zoning and building-code laws.

Boddie’s major opponent for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination is Andre Marrou, a former Alaska legislator who was the party’s candidate for vice president in 1988. Boddie said that he and Marrou are seeking commitments from Libertarian delegates to the party’s Chicago convention over Labor Day weekend.

“Our party traditionally holds its nomination that early because of the need for ballot access” (qualifying to be on the ballot in every state).

A tall, trim man with graying hair, Boddie was born in Elmira, N.Y. He received his bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and his law degree from Syracuse University. He gives motivational lectures all over the nation and teaches law and sociology classes part time at La Verne University in Los Angeles County.

Boddie is an animated, engaging speaker. The Libertarian Party, in previous presidential races, has used him to help get signatures to qualify the party for state ballots. He makes himself available for such party chores by volunteering for numerous broadcast interviews.

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“I like radio talk shows, and I think I’m pretty good on them,” he said.

Boddie said he also thinks he has a good chance of winning the nomination.

“I didn’t at first, but I do now. A lot of people have perceived Andre Marrou as the favorite. Well, let me tell you, I’m a former track runner--the 400 meters--and I want my competitor to be in front of me coming off that third turn, because he can’t see me. But then I’m going to lean into the race . . . and win.”


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