Libertarian Party

Libertarian Party Hopes for Victory in 2 Wyoming State House Races

The Libertarian Party has been pursuing a heavier-than-average ground game in races with just one major-party opponent and a small number of voters needed to win.

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Libertarian Party (L.P.) state House candidate Bethany Baldes of Wyoming came just 53 votes away from winning a seat in 2018, in a race with fewer than 3,300 total votes cast. She was so close she'd been reported as the actual winner, over longtime Republican incumbent David Miller (then the House majority leader), before absentee ballots came in.

That's one reason why Apollo Pazell, an L.P. political operative working the Wyoming races, says in a phone interview today that they began their ground operation in Wyoming this year well before absentee ballots were first cast.

Pazell sees the strong possibility of an actual victory for both Baldes and another state House candidate, Marshall Burt, based on surveying done by their door-knockers who are interacting with voters daily, including hitting all relevant houses at least four times. (Their door-knockers are masked and frequently tested, though Pazell says citizens often tell the canvassers to "take off the stupid mask.")

Burt is facing one Democratic challenger, Stan Blake, in House District 39. Blake has held the office since 2007 and generally runs unopposed.

The L.P. has pursued a more active than usual set of tactics in Wyoming, following a long-term Pazell strategy of targeting elections with a small number of total voters needed to win and only one major-party rival. The state does present unique ground game problems, though: One of the districts the L.P. is vying to win with candidate Lela Konecny has roughly 3,000 voters spread out over a region "the size of Massachusetts," he says. 

"We have six canvassers on the ground traveling the state, and a half-dozen to dozen phone banking volunteers all years long," notes Pazell.

Outside organizations, including Wyoming Gun Owners, have been helping promote Baldes as well, attacking her Republican opponent Ember Oakley for Oakley's concern over immunity provisions for citizens under the state's "stand your ground" law that dissatisfied the hardcore gun rights group.

Pazell today talked up his team's efforts for four L.P. candidates running for the Wyoming House against only one other major-party opponent, which increases their chances of big results or even a win. The fourth is Shawn Johnson in District 38, running against Republican incumbent Tom Walters, who won his last election with only 1,017 total votes. Johnson is also the state L.P.'s chair.

Local press has noticed the Libertarian action as well. The Casper Star-Tribune wondered last week, "Could Libertarians shake up Wyoming elections this year?"

The paper thinks they might:

Johnson said the national party has been taking an unprecedented step to provide resources to the party this year and potentially help establish a third-party presence here.

This year might present the perfect opportunity for that to happen. As Democrats work to capture as many moderates as possible from the state's Republican supermajority, Libertarians seek to tap into the state's already massive wellspring of conservative voters who are potentially fed up with the current disarray of the Wyoming GOP, which has been plagued by infighting and anemic fundraising efforts over the past year.

The Libertarian Party has also sought to avoid debates over hot-button social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage that have long been a lightning rod within the state GOP and exacerbated tensions among the party's ranks.

Baldes has received some endorsements from local Republicans over her opponent. Baldes told the Star-Tribune that "The two parties that are in place right now have been pushing the idea of taxes down our throat to the point where constituents have this idea that there's no way forward without raising taxes….Having Libertarians in office will allow us to keep Republicans honest. They no longer can hide behind a name and talk about non-conservative ideas."

The L.P. candidates are pushing economic issues mostly, Pazell says. "Wyoming is in a very drastic economic situation," he says, between COVID-19 and a collapse in the state's mineral industry. Other politicians, he says, are quick to call on more corporate, sales, and income taxes as a solution, which the Libertarians are not. "We have a detailed plan involving improving [the state's] investment portfolios and cutting costs in a responsible way."

NEXT: How This Summer Changed—and Failed To Change—American Policing

Libertarian Party Wyoming Election 2020

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47 responses to “Libertarian Party Hopes for Victory in 2 Wyoming State House Races

  1. Er well good luck.

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  2. Those darned absentee ballots.

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  3. State house member in Wyoming?

    That’s the equivalent of junior class treasurer, or maybe a spot on the board of a large condominium association in a modern, successful, accomplished community.

    1. Still way better than Bad Rev of the Reason comment section.

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    2. Well you have to start somewhere and local politics is were a lot of the action is.

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    3. Wyoming ranks 20th of the 50 states in per capita income. It’s not some close-minded progressive backwater.

      1. Hey, I’ll have you know that progressive cities have amenities that Wyoming can’t hope to compete with! Like massive homeless populations, feces strewn all over the place, and race riots! How anyone can believe that Wyoming is a superior place to live without those aspects is beyond me!

        1. Yeah its not progressive elites would ever be found in some backwater like Jackson Hole.

          1. The Progressive elites fly in for some skiing or fly fishing. They don’t live there.

    4. If you mean in terms of sticking their noses in business that isn’t theirs? Then yes.

      If you mean that it doesn’t mirror the effectiveness of the governments of San Francisco, Portland, or New York, then also yes, as is evidenced by the complete and utter lack of homeless camps in Casper, human feces on the sidewalks of Douglas, and dearth of black-clad communists attempting to burn down federal buildings in Cheyenne…

      I’ll keep the junior class treasurer, thank you.

  4. Wait a minute Brian…are you sure? Mangu-Ward keeps suggesting here not to vote! Are you suggesting ignore her sophomoric advice? Tell her directly!

    1. They have created a rather odd Catch-22 – only national elections matter, but your one vote doesn’t matter in national elections, so don’t vote – when libertarians more than anyone should understand the importance of state and local government (good and bad), and that our votes can actually matter in those elections.

    1. She looks pretty darn cute in that picture.

      1. I’d let her ring my liberty bell.

      2. She has a better photo in one of the linked articles.

        Also appears to be pretty damned smart.

  5. You know, lots of the journalists I follow suggest to get out and vote. And I’m glad for that. I’ve read lots of comments on these pages for quite awhile…I’m glad Mangu-Ward keeps suggesting to stay home instead. There are many here who I hope follow her advice. In fact, I hope she is true to her own word. Outside of the improvement, we will never know the difference.

  6. Ha, Brian! Here I was ridiculing Mangu-Ward, and I should have cited you!

    This is you in 2004 in an article entitled “.Not Voting and Proud.”

    “If you want to make a difference in the world, please try. But don’t be fooled into thinking voting is a way to do so.”

    Just another phony libertarian who is selective in his outrage, selective in his admonishment on the value in voting.

  7. Good luck with that (really). Maybe the Free State Project should have chosen Wyoming.

    But the better strategy is to run in the primaries of the party that dominates each district. Far fewer people vote in the primaries. Get the major party nomination and coast in when people vote the label.

    1. You should check out the linked article about the high profile (locally) Republicans that endorsed her. They cover that exact topic.

      Sounds like she has a real shot. Her opponent was apparently a squish on a 2A issue. Wyomingites (Wyomingians?) might not be real keen on any perceived lack of backbone when it comes to gun rights.

    2. What ever happened to the Free State Project? Never hear about it.

  8. What’s the purpose of the Libertarian party?

    Is it to promote Libertarianism, or is it to get people elected? If the latter, this is what they should be doing and they should do more to encourage it, especially by pushing the ground game in winnable races instead of focusing on making noise in Presidential races they’ll never win. If the former, they should quit nominating squishes and go hardcore in endorsing the philosophy. The fact that they refuse to commit to either path suggests to me that they’re not even sure what they stand for, but this is a step in the right direction in terms of actually choosing a path.

    1. To effectively promote Libertarianism you need to win elections and starting locally is the best way. As for the philosophy, you can be hard core but practical enough to understand that success breeds success. Focus on the legislation you can win with and leave the idealistic stuff for a time you have proven your success.

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  10. of Wyoming came just 53 votes away from winning a seat in 2018,

    So in Wyoming that would be about 1/3rd of the state.

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  12. Meanwhile, in South Dakota there are only two candidates on the ballot for SD’s only U.S. House seat: a Republican (first term incumbent) and a Libertarian. The Democrats failed to get a candidate on the ballot. And since SD is one of the few states that does not allow write-in votes, anyone wanting to cast a ballot but unhappy with the Republican has only the Libertarian candidate. While I doubt he’ll win, SD does have a higher than average percentage of libertarian voters. Even in 2020 I spotted bumper stickers with the LP Porcupine logo and another dated one with Johnson/Weld. So I think the LP candidate, Randy Laullin, should do well.

  13. This is the way for Libertarians to win, start local and then add more in the house and senate.