Super Tuesday

Libertarian Super Tuesday: Big Night for Jacob Hornberger, NOTA; John McAfee Drops Out and Backs Vermin Supreme

Future of Freedom Foundation founder outpolls the competition in California and North Carolina

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Democrats and Republicans weren't the only voters to experience the pains and pleasures of Super Tuesday—third parties, which in 2016 had their best presidential showing in two decades, were also on the ballot in a handful of states.

Libertarian Party primaries and caucuses are nonbinding, which means that no delegates are awarded based on results. As ever, candidates for the nomination of the country's third-largest party need to persuade a simple majority of the state L.P. delegates who attend the May 21-25 national convention in Austin, Texas. Still, the election results provide a snapshot of what party members are thinking less than three months out.

So far, the trend line is unmistakable—the Libertarian front-runner at this point is longtime libertarian-movement hand and Future of Freedom Foundation founder Jacob Hornberger. After previously winning the Iowa and Minnesota caucuses, and getting the second-most first-place votes in the New Hampshire primary as a write-in, Hornberger was the biggest human vote-getter in two of the three* Super Tuesday primaries that have posted results so far.

In California, with 99.9 percent of precincts reporting, Hornberger led a field of 13 candidates with 17.5 percent of the vote. Tied for second with 11.6 percent were former military officer and Honolulu County Neighborhood Board member Ken Armstrong, and political satirist Vermin Supreme, the latter of whom previously won the New Hampshire primary. Lagging just behind at 11.4 percent was 1996 L.P. vice presidential nominee and academic Jo Jorgensen.

Massachusetts officials don't expect to have an official statewide count until next week. According to unofficial numbers compiled by local Libertarian officials, comprising roughly three-quarters of ballots, "no preference"*** was leading with around 19 percent of the vote, followed by Vermin Supreme with 11.5 percent and Hornberger with 9.4 percent. Write-ins, which have not yet been broken down, amounted to a combined 29.3 percent.**

And in North Carolina, as Elizabeth Nolan Brown reported this morning, Hornberger again paced the biped field with 8.7 percent, though perennial L.P. favorite "None of the Above" (NOTA) stomped with 29.8 percent. (NOTA wasn't on the ballot in California.) Just behind Hornberger with 8.2 percent was antivirus pioneer and international man of mystery John McAfee, who promptly dropped out, threw his support behind Vermin Supreme, and announced his candidacy for vice president:

Not on any of the three Super Tuesday Libertarian ballots were recent entrants Lincoln Chafee (the former U.S. senator and Rhode Island governor, who finished second in the Iowa L.P. caucus and tied for fourth in Minnesota); entrepreneur/ex-convict Mark Whitney (11th and fourth, respectively, in same), and former million-vote-getting Georgia gubernatorial candidate John Monds (15th and fourth).

Meanwhile, the leading fundraiser in the race, activist and veteran Adam Kokesh, finished sixth in California with 7.9 percent, eighth in Massachusetts with 3.5 percent, and ninth in North Carolina with 3.5 percent.

With the Democratic nomination seesawing back into Joe Biden territory, dimming the prospects of a populist/nationalist vs. populist/socialist election, the allure for potential latecomers into the Libertarian race will surely lessen. This could well be the final field in the contest to be the third candidate on the ballot in all 50 states. Much can and will change between now and late May but, for the moment, Jacob Hornberger is your Libertarian front-runner.

* CORRECTION: Originally said "all three."

** CORRECTION: This paragraph originally misattributed unofficial voting numbers from Boston as being totals for the entire state.

*** CORRECTION: Was originally "None of the Above."

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  1. If the LP ever wants to be taken seriously, it must stop with the joke and washed up third tier candidates now. That said, I will be happy to write-in Vernon Supreme in November.

    1. Finding good candidates is easier said than done. Third parties of any stripe all have the same problem; they face a choice of ideological purity and its accompanying irrelevance or broader appeal at the price of losing their identity.

      1. That isn’t really the core problem of third parties. That is merely the consequence of a duopoly meta-controlling elections. They set the meta-rules to favor themselves – and then surprise surprise elections favor them. Since third parties don’t have a chance – long before any primary or election itself, they instead turn to irrelevancies and purity stuff.

        1. We have a winner take all democratic Republic. We don’t have a parliamentary system. In our system one person is elected from each geographic area and that is it. Finishing second or a strong third means nothing. Such a system is always going to have two parties. You only have multiple parties in Parliamentary systems where finishing second or third still gets you seats in the Parliament.

          I will take our system over a parliamentary one any day. But, one of the prices of that is you are limited to two major parties.

          1. That isn’t the goddamn freaking problem AT ALL. That is yet another diversion from the problem. There are a ton of countries who have separate exec/leg or who have FPTP/constituency legislature.

            Our problem is UNIQUE and in large part because our Constitution is so old. We are the only country with a written constitution that doesn’t explicitly include political rights of the people as to how they will be represented at or make their own voice at the federal level or how those elections will take place etc. It simply abdicates all that by failing to mention it. Which is what left political parties (unmentioned) to fill that CONSTITUTIONAL vacuum. And turns out – factions/parties are only interested in implementing what benefits them – and the only thing the duopoly agrees on is that everyone other than those two should be excluded. And since you ain’t got no rights to representation at the federal level, you also don’t have any standing to pursue the violation of same in a federal court.

            1. We are the only country with a written constitution that doesn’t explicitly include political rights of the people as to how they will be represented at or make their own voice at the federal level or how those elections will take place etc.

              To the extent that that is true, it is because we are a union of sovereign states and the Constitution was never set up to give people direct representation except through the House of Representatives.

              Second of all, a two party system is not unique. The UK has been effectively a two party system for centuries. The parties change occasionally but they do in the US as well. It still comes down to two parties. The only nations that have anything close to what you are advocating are places like Italy and Greece that Parliamentary system with proportional representation. And the result of that is generally chaos and niche parties having enormously outsized influence relative to their size.

              Basically you are making the case for our Constitution. It was written by the greatest political generation since Ancient Rome. It was written by people who understood history and were just a bit over a century removed from the tyranny of the mob under Cromwell. It was written more than anything to prevent that. And for 245 years it has done just that. Only a fool with no understanding of human nature or history would want a rule by mob system you propose.

              1. we are a union of sovereign states

                No we are not. The Treaty of Paris that secured our independence was negotiated between the King of England (who owned all the royal charters of the colonies and was thus ‘sovereign’) and the United States of America. Yes the US was initially a Confederation and we still have a legal fiction of ‘dual sovereignty’. It no longer is – but eg Switzerland (with 12 parties in their legislature) still is. All states subsequent to those 13 are completely and legally equal to the original 13 – but only Texas was ever sovereign.

                Second of all, a two party system is not unique.

                No it isn’t. But Nigeria is the only other country bigger than an island that has an actual two-party system. The reason they have that is because their military starts planning coups when more than two parties exist. And has spent most of its independence under military rule.

                The UK has been effectively a two party system for centuries.

                No it hasn’t. They have 11 political parties elected to their Commons. And their ballot access rules are NOT controlled by the two parties. It takes a $500 deposit (refundable if one gets a certain % of the vote) and 10-50 signatures of voters to get on the ballot in any district. So for example in 2019 – in Boris Johnson’s seat – there were five ‘major’ party candidates and seven ‘independent’/silly candidates. Including the Monster Raving Loony Party, Count Binface (a comedian’s character), and Yace ‘Interplanetary Time Lord’ Yogenstein.

                Basically you are making the case for our Constitution…founder fetish…hero worship…etc

                If that’s the case, then YOU are making the case that the Constitution should be completely subordinated to the interest of political parties which aren’t even mentioned in the Constitution – and which in fact requires a ‘living Constitution’ interpretation of what it is. Why do you hate the founders you worship so much? Why do you hate America? USA USA USA!!!

                1. You used the UK as an example. The differences really could not be more stark.

                  In 2019, Boris Johnson ran against 12 total candidates including a bunch who simply wanted to exert their right to speak and petition government in a meaningful way. He won 52% of the vote – 25,400 votes in a district with 70,000 registered voters. The ballot access rules – 10 signatures and L500 fee (refundable with 5% of vote) – same everywhere in UK

                  In 2018, Nancy Pelosi ran against 1 other candidate (R). In a city where performance art is quite visibly a hobby of many – and where everyone seems to have very different grievances, none could have remotely made the ballot. She won 87% of the vote – 275,000 votes in a district of 500,000+ registered voters. The ballot access rules in CA – $1700 filing fee (non-refundable) and 2000 signatures.

                  Ballot access for US Rep in TX – $3125 filing fee
                  Ballot access for US Rep in OH – $85 filing fee + 50 signatures (if filing as part of a ‘recognized’ party) or + 7000 signatures (if filing as independent or non-recognized party)
                  Ballot access for US Rep in FL – $7,000 + 5,000 to 6,000 signatures depending on district

                  Running for office is in fact the ultimate means of ‘petition government for a redress of grievances’. But because the Constitution simply abdicated election rules – for the FEDERAL level – to the states, infringement of that right via election restrictions is not possible to challenge in court.

                  1. It is hard to run for office in this country. But the constitution did not create that problem. Campaign finance laws did.

                    1. Jeez Cmon John. You are incapable of seeing anything that doesn’t confirm some current domestic political BS

            2. There were no political parties when the Constitution was written & first put into practice. George Washington in his Farewell address , after his 2nd term mentioned how bad they would be the nation & all the bad consequences that would flow from them & he has been 100% correct!
              Also, the Founders never envisioned a gargantuan bloated corrupt inept unmanageable centralized Fed Govt. tyrannically ruling over the states, alongside an entity like the Fed Reserve!…There whole vision has been obliterated!

        2. I am torn between Hornberger and Supreme. Both great choices for entirely different reasons. If you listen to Vermin talk out of character, they guy is actually pretty sharp.

          1. Oh Vermin is the truth and can stand toe to toe with any politician rhetorically. He’s not a savant but he knows his stuff extremely well and is genuine, which catches people off guard. I really hope to see him on a big stage at some point to prove all the haters wrong.

            Personally, I can’t stand Hornberger so hope you lean the other way, but its up to you – no hate!

          2. I am starting to warm up to this Vernon guy.

    2. Maybe. At the same time, candidates that can attract a base number of votes preserves ballot access for the others. And let’s be honest–this country’s culture is far from electing a libertarian president.

  2. “Libertarian Party primaries and caucuses are nonbinding, which means…”

    that they are just an opportunity for performance art and imaginary role playing (like all LP events).

    I kid. Glad to see Hornberger doing well.

    ‘preciate the update, Matt.

  3. Vermin Supreme! Ponies and gum health for the 21st Century!

  4. John McAfee Drops Out and Backs Vermin Supreme

    Most LP headline ever.

    1. It also makes it completely impossible for me to recommend the LP to any serious person I know.

  5. With Jacob Hornberger as the front-runner, maybe the National LP will nominate an actual libertarian for president this time around. We can only hope.

    1. If you are not going to win, and the LP isn’t, why compromise? You compromise because you think doing so will give you a chance to win. If it doesn’t, then you are better off being ideologically pure as possible At least then you stand for something and the votes you win might force one of the two major parties to move in your direction to win them back. If you become the party of Republicans who hate Trump and like pot, you are never going to accomplish anything.

      1. As I mentioned above, you might compromise to get the number of votes to maintain ballot access for down-ballot races that the LP has a slightly higher chance of winning.

        1. That is a fair point. That really brings up a larger question of why does the LP need a Presidential candidate in the first place? What does it accomplish? Instead of spending their resources on symbolic Presidential runs by has been politicians, I think the LP would be better off spending its resources on local races that it might have a chance of winning.

          Consider the examples of the Christian Right and the whackjob left. Both of them never formed their own parties. Instead, they infiltrated one of the major parties by concentrating on winning local elections and dominating the activist class of the party. In the process both ended up having a lot of sway over a major party and accomplishing more for their causes than Libertarians have ever dreamed for their cause.

          1. I agree with you. I don’t personally think that the LP needs to run a high-profile presidential campaign–local races would be a far more effective use of party resources. There was a guy running for LP chair (Hagopian) whose platform was along these lines, but he unfortunately dropped out.

            I also agree with your latter point. I am a registered Libertarian, but I’m also a small-l libertarian and more than happy to support whomever is defending liberty. The party is just a means to an end.

            1. The irony of it is that most of the real battles over liberty happen at the local level. Even if the LP somehow won the Presidency, the President doesn’t control local zoning laws, the majority of the criminal justice system or more than about a third of the infringements on liberty in this country. The large majority of infringements on liberty are the result of state and local governments. That is where the action is. Other minority movements like the socialist left and the Christian right have figured that out. Libertarians never have for some reason.

            2. I’ve been saying this for years. Get so,e city council spots. Maybe some seats in the state assembly. Or even a US House seat if the right opportunity presents itself. Then build on that

              Not vermin Supreme running with a guy who was on the run for murder in recent years.

            3. The reason to run high profile elections is messaging. Few people care who gets elected dog catcher. Most local politics is non partisan anyway. Do we fix Rt. 8 or build a dog park?

              If that is all you are doing why have a political party at all? You can get to city council without one.

              If the LP can at least get on the ballot and even a place on the debates, get some ads out there you can get your message out.

              Infiltrating the Republicans has been a miserable failure. They just treat you like dirt at this point if you don’t support everything they tell you to we know what that means. Pelosi will chop your head off if you are a rouge democrat.

          2. John wrote “[W]hy does the LP need a Presidential candidate in the first place? What does it accomplish?”

            It certainly makes sense to focus most of our effort locally. In point of fact, most of the effects government has on our day-to-day lives—education, recreation, transportation, business regulations and licensing, zoning, emergency services—are a function of decisions made by local governments. Every few years the Federal government gets us into a new war or “reforms” a significant sector of the economy such as health care and that matters. But mostly it’s just posturing for the next election.

            Not to mention, the average citizen is much more likely to be able to influence local government than the Federal or state government. You probably know some of the folks in local government, or at least know folks who know them.

            And, as has been mentioned earlier in this thread, it’s much more conceivable we can be competitive in a local election than in a statewide or national election.

            Having said all that, I do think running a candidate for President every four years is worthwhile. Most Americans don’t pay much attention to politics aside from the Presidential race (despite the fact that that is irrational), so if we want to reach those folks, we really have no choice but to run a candidate. So it is important as a recruiting/proselytizing tool. And in North Carolina at least, it is important for ballot access: to qualify to stay on the ballot, our candidate needs to garner at least 2% of the vote in either the gubernatorial or presidential race.

            I personally try to hew to the 10-30-60 rule in allocating both my contribution dollars and my volunteer time: 10% to the national LP/Federal candidates, 30% to the LPNC/statewide state government candidates, and 60% to my county affiliate party, WakeLP/local candidates.

            Brad Hessel
            Treasurer, WakeLP

          3. The LP must field a Presidential candidate on all 50 + ballots in order to maintain political credibility. That said, its unlikely that the LP will even match Johnson’s numbers regardless of who the candidate ends up being. The job of the presidential ticket this year will be to help focus attention on the down ballot races. A presidential candidate coming to town is news. Joe Blow announcing he is running for city council much less so unless the presidential candidate brings him up on stage and introduces him. Thus the job also entails helping the local LP to grow.

        2. And yet maintaining ballot access and other procedural stuff is seemingly almost irrelevant to the LP itself. Item 3.6 on their platform – and only a part of it at that – just before the last 3.7 (invoking the right to revolution). It’s almost like – the LP really doesn’t give a shit about representative government.

  6. No Preference (NC primary) is not the same as NOTA. NP does not mean the position goes unfilled (as is the case with NOTA) The establishment parties use the primary to allocate convention delegates proportionally. No Preference means Uncommitted.

    1. Thanks. I was going ask wtf is the point of voting NOTA in a primary? I could see it in a general election as a protest vote but it doesn’t make sense in a primary.

  7. If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.

  8. When someone in your party puts their support behind Vermin[look I have a boot on my head] Supreme, your party is a joke

    Kinda like when your party supports trump

    1. why do you hate ponies?

      1. poop

      2. Hahaha love that one Old Guy

    2. Well, then shouldn’t the boot (bucket) be on your head?

    3. The LP’s previous presidential candidate was a successful businesman and two-term governor, running against a con man and a former president’s wife.

  9. In 2004, the candidate who won all of the Libertarian primaries and straw polls did not win the nomination. The delegates will decide at the convention and primaries and straw polls won’t determine the outcome.

  10. Great, another 70 something white guy in the race for president.
    We’ve come a long way baby!

  11. Thanks for an article covering this. If more media would cover libertarians as legitimate despite the wacky parts of the party, people would view us as more viable. Thanks for taking another step on that long road to liberty Mr. Welch.

    1. Some wackiness and showmanship is how you get media coverage. Look at Donald Trump he is a master of the art all of his life.

  12. The President of the United states is one of the most powerful offices in one of the most powerful countries.

    No one who seeks power is worthy of it. This is why all traditional political candidates are shit.

    True Libertarians are loath to seek power. So few of the Libertarian Party’s candidates are actual Libertarians.

    Therefore, I offer this plan for the Libertarian Party to use to select a Presidential candidate for 2024.

    1. Every LP local will meet and the name of every member in good standing will be thrown in to a hat or other container. One name will be drawn at random. The selected name will be sent to the state level LP organization.

    2. The officials of each state’s state LP will gather all the names sent by each local and put them in a hat or other container. One name will be drawn at random. The selected name will be sent to the LP national organization.

    3. At the time of the LP convention, the national LP officials will put the 50 names in a hat or other container and one name will be drawn at random. That person is the party’s Presidential candidate whether they like it or not.

    Our condolences to John Smith, the Libertarian Presidential candidate for 2024.

  13. In case no one mentioned: the North Carolina ballot did not offer NOTA. The choice other than people was “no preference”. That does not mean that the voters objected to any of the candidates, but rather did not have a favorite.

  14. The LP has never been other than an embarrassment to libertarianism. The movement has effectively been moribund for years as the great intellectuals died off.

  15. Wait, Massachusetts takes a week to count a couple of hundred Libertarian votes?

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  17. As Brian Irving points out, ‘no preference’ is not at all the same thing as ‘NOTA’. If your mate asks if you’d like chicken or fish for dinner and you reply ‘I have no preference’, it means that either is acceptable, not that neither is acceptable.

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