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


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.