Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party Making Gains at the State and Local Level

Expanding membership, increasing the number of candidates, forcing runoffs, and even winning sometimes

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This man, Keith Ottersberg, is a Libertarian who holds elected office in Wymore, Nebraska. ||| Keith Ottersberg
Keith Ottersberg

One of the quadrennial complaints about the Libertarian Party is that all this focus on the (eventually futile) bid for the White House distracts from what should be gains on the state and local level. In fact, there are some interesting L.P. things afoot far afield from Gary Johnson's battle to get 5 percent. They include, but are not limited to:

* In Georgia, two-term Republican incumbent Sen. Johnny Isakson, while comfortable ahead at the polls, might be forced into a runoff, thanks to three-time Libertarian candidate Allen Buckley, who was recently polled at 11 percent.

* Further west, "the number of registered Libertarians in Colorado grew over 26 percent since January. Republicans added about 4 percent, Democrats about 7 percent." According to state party chair Jay North, "we have about thirty people running this year out of fifty [local] races."

* In the state of Washington, where you might think environmentalists would have the upper hand, the Libertarian Party is beating the Green Party like a gong.

* And as the Associated Press recently noted, the "Libertarian Party sees surge of new voters in Nebraska." From that article:

Although it's still dwarfed by the Republican and Democratic parties, the Libertarian Party has seen a 28 percent increase in voter registrations since the state's May primary. The number of registered Libertarians is on pace to top 10,000 before the Nov. 8 election, and a state senator who recently joined the party is using her experience as a former GOP political activist to teach its members how to campaign.

"It has a different feel from the third-party campaigns of the past," said Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, who switched her affiliation from Republican to Libertarian in May. […]

Party activists are focusing more on local government races and setting up new county chapters to recruit candidates. Libertarian Ben Backus, who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2014, is expected to win a seat on Gering's City Council after his primary opponent withdrew from the race. The party is also fielding candidates for the Scotts Bluff and Washington county commissions.

Nick Gillespie interviewed national party chair Nicholas Sarwark a few days back.

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33 responses to “Libertarian Party Making Gains at the State and Local Level

  1. Well he certainly looks like a libertarian. His face screams “I don’t care if children starve in the streets”.

    1. What Huey Lewis Looks Like Now Is Jaw-Dropping!

      1. *stands to begin thunderous ovation*

        1. He wants a new drug.

    2. Nahh. It says “Can’t you tell that I favor drug legalization?”

  2. I am hoping for big things in KY going forward. If Johnson gets 2%, the LP gets ballot access for the next 4 years without petitioning. A large chunk of state house and senate races are unopposed. I am hoping the LP ends that in 2018 and 2020. Run a candidate in those races (and all the others).

    The LP picking up 1 or 2 seats in the state house could have a big effect, as its getting close to flipping D to R control.

    1. Yeah, automatic ballot access (and automatic straight ticket voting option) really helps the LP get on the smaller race ballots hear in Texas. We actually need over 5% in a state wide race. Fortunately we have a bunch of those and the Dems haven’t won one in ages so there are many that they do not run a candidate (especially judicial elections). This allows a couple of L candidates to get over that hump every election. The Greens have gotten ballot access this way too. Once you get your foot in the door it is easy to throw up candidates as broadly as possible to ensure that it is rolled over until the next one.

      1. But LP’s done that in Texas at times previously. So you get candidates on the ballot much easier. What’s the difference if they don’t get elected? (Actually they have gotten a few, because Texas far exceeds most states in number of offices which are contested via partisan election.)

    2. as its getting close to flipping D to R control

      Do KY R’s actually have an interest in shrinking government and restoring freedom, or is that just something they say like they do everywhere else?

  3. NC’s most recent gubernatorial debate (I think the 2nd of 2) included the Libertarian Candidate. He performed horribly and has minimal support in the polls, so I’m guessing all the attention to 3rd parties at the national level contributed to the decision to include him.

    1. The LP does seem to have a shortage of good candidates, and their opponents are only to happy to give negative publicity to the kookier ones. Why, if I were a more suspicious person I’d think there was some sort of effort on the part of the major parties… Nah, that would never happen.

      Now, where is Derp-o-Matic and my roll of tinfoil?

  4. This is ludicrous. It’s time to abandon the Libertarian Party from the top all the way down ticket and focus on the Free State Project. Or maybe seasteading. I hear Somalia is has vast, windswept beaches. Frankly, Americans don’t want to be left alone, and they certainly don’t want to leave each other alone. The whole thing is a lost cause. Pack it in.

    1. * slow clap *

  5. “Hey Peter man, check out channel nine – it’s the breast exam!”

    1. +1 Watch your corn hole.

  6. Libertarian Mark Miller has been endorsed by all the major newspapers in Texas for Texas Railroad Commissioner, which is in charge of (are you ready for this?) oil and gas development in the state. So that’s a pretty, pretty big deal. However, I still fear people will be pulling the Party Ticket switch, without even glancing at the candidates, and some semi-competent, Republican busybody/bureaucrat will get elected. That switch needs to go away.

    1. Agreed. Anyone who is actually paying attention to that race quickly sees that he is leaps and bounds the most qualified candidate. But the slimy, corrupt Republican is going to win simply by dint of the straight ticket option being available. He’s not even semi-competent. He represents the worst of how politicians abuse their positions for personal advantage.

        1. smdh:

          He denied that it was improper to add the amendment to a bill so close to the end of the session. “This is not an unethical, deceptive method of doing anything,” Christian said. “This is the way it’s been ever since government was invented.”

    2. pulling the Party Ticket switch

      That is actually a thing in Texas? If you’re not smart enough to remember who you want to vote for, or can’t follow the “voting guides” that poll workers hand out, then you don’t deserve to vote.

      1. Not only that, but offices that would’ve been non-partisan (or even not popularly elected) in other states are partisan there. Yet you think the Texas LP would like those to be non-partisan? Nah, because then their party name wouldn’t be on all those ballots, serving whatever promotional purpose the party name has.

  7. The Libertarian Party logo and the Buffalo Wild Wing logos are very similar.

  8. Thomas C. Theiner
    @noclador

    Most important ship in #Russia’s flotilla crossing the channel now:

    Attached is a picture of the Russian salvage tug Nikolay Chiker. Had a laugh.

  9. This man, Keith Ottersberg, is a Libertarian who holds elected office in Wymore, Nebraska

    I believe that alt-text should have read, I had to get it on man, he was making a move

    1. Wayne Grow lives.

  10. So is this the Libertarian Moment(tm)?

    1. Yes, libertarian momentum. It is like walking the wrong way on an escalator.

  11. There are some people who use Ross Perot as an example of why you should not vote for Johnson. (In the end, the candidate will just be a spoiler, and nothing will come of it). But Johnson is part of a political party that will be around next election, and votes now could benefit the party going forward. So I am feeling better and better voting third party.

    1. Exactly.

      In Indiana, you have L candidates for governor and lt. governor, senate, and — in at least one district — congress.

      Nobody at the state legislature level (yet).

      I will be pleasantly surprised if any of them actually win, but it’s gratifying to actually see “libertarian” appearing more than once on ballots.

      At some point, you know people get curious and start Googling what that means. I’d like to think that enough people are motivated by logic and reason that the increased interest will be a good thing. But I may be overly optimistic.

    2. Actually, the perception of the spoiler effect is a good thing; it should be utilized as a weapon in order to scare the dominant parties into adopting some of the positions of the third parties. Being a “spoiler” is not a bad thing like some people think it to be, but they are shortsighted and only care what happens within the next few years.

  12. One of the quadrennial constant complaints about the Libertarian Party is that all this focus on the (eventually futile) bid for the White House distracts from what should be gains on the state and local level.

    FTFY. But given the ballot-access requirements the best strategy is a two-prong approach: doomed presidential bids to raise awareness and maintain automatic ballot access, and serious bids for potentially winnable state and local offices.

    I think Johnson deserves more respect for devoting a year or so of his life to this effort.

    Also underexamined is what a libertarian elected official could accomplish at the state or local level. The usual MO of statist legislators is to trade favors – you pass my bill, I’ll pass yours. But as anti-statists, libertarians will find few allies. Look at Ron Paul who was famously nicknamed “Dr. No” because he wouldn’t support anything which expanded the size of scope of government.

  13. “According to state party chair Jay North, “we have about thirty people running this year out of fifty [local] races.””

    Gee, Mr. Wilson, that sounds menacing.

  14. But these things were true 30 yrs. ago too. All this says is that LP can from time to time hit the same highs. It doesn’t lead to anything.

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