Libertarian Party

Meet the Highest-Polling Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate in the Country

Donald Rainwater, who is polling north of 10 percent, attracts voters who oppose Indiana's heavy-handed coronavirus lockdowns.

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Donald Rainwater, the Libertarian Party's (L.P.) candidate for governor of Indiana, has racked up some unprecedented polling numbers for a Libertarian in a race in which both major parties are running candidates. The 57-year-old Navy veteran and information technology professional hit as high as 24 percent in a Change Research poll back in September.

While that very high result was an outlier, Rainwater has in the past week polled at 14 percent (in a Ragnar Research Partners poll) and 15 percent (in a Cygnal poll). Previous Libertarian candidates for governor in Indiana earned 3.2 percent of the final vote in 2016, and 4 percent in 2012.

The secret to this unusually high polling for the L.P.'s candidate seems to be voter backlash to incumbent Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb's reaction to COVID-19, seen by Rainwater and many voters, according to local media reports, as unduly authoritarian. Rainwater said in a phone interview yesterday that, "during the pandemic year [Holcomb] has been able to declare an emergency and then he has ruled by executive order without bringing the General Assembly into the conversation."

Holcomb's COVID-19 reaction included "threatening mask mandates with criminal penalties, then he backed off that when his own party's attorney general said you can't do that," Rainwater says. He slammed Holcomb for trying to designate Easter church gatherings as nonessential. Rainwater thinks individuals should make their own choices about protecting themselves and others from the risks of COVID-19, without forced government shutdowns of businesses or gatherings.

In general, Rainwater accuses the Republican incumbent of being "really out of touch with how to govern with the consent of the governed," chiding him as well for fee and tax increases. When voters saw that, "they looked around to see if anybody is actually talking about limited government and preserving the Bill of Rights," leading them to Rainwater and the L.P.

"I don't think there's anything special about me," says Rainwater, who got nearly 40 percent of the vote in his 2019 run for mayor of Westfield, Indiana, against a Republican incumbent. "There's something special about the message of limited government and government actually safeguarding individual freedom and rights. In the state of Indiana, I believe the situation that has transpired due to the pandemic has shone a very bright light on what is wrong with big government. There are a lot of people just tired of the status quo and tired of the government picking winners and losers and making decisions about who it's OK to sacrifice in order to project somebody else. That has caused people to start looking for that limited government option."

Rainwater's campaign website issue page is strongly against various taxes, including the personal income tax, residential property tax, and yearly vehicle registration fees, all of which he would like to ax. His first L.P. run, which was for the state Senate in 2016, was inspired by his view that Indiana's Republicans were insufficiently anti-taxation.

Rainwater says Indiana's existing 7 percent sales tax ought to be enough to fund the things a state government needs to do. "We need to focus on better government, which means we need to upgrade and modernize and not just 'modernize' in word but physically do the work of updating processes and systems within state government, many of which are decades old," he says, "and make government more cost-effective, and do that within the context of not eliminating any services that citizens currently expect from state government."

Rainwater also emphasizes that three states surrounding Indiana have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational adult use, and he strongly wants Indiana to join them. In a legal cannabis environment, Rainwater says, "the agricultural, manufacturing, and retail possibilities for Hoosiers are going to be significant, and that will generate additional sales tax revenue."

The organization that runs the state's political debates has long been friendly to third parties, Rainwater says, so it was not unique that he participated on an equal basis with the incumbent and his Democratic challenger Woody Myers in virtual debates twice. An online poll conducted by WEHT Eyewitness News asking who won one of the debates had Rainwater receiving 187 out of 203 votes cast.

Rainwater's high polling helped spur an unusually large amount of fundraising, a majority from out-of-state libertarians wanting to see results worth bragging about. He says he's pulled around $250,000, "and spent near all of it," which allowed him to pay for radio and TV commercials. (Holcomb raised over $10 million.)

Volunteers have crowdsourced funds for billboards. With door-to-door campaigning not as prominent as in a normal year, his people are contacting voters via web messages and phone banking for getting out the vote. Rainwater is thrilled that he can make a video of him saying things once and reach audiences far larger than would ever show up to a physical event, thanks to virtual avenues.

"We are getting support from traditional Republican voters and traditional Democratic voters," Rainwater says, guessing his pull is roughly 70-30 between the two major parties. "People who don't normally look at Libertarians are looking at Libertarians. I get emails and Facebook messages all the time from people who say, 'I voted this way all my life, but now I look at your campaign, and I think I'm more Libertarian than whatever it is I was voting for before.'"

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  1. >north of 10%
    As Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!?”

    1. double digits is better than the usual LP campaign, but it’s a sad commentary on Indiana voters. if they can’t see that the Republican party is the enemy of freedom they need to open their eyes.

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    2. Hey Brian, what the fuck man. In the Arkansas Senate race, Ricky Harrington is polling anywhere from 20% to 38% against the most evil motherfucker in Congress, Tom Cotton.

      1. Let me help you out buddy. In the headline:

        Libertarian Gubernatorial Candidate

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      2. Nah, Chuck Schumer is the most evil fucker in Congress. Ricky Harrington’s numbers are impressive, but it is a Two Man race with no Democratic Candidate in the running.

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      3. But Harrington is dropping in the polls. I don’t know why.

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      4. As “a black” who cares about civil rights, he’s not a real libertarian for the “Reason” crowd.

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  2. Good. I hope he costs Holcomb the election and the next Republican who becomes governor knows better than to use public health law as a way to write the entire Bill of Rights out of existence.

    1. True, but strange that this never seems to happen, or be talked about, when it’s a Democratic Governor that’s turning the screws on people.

      Almost like, in practice, the Libertarian Party plays spoiler for one major party, but not the other. Weird.

      1. “True, but strange that this never seems to happen, or be talked about, when it’s a Democratic Governor that’s turning the screws on people.”

        We expect it from the Democrats. In any case it would be Green Party who would play “spoiler” to the them. But I’m not even sure what that would look like in this context. Democratic Governor not “turning the screws enough” on the people, so Progressives are voting Green? In any other context, “Democratic Governor doing too much”, the Republican candidate, unless he’s establishment/moderate type, would benefit over the Libertarian.

        “Almost like, in practice, the Libertarian Party plays spoiler for one major party, but not the other. Weird.”

        Unless the candidates were “liberals” like Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, for long time now the Libertarians have always been seen as “spoilers” to the Republicans.

      2. You wouldn’t expect a libertarian to get much traction in a blue state.

  3. Called Rainmaker in first paragraph. Rainwater in all others.

    1. A sign his name has already been lost to history. Good riddance.

      1. Sorry got my candidates confused. Holcomb’s the asshole.

  4. And we all know how accurate polling is.

  5. attracts voters who oppose Indiana’s heavy-handed coronavirus lockdowns

    So white supremacists and science-deniers?

    1. accurate. the white trash backbone of the present “libertarian” movement

  6. Change! If not now, then when? After Trump destroys America? Or, should we wait until Biden does?

  7. I will not vote for anyone who has not explicitly promised to do everything they can to make sure this lockdown shit never happens again. If there was ever a single issue to vote on, that’s it.

    1. That’s not a bad take. For years, my single issue has been spending (with some consideration given to 1st and 2nd amendment stances).

      The blatant authoritarianism of the lockdowns and mandates isn’t even the surprising part… it’s how so many people are actually begging for it. Maybe more scary than surprising.

  8. “make government more cost-effective, and do that within the context of not eliminating any services that citizens currently expect from state government.”

    Lots of government “services” ought to be dismantled though. I guess he’s got enough to run against, with the Republican incumbent bypassing the legislature for COVID lockdowns, raising taxes, and opposing marijuana legalization.

  9. I can’t remember what Jesse Ventura was polling at before he pulled off his “miracle” victory in Minnesota back in 1998. I wanna say it was around where Mr. Rainwater is currently polling at now. But we’ll see what happens. A Trump Victory in Indiana could give Holcomb “coat tails” to hang on to based on party loyalty alone. So we’ll see.

  10. So is the guy’s name Rainwater or Rainmaker?

    I miss the days when media standards, low as they were, were at least high enough so that their actually edited their own content.

    1. “so that their [what?] actually edited”

  11. Notice the media whores at unreason are discussing Libertarian candidates now rather than months ago?

    Luckily, Americans are seeing through the media lies and voting for Trump.

  12. I wasn’t planning on voting but maybe I will vote for RaINwater. Mostly because he has IN in his name. How can a Hoosier not vote for someone with IN in his name?

  13. What’s the Democratic nominee been saying about Covid-19 policy?

  14. “Rainwater thinks individuals should make their own choices about protecting themselves and others from the risks of COVID-19, without forced government shutdowns of businesses or gatherings.” Yes, and I should have a choice how much of a precaution I take with other’s lives if I decide to drink and do drugs while driving. IT’S IN THE CONSTITUTION ARRRRIGHT?! More selfish, stupid white trash who are utterly destroying libertarianism over the long haul.

    1. One of these things is not like the other.

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  16. >north of 10%
    As Jim Carrey said in Dumb and Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s a chance!?”

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  17. Indiana’s state sales tax is up to 7 percent? Yeesh. When I lived there it was raised from 4 percent to 5 percent.

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