Pan SF Libertarian dragged from convention; party nominates gay man for president

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Wednesday May 29, 2024
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San Francisco Libertarian Party Chair Starchild unfurled a banner during former President Donald Trump's speech May 25 and was dragged out by security. Image: Via MSNBC
San Francisco Libertarian Party Chair Starchild unfurled a banner during former President Donald Trump's speech May 25 and was dragged out by security. Image: Via MSNBC

A pansexual San Francisco Libertarian official was dragged out of his party's convention during former President Donald Trump's speech last weekend, just before America's third-largest political party nominated a gay man for president of the United States.

That nominee is Chase Oliver, 38, who's from Georgia and is a former candidate for U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. Oliver, a sales account executive, was nominated May 26 on the convention's seventh ballot.

Oliver's campaign didn't return comment for this report; last summer he told the Bay Area Reporter he'd been an Obama Democrat, but soured on the then-president's expansion of the security state; the continuation of U.S. detention of foreign nationals at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and the expansion of international counterterrorism efforts of dubious legality under international law.

Chase Oliver was nominated as the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee. Photo: Screen capture: YouTube/ABC 11  

Oliver isn't the first gay Libertarian candidate; the party had nominated John Hospers as its first-ever presidential nominee in 1972. Hospers became the first known openly gay candidate for U.S. president.

At the convention — which was held at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C. May 24-27 — Oliver had the support of Starchild, who is the chair of the San Francisco County Libertarian Party and was a delegate. Starchild, who uses one name, had told the B.A.R. last summer he was not committed to Oliver, but later changed his mind.

"I was leaning in that direction all along," Starchild said in a phone interview May 28. "I thought it was possible some other big name candidate might come into the race. He's the only ex-Democrat to be nominated before. I think he's very well spoken."

But Starchild became a star of the convention himself after he was dragged off the convention floor Saturday by who he believes were hotel security personnel. The imbroglio began when Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle invited the three top-polling candidates for president to speak at the convention — none of whom are Libertarians. Those who attended were Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a Democrat-turned-independent. President Joe Biden, a Democrat, was invited but did not attend.

According to the's average of polls, Kennedy is polling at about 10% nationally — which would make him the best performing independent since Ross Perot won 18.9% in 1992.

"Our party chair unilaterally decided to invite Trump to speak to our convention," Starchild said. "A lot of people weren't happy about that, the Trump invite in particular."

Kennedy spoke the night before Trump. Kennedy's name was entered into nomination, but he was eliminated after only getting 19 votes on the first ballot.

Asked why the Libertarians eschewed the scion of one of America's most prominent political families, Starchild said, "it really is that we have principles and things we stand for, and if someone comes along and doesn't align with those values, it doesn't matter how popular they are or how many votes they'd get us."

'Planned to protest'
Starchild said he had "planned to protest" when Trump came. Though security was preventing people from taking in signs critical of this year's presumptive Republican Party nominee, Starchild managed to bring in a banner written on a sheet that read "No Wannabe Dictators!" This was in addition to a sign he'd been approved to bring in that stated, "Restore the Republic. Abolish the Empire."

That banner matched Starchild's outfit — Princess Leia from the "Star Wars" films.

"I often dress outrageously or in some kind of drag or something," he said.

But Starchild believes it was the "No Wannabe Dictators!" banner he unfurled that provoked a reaction when several people — at least three principally, who Starchild believes were employed by the hotel — came to drag him away.

"When I was getting dragged and pulled I was trying to keep my costume from getting ripped," Starchild recalled.

Nonetheless, he appreciated the opportunity to protest Trump.

"It was very cathartic — it's not often you get to be 30 feet away from the disgraced former president, so-called leader of the free world, and shout what's on your mind," said Starchild, who had yelled, "You are a threat to civil liberties," at Trump. "That felt very gratifying — I'm sure he saw the banner."

Ultimately, Trump said the party should join the GOP by nominating him — "You have to combine with us," he said.

"What's the purpose of the Libertarian Party of getting 3%?" Trump asked. "You should nominate Trump for president only if you want to win." (Jorgensen, the Libertarian nominee in 2020, got 1.1% of the vote.)

Trump did not submit the necessary paperwork to get his name placed in nomination for the Libertarian Party. Six delegates wrote in his name when they voted for whom to nominate. Starchild suspects a good number of the people who came to the convention to see Trump were not party members.

The Trump campaign did not return a request for comment.

At the end of the day, Starchild is probably not going to pursue charges or take other legal action.

"That has definitely been raised to me as a possibility — probably not," he said. "I'm not totally closed to it, but I'm not going to sue the party. As much as I have disagreements with the party leadership, they don't have direct control over hotel security. I'm not really that inclined to do that [sue the hotel] either. It looked pretty bad, and it was traumatic in the moment ... but it wasn't that bad, compared to how many people are treated by police and law enforcement."

Hilton Hotels & Resorts did not return a request for comment.

In a statement posted to X on May 28, McArdle defended herself.

"Everyone is understandably flipping out right now," she stated. "I will have more to say this weekend. For now, I will say that I delivered an incredible convention, with the help of my amazing staff and volunteers. All of my critics were WRONG. I made the right call to invite Donald Trump and if Libertarians can behave themselves, he will free Ross Ulbricht and put one of us in his cabinet. Ball's in your court, libertarians. We are getting in that administration."

Ulbricht (who coincidentally was arrested by the FBI in 2013 at the Glen Park branch of the San Francisco Public Library), is serving life in federal prison without the possibility of parole. He had founded Silk Road, an online black market and part of the dark web.

He was convicted on federal charges of engaging in a criminal enterprise, conspiracy to distribute narcotics, distributing narcotics, distributing narcotics online, conspiring to commit money laundering, conspiring to traffic in false identity documents and conspiring to commit computer hacking.

Trump pledged during his speech at the convention that "on day No. 1, I will commute the sentence of Ross Ulbricht to a sentence of time served. He's already served 11 years. We're going to get him home."

Ulbricht was first sentenced to double life imprisonment plus 40 years, without the possibility of parole, two years before Trump became president. The Daily Beast reported in December 2020 that Trump "expressed sympathy" for Ulbricht; however the then-president ultimately did not pardon him.

6/4/24: This article has been updated to indicate Starchild now identifies as pansexual and revises some wording around his banner.

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