Our Interview with Bob Bingham, CEO of Unity08

Third Party Watch: Can you tell me a little bit of general background information about the Unity08 project?

Bob Bingham: Unity08 is a movement to renew our independence from the polarized politics in Washington. Unity08 will put forth a unity ticket of a Republican/Democrat/independent with a running mate from another party on the ballot in all 50 states for 2008. Every registered voter in America will have an opportunity to participate in this selection process with what we feel will be the largest- ever high-integrity online convention. Members post their views of the issues, and the candidates responses to those views will be discussed. Ultimately, we will put forth our Unity ticket into the general election in June 2008.

Unity08 was founded by Gerald Rafshoon, Doug Bailey and Hamilton Jordan along with Roger Craver and Jim Jonas. All former players on the national political stage, but all disillusioned with politics as usual in our Nation’s capitol. They decided that the Internet was at a point where it could be used for more than raising money for a candidate, and could be used to completely re-write the playbook of national politics. Unity08 was born.

I joined in June of this year. My background is technology having been involved in numerous Internet companies in my past. I’ve loaned the organization money and am being paid $1yr to be CEO. We built a small technology team to solidify the technology, and we recently brought on board Shilpi Niyogi as our National Ballot Access Director. We have a great team, and we are continuing to build it.

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Third Party Watch: Is Unity08 classified as a political party for the purposes of FEC reporting, or as some other type of entity?

Bob Bingham: We are currently classified as a 527 organization and have adopted a $5,000 cap on amount raised per person. Once we have a candidate identified and voted upon at our convention in June 2008, our status will change. Each state ballot access requirements are different and require us to register as a party in those individual states while we accomplish our ballot access.

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Third Party Watch: How are you doing with your goal of putting the Unity08 ticket on the ballot in all 50 states? Has this been a difficult hurdle to overcome?

Bob Bingham: Obviously, the only thing both parties can agree about is they don’t want a strong third party movement to spoil their party. We are positioning ourselves to do the work required in every state. We’ve done an amazing amount of research, talked with most of the experts in this space and have a number of third-party veterans joining our organizing efforts. You’ll begin to hear about some of our ballot access milestones in the near future

To say this is difficult is an understatement. As most of your readers know, ballot access is the gate keeping good ideas from entering the national stage in the form of more parties, more candidates and more dialogue. We hope to knock down some of these gatekeepers along the way. We certainly know that once we are successful it will be very hard to put the genie back in the bottle.

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Third Party Watch: Is Unity08 focusing entirely on Presidential politics or will you endorse candidates at the state and local level as well?

Bob Bingham: We are not focused at all on the state or local level for the 2008 election. We are focused on a singular audacious goal for a simple reason, it’s doable. As Americans, we do things that are impossible all the time, which is why we won’t only do this, but make history doing so. But you certainly won’t see anyone running for dog catcher on the Unity08 ticket in 2008

On the other hand the infrastructure of a website that can coalesce complex issues, allow candidates to address these issues, and then vote for representative candidates will be very hard to control in the future. I think you might hear about Unity08 in the future in other meaningful ways.

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Third Party Watch: Is there a chance we will see candidates running on the Unity08 line in states where the ballot access laws might force you to file as a political party?

Bob Bingham: We don’t expect to have any other 2008 candidates except for President/Vice President of the United States of America. I do expect that our Unity ticket will be more than just two people, as we expect our ticket to have identified other members of a real working cabinet. Wouldn’t that have been nice in 2000 to have known who was going to be Secretary of Defense?

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Third Party Watch: Early on many people seemed to believe that Unity08 was a shell organization being established to support a Michael Bloomberg Presidential campaign. I know that Mr. Bloomberg has largely backed away from talk of running for President, but has he had any contact with your group at any point?

Bob Bingham: I’ll tell you, it would certainly be much easier if we were a shell organization for Bloomberg. I would have the resources to make the website better, and the ballot access army to roll into every state and attain ballot access in a few months. But I certainly hope that you see we are a group of people building the technology, and the ballot access as the foundation to find what we hope will be the best potential candidates that have yet to enter the race. We’re doing all of this with small donations from thousands of regular people like you and me. We’re also making this work with upfront loans from some very dedicated American’s who are helping us build our infrastructure and initiate our ballot access program.

We have briefed over 50 potential candidates, some announced, some not. We have a policy that essentially says we won’t disclose these briefings leaving it up to the candidate to do so, if they feel so inclined. In the case of Bloomberg, we had an early conversation with the Bloomberg staff long before he switched parties as has been publicly reported.

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Third Party Watch: Former Senator Sam Nunn is another person who has been toying with a Presidential bid lately. Has he had an contact with Unity08?

Bob Bingham: Senator Nunn has talked with us as he indicated in a past newspaper interview in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’s time for the two parties to call a time out, and that while he has no plans to run for President, he has not ruled it out and Unity08 is an interesting concept.

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Third Party Watch: How will the Unity08 nominating process work? Will the Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates be chosen on seperate ballots? How would a person go about seeking the Unity08 nomination?

Bob Bingham: Membership in Unity08 is open to all registered voters in America. Unity08 members will be able to rank the issues that are important to them, and post potential questions to candidates prior to and at our Convention in June 2008. We expect prospective candidates to address these questions and issues with both text and video, and participate in a variety of other activities during our reinvention of the traditional political convention. Members then vote in early qualification rounds of voting until we are down to 5 potential candidates. At that time, the final candidates must select a running mate of their choosing, and are encouraged to select members of a cabinet to stand with them during what we expect to be the largest internet election in history. The members will then vote for the ticket on ballots that will continue until the winner gets 50% of the votes cast. This unity ticket will then go forth into the general election of 2008 a few months before either major party has their convention.

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Third Party Watch: Your Advisory Council includes several very notable figures. Of particular note are former Governors Angus King and William Weld, billionaire Mark Cuban, and actor Sam Waterson. To your knowledge, are any of those individuals entertaining the option of seeking a spot on the Unity08 ticket as the Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate?

Bob Bingham: I suspect that these folks would be fine potential candidates, but expect they will be satisfied with helping Unity08 gain ballot access, build the technology, and be successful in this historic effort. We are all involved in this effort because it’s a very serious effort to remake politics for a modern era, something much larger than any one of us.

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Third Party Watch: With Unity08 focused on a election for the moment, have you given any thought to what will happen beyond 2008? Win or lose, will the organization live on in some more permanent form?

Bob Bingham: The current team we have assembled and our potential candidates we have briefed have a singular focus on the 2008 election. But we can’t deny that there is some interest on the part of our membership to have a larger vision and look to other elected offices on a national and state level. The election of a President is the single largest game changer in Washington, and especially if they were elected through Unity08 they could govern from the common ground in the middle. We know the technology will be built, the ballot access apparatus will be in place. It’s not a stretch to wonder what might happen when millions of people take back their government.

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Third Party Watch: Thanks very much for talking with us and giving us some more information about the Unity08 movement. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Bob Bingham: I would encourage everyone to participate. We think there is room for everyone as we build our movement to remake the landscape of American politics. Join today at Unity08.com and help us get the word out. For the first election in our lifetime, a third alternative on the ballot will win. As I said in our recent press release, The next President of the United States has yet to enter the race!

25 Responses to “Our Interview with Bob Bingham, CEO of Unity08”

  1. Kyle B Says:

    very informative. great job with the interview

  2. Joseph Oddo Says:

    May the nominee of Unity 08 pick up a platform for reforming the election process nationwide. The National Election Reform Platform addresses what needs corrected in our elections. Supporting legislation for campaign financing, fair ballot access, participation in debates and even congressional voting rights for residents of DC are the objectives of Independent America. See more at www.IndependentAmerica.org.

  3. Eric Sundwall Says:

    I can’t say if it’s nice or sad to see former insider players on a national level concede ballot access difficulties/hell. What’s troubling is the hubris. While formerly maintaining a close position to power, why should the average citizen care about or even see Unity08 ? Without boots on the ground, what great inertial shift can these people possibly expect to foist on a system that was built to reduce faction. Two parties rule that exclusive roost. Protest or comply.

    While they are correct to assume that such a shift is possible only starting from the top, but a virtual convention with virtual candidates, perhaps it is the Ron Paul candidacies of the future that will make this come about. These hopes are premised upon the real possibility of success because their champion is in the big ring. Americans want and love winners or technically possible winners. Either way, without passion or conviction, what possible purpose could such an effort serve ? At the very least they are gambling on some token populism, technology and a pat on the back from Time magazine.

  4. matt Says:

    Whenever people talk about generalized “change” without specifying the changes they intend to make, I smell a rat.

    When the group intends to nominate based on an internet format with what I suspect will be shoddy oversight, I smell two rats.

    Because of my suspicions, I could not be less interested in Unity08.

  5. Trent Hill Says:

    They have NO platform. Only “change” and “bipartisanship”.

    Well guess what, I hate bipartisanship,because I hate both parties.

  6. Austin Cassidy Says:

    I don’t understand the hatred by some against this group. It stikes me as a more general independent movement like the John Anderson campaign or even Ross Perot. Maybe it doesn’t work for Libertarians or Greens… but it’s an interesting idea regardless.

    This could be an extremely useful vehicle for an independnet candidate with strong “netroots” as they say. If Ron Paul did decide to continue his campaign beyond the GOP Primaries I would bet that he would consider Unity08 pretty strongly. His supporters could probably swarm the organization as delegates and nominate him without too much difficulty.

  7. Citizens For A Better Veterans Home[s] Says:

    John Anderson [of 1980’s National Unity Party] spend lots of time in FLorida.

  8. Jay Harris Says:

    I think that Unity 08 will be better served with a candidate like Daniel Imperato. Imperato 2008 Website

  9. Old Republic Federalism Says:

    Austin, I notice you’ve cleaned up the site a bit lately. Nice work, I like the new logos and other changes and I hope this is the start of a trend! Very nice interview as well, I may start checking this site a little more often now. :)

  10. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Thanks very much!

  11. Mr. Anon Says:

    For a moment, I confused Bob Bingham, Unity 08 “CEO” with Bob Brigham (who worked on the Hackett campaign). While Brigham had a few super fledgling projects that never went anywhere, I don’t think he can top the dust cloud that is Unity 08.

    Unity 08: “We’re like Ross Perot, without the money, charm, guts, vision, or piecharts”

  12. Fred C. Says:

    While I absolutely love some of the ideas Unity08 is founded on – especially the open participation (i’m signed up), I’m very skeptical that any prominent names from either party will accept the nomination should it be given to them – and while there’s plenty of room for legitimate independent candidates to pop up in the coming months, the original plan of nominating a bipartisan ticket is probably the only way they can break 3%.

  13. Andy Says:

    “Trent Hill Says:

    September 27th, 2007 at 3:51 pm
    They have NO platform. Only ‘change’ and ‘bipartisanship’.”

    This is one of the reasons that Unity ‘08 sounds like a big sham to me.

    “Well guess what, I hate bipartisanship,because I hate both parties.”

    Me too.

  14. Mark Rivers Says:

    You need to interview Daniel Imperato.

  15. Harvey Jacobson Says:

    Since, almost 100% of Americans know the system is broken and Unity ‘08 is trying to come up with a sensible answer——-those, ignorant of its ideals, would do well to withhold useless, self-serving diatribes.

  16. matt Says:

    What ideals?

    What diatribes?

  17. Austin Cassidy Says:

    Fred, I think people like Bloomberg or Sam Nunn would be well served by a Unity08. There’s also Angus King and Bill Weld, who are both involved with the project and would be fine candidates themselves.

    And there’s other independents floating around the country who’ve been successful to various degrees—- Barbara Merrill? Jesse Ventura? Kinky Friedman? Andrew Halcro? Max Linn?

    It’ll be very interesting to see how this takes shape.

    The reality of what they’re doing is leveling the playing field for a potential independent candidate by handling the ballot access nightmare for them. For that, I think they’re doing a great job and I don’t understand all the negative energy towards them.

  18. Harvey Jacobson Says:

    Hey Matt:

    I see you have volunteered to be one of the ignorant.

    You can do better than that ! Anyone can !

  19. matt Says:

    I can and am doing better than that.

    I’m supporting a candidate with a platform and a history of congressional votes that back it up. I’m up to speed on the thousands of articles he’s written that specifically point to things that government should do differently. That, of course, means that I’m a Ron Paul supporter, but I digress,

    In an attempt to relieve my ‘ignorance’, I went to the unity08 website’s beliefs section, and am still as ignorant about their core beliefs as ever. Uniting America isn’t a belief, it’s a rhetorical technique that usually masks something sinister. Policies are important, and I refuse to buy a pig in a poke on policy. There are specific problems in this country, and they’re a lot bigger than ‘disunity’ and/or ‘partisanship’. Anyone who can’t see them or won’t campaign against them doesn’t deserve attention.

  20. Austin Cassidy Says:

    The Unity08 ticket will be responsible for nailing down their positions on the issues facing the country. The organization itself is just a vehicle for an independent candidate to be able to run a campaign without spending all of their time and money on ballot access.

  21. John Milligan Says:

    I Agree Totally Matt! Unity needs to at some point be able to answer THE Question – “Where’s the Beef!!”

    To that end check out:

    http://www.unity08.com/node/2184#comment

    and a new Unity related wiki at:

    http://www.unity-usa.org

  22. Mickey Hiland Says:

    Isn’t all this debate just complicating what seemed to me to be a simple issue; we choose the candidate we feel is best suited, then we vote? Maybe we can find someone who is trustworthy and willing to accept the nomination. Maybe not. If not, we’ve taken a step forward, and that’s the least that’s required to accomplish aanything. Or did I get the whole Unity08 thing wrong?

  23. matt Says:

    Mickey,
    How we choose will affect who we choose. How informed will we be when we choose, and what criteria will our choice be based upon?

    Unity08 should be setting itself apart by providing more, not less policy information than the parties do.

  24. Walter Smelt Says:

    I am glad to hear that we are still open to any person to run for President. I wonder how many people are members and how many people see Unity08 information each day?

  25. Gary Says:

    I too am dubious. Looks like Ross Perot ‘92 all over again. When I read “billionaire Mark Cuban” described as a “fine potential candidate” THAT is a major red flag. I guess they hope he reads it and throws money at them. Have you followed the Mark Cuban? He was forced to sell his dot com bubble stock at what turned out to be the top of the bubble. The stock he sold for a billion dollars is now worthless but he likes to tell everyone how smart he was to sell when he did. Not. Read history. He’s now famous for his childish antics appearing in your local newspaper most every week.

    The two parties do stand for things people understand. More government or less government. Right now, the more government party seems to be winning as people will always believe in, and want, a free lunch. Then they wake up when the lunch turns out to cost them their job, house and car and the whole mess starts over again. People will never learn. Either that or they have short memories. In 1992, far-left liberals and far-right conservatives both voted for Ross Perot. They both swore “Ross stands for my values!”. I can hear the theme song from “The Music Man” now. Either that or the sound track from an old W.C. Fields movie. “There’s A Sucker Born Every Minute”.

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