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Russ Verney working as the campaign manager for Bob Barr's 2008 presidential campaign
Russ Verney working as the campaign manager for Bob Barr's 2008 presidential campaign

Russell J. Verney is a political advisor who served as chairman of the Reform Party of the United States from 1995 to 1999. He worked on the presidential campaigns of Ross Perot and Bob Barr.



In the early 1990s, Verney served as the Democratic Party State Treasurer in New Hampshire.[1] By 1992, he was the party's executive director for the state.[2] Later that year, he joined Ross Perot's campaign and worked as the candidate's spokesman and top advisor,[3] helping the candidate win 19% of the popular vote and participation in a three-way presidential debate. After the campaign, he served as a coordinator and spokesman for Perot's organization United We Stand America, which opposed the North American Free Trade Agreement.[4] By 1995, he was the organization's National Executive director.[5] That same year, the group helped form the Reform Party of the United States. Verney labeled this "the most significant thing that's happened in American politics in 130 years."[6]

Verney served as the party's first chairman and as director for Perot's 1996 presidential campaign.[7] Under the party's banner, Perot won 8.4% of the national vote in the 1996 presidential election and in 1998, former wrestler Jesse Ventura was elected Governor of Minnesota.

After Ventura made comments in Playboy Magazine that offended some members of the party, Verney sent a letter to Governor Ventura, asking for his resignation from the party for his comments "about religion, sexual assault, overweight people, drugs, prostitution, women's undergarments and many other subjects [that] do not represent the values, principles or ethics upon which this party was built." In the letter, he admonished Ventura for bringing "shame to yourself and disgrace to the members of the Reform Party." Ventura had no response to the request.[8]

He did not run for re-election in 1999 as the party's chairman, commenting that it was time for someone else to hold the position. To his chagrin, Jack Gargan, a close ally of Jesse Ventura, was elected to the position. He sparred often with Verney, whom Gargan and Ventura felt had operated the party in a dictatorial fashion for too long.[9]


Verney working during a Barr campaign party
Verney working during a Barr campaign party

Hoping to decrease the influence of Ventura, Verney convinced Pat Buchanan to run for the party's presidential nomination in 2000. However, Verney soon became upset with Buchanan's socially conservative positions, explaining that he was attempting to change the party into an "ideologically pure right-wing party."[10] Eventually, the Reform Party split after Verney led a walk-out that protested Pat Buchanan's nomination.[11]

The New York Times ran an article on Verney, discussing how he stayed with one faction of the Reform Party as it continued its decline following Perot's campaigns and the 2000 split. Verney stated that he would eventually leave the party, but that he "would never really leave Ross [Perot]" because, in his words, "I love the man. He's my hero."[12]

Verney served as former Republican Congressman Bob Barr's campaign manager for his presidential run as the nominee of the Libertarian Party in 2008.[13] Barr finished the race in fourth place with 0.4% of the vote.[14]


  1. ^ Recht, Mike (August 16, 1991). "Financial misconduct charged in Democratic party fund-raisers". Sun Journal. Lewiston, Maine: Associated Press. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  2. ^ "Clinton, Tsongas start strong". The Rock Hill Herald. Los Angeles Times. January 12, 1992. Retrieved 5 January 2010.[dead link]
  3. ^ Lehmann, Daniel J. (August 22, 1992). "Perot Gets Illinois Ballot Spot". Chicago Sun-Times.
  4. ^ "Hispanics:Perot misunderstands NAFTA". The Prescott Courier. Associated Press. July 18, 1993. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  5. ^ "Perot leaves open another run for president". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. August 14, 1995. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  7. ^ Bruni, Frank (August 21, 1996). "Perot and Populist Group See Benefits in an Alliance". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  8. ^ Allen, Mike (October 2, 1999). "Leave Party, Reform Chairman Tells Ventura". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  9. ^ Ayres Jr., B. Drummond (December 12, 1999). "Political Briefing; A Battle to Control The Reform Party". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  10. ^ Janofsky, Michael (June 6, 2000). "THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE REFORM PARTY; Perot Is Unlikely to Challenge Buchanan, His Aide Says". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  11. ^ Janofsky, Michael (August 9, 2000). "THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE REFORM PARTY; Buchanan's Bid for the Presidential Nomination Splits the Party Leadership". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  12. ^ Ayres Jr., B. Drummond (April 22, 2001). "Political Briefing; Perot's Battered Army Hangs On, and On". New York Times. Retrieved 5 January 2010.
  13. ^ Mark Ambinder (2008-05-19). "Update From The Barr Campaign". The Atlantic.
  14. ^ "2008 OFFICIAL PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS" (PDF). Federal Elections Commission. 2008-11-04. Retrieved 2009-02-03.

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