By BOB PALMER
Mt. Pleasant Tribune
Despite what former UCLA Coach Henry Russell Sanders once said, winning isn’t the only thing to the Libertarian nominee for Texas’ 4th Congressional District, Louis (Lou) Antonelli, who knows he has an uphill battle as a third party candidate.
Antonelli, 63, has a long history in public service as well as community journalism. A life-long conservative, he says the most interesting thing that ever happened him is that he reportedly once made a future president of the United States cry.
Antonelli says he does not remember seeing Barack Obama shed tears while they were both students at Columbia University in New York City, but an alumni blog salutes Antonelli and another conservative student colleague for causing moisture to come to Obama’s eyes in frustration.
The pair staged an anti-Soviet protest at Columbia University in New York following the shooting down of a Korean Air Lines Flight 007 from Anchorage to Seoul by a Soviet interceptor.
A bystander to the student protest later reported “Lou Antonelli and Jon Crane get more students to protest Soviet downing of KAL 007 than ever supported South Africa divestiture. Obama left campus for the last time in tears.”
Antonelli and Obama’s time at the university overlapped slightly and they interacted at least one more time when Obama and fellow liberals accosted Antonelli and some friends after a Student Republican club meeting.
Ronald Reagan was President in 1983 and Antonelli says President Reagan had the strongest influence on shaping his political philosophy.
“Reagan had a strong Libertarian streak in him,” said Antonelli. “He often spoke about the need to cut back big government.”
Antonelli sees Reagan as influencing his position as a pro-life Libertarian.
“Ronald Reagan said we don't actually know when life begins exactly, but if you don't know, err on the side of ‘don't do any harm,’” Antonelli explained.
The Libertarian candidate for the 4th District seat made vacant when President Donald Trump appointed incumbent John Ratcliffe to be Director of National Intelligence does endorse an end to capital punishment and making marijuana legal.
“I think any drug that's a natural product that grows like marijuana and mushrooms shouldn't be illegal,” Antonelli said. “Now if you have to make something like meth, you have to cook, that's another thing.”
Antonelli noted how capital punishment is the only punishment that cannot be reversed. Antonelli pointed out how prisoners are often released after decades in custody when new evidence exonerates them. That is not possible if the prisoner has been executed.
“Kinky Friedman said, ‘How can Christians support capital punishment when the founder of their religion was executed as a political criminal?’” Antonelli cited.
As a business owner, Antonelli definitely supports lower taxes and smaller government, both Libertarian touchstones.
Born on Jan. 6, 1957 in Medford, Massachusetts, Antonelli is the son of Sergio and Anna Savini Antonelli who immigrated to the United States from Italy after World War II.
Antonelli credits the Boy Scouts of America for having a strong positive influence on his early life. He embraced the Scout Oath and Law and quickly found a role as Troop Scribe, reporting Scout events to the local newspaper. His first story was published when he was 12. He later worked for his local newspaper all throughout high school.
Although Massachusetts has a liberal reputation, Antonelli said Italians found themselves more welcome in the Republican Party than with the local Democratic Party which was run by Irish descendants.
“There are plenty of conservatives in Massachusetts,” Antonelli said.
At Columbia University, Antonelli quickly immersed himself in student politics winning a seat on the student council as well as joining the Young Republicans.
After college, he volunteered to run as a Republican for a heavily Democratic Congressional seat in Upper West Side Manhattan in 1982 when he was 25
“It used to be what you'd call a Standard Bearer,” Antonelli said. The Republican Party Chairman in Manhattan was actually a really nice guy. His name was Roy Goodman. I went to his office one time and said do you have anybody to run for the office? He said no, you want to do it? I said sure, so I did. It was an interesting experience.”
Antonelli believes his political activities influenced others.
“I think actually the thing that had the most positive influence on the most people goes back to when I was in college,” Antonelli said. “I showed college students at a very liberal university, you could be conservative and be a rice guy, too.”
Antonelli packed up and moved to Texas when he was 28. He’s worked for a number of community newspapers since then, and while in Cedar Hill he met and married Patricia Randolph, a Dallas native, in 1999.
He went to work in Clarksville in 2015 and the Antonellis bought The Clarksville Times from its owner in 2018. The started a second newspaper in Mount Pleasant at the start of this year.
In addition to publishing two newspapers, Antonelli is also a prolific science fiction writer, having 125 short stories published in 15 years. He is a two-time Hugo award nominee, and in 2017 he was a finalist for the Dragon Award for his alternate history novel “Another Girl, Another Planet”.
Antonelli has been a much sought after panel participant and speaker at conventions for science fiction writers across the country, although that’s been severely curtailed this year because of the COVID pandemic. His last convebtiom was in Atlanta in February before the quarantines began.
Some might consider Antonelli’s Quixotic quest as the Libertarian candidate for Congress in the strongly Republican 4th District of Texas his greatest piece of living science fiction.
Antonelli would disagree that someone should run for office only when convinced victory is in the bag.
“If you've ever thought about service in elective office, do it,” Antonelli urged. “Get it out of your system. You might win and if you don't, you'll see what it's like. I think you'll have a lot more sympathy with elected officials if you serve as one yourself in some capacity.”
Antonelli served as an elected trustee of the Cedar ISD from 1992 to 1995. He is currently a member of the Clarksville Planning and Zoning Commission, and President of the Clarksville Lions Club.
The Antonellis, who have no children, are members of First Baptist Church in Clarksville.