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Libertarian Party Leaders Excited About New Respect, More Voter Support

Twitter screenshot of the Biola University campus.

Libertarian National Committee political director Carla Howell told PJM that making voters aware of the Libertarian Party and their opportunity to vote Libertarian are the two biggest problems the party faces, but both should be less of a challenge this year because of the mainstream media’s attention on the Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, appeared in a CNN townhall this week.

“The times are changing. Yet we are still not at the levels of saturation coverage we have seen for Trump and Clinton,” Howell said. “But it is moving in that direction.”

Libertarian candidates will appear on 33 state ballots in November. Howell is hoping to increase that number this summer. Most of the other states’ deadlines are in August.

Times have certainly changed in Oklahoma, where Libertarians have candidates running in the June 28 statewide primary for the first time in 16 years thanks to SB 866, which was approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Mary Fallin on March 31.

Oklahoma SB 866 lowered the bar for political parties to qualify for a slot on the state ballot from receiving 10 percent of votes cast in the previous election cycle to just 2.5 percent.

The South Dakota Libertarian Party earned its way back onto the November 2016 ballot with a petition drive. The South Dakota LP dropped off the ballot in November 2014 for failing to garner more than 2.5 percent of the vote for the Libertarian Party’s candidate for governor.

“This will give the voters of South Dakota a choice beyond the lesser of two evils. With Gary Johnson as the presidential candidate and William Weld as the vice presidential candidate, the voters of South Dakota will be able to vote with a clear conscience,” Ken Santema, South Dakota Libertarian Party treasurer, wrote on the party’s blog.

The South Dakota Libertarian Party is expected to hold a convention in late July to nominate its slate of candidates.

In Oklahoma, the Libertarian Party slate is set. Sixteen candidates are running for state and national offices.

Not only will Libertarians have two candidates running for U.S. Senate in the Oklahoma June 28 primary election, but theirs is also the only contested election.

Republican Sen. James Lankford is running unopposed for the GOP nomination. Mike Workman is the only candidate on the Democrat side of the primary ballot.

As might be expected with the Libertarians, there is a quirk in the party’s Senate primary candidates.

One of the candidates is asking voters to please, vote for the other guy.

Robert Murphy said he, honestly, has better things to do. Voters, Murphy said, would be well advised to vote for his opponent in the Libertarian Party primary, Dax Ewbank.

“I’ve been assigned the task to be a co-chair of the Gary Johnson campaign in Oklahoma,” Murphy told the AP, “and I want Dax to win this primary so I can concentrate on getting Gary Johnson 2.5 percent so we can stay on the ballot in Oklahoma.”

Dr. Shannon Grimes, an Oklahoma State House Libertarian Party candidate, said that Oklahoma Libertarians also expect to see more party candidates filing for state and local elections thanks to the statewide recognition.

“Many people right now are frustrated at the childish behavior of both sides, from the national arena down to the state level,” Grimes said in a statement on his campaign’s website. “I hope that by running for office as a Libertarian, I can show people that we can set aside the party prejudices and work on finding solutions that work for all Oklahomans.”

Carla Howell said for the same reason Grimes cited that there is also more interest nationwide in the Libertarian Party.

“We are seeing an excitement that I have never seen in my 20 years of activism in this party,” Howell added. “We also see record interest from the media, from voters, our members, our registration is growing. It is a truly exciting time for this party.”

Erin Adams is a retired mother of four and U.S. Army veteran who is also running for the state House as a Libertarian.

“I want a revolution, I do, I want to see a world where we all agree that my rights stop where yours start, and vice versa,” Adams wrote on her Facebook page, “where we can understand that it isn’t okay to hurt people or take their stuff.”

One of the Libertarians running for Oklahoma State Senate, Frank Grove, has called for an end to the war on drugs because it only enriches the “entrenched elite.” And he agreed with Adams that it is time for a revolution because of the income disparity in Oklahoma.

“Historically these conditions lead to a revolution. Oklahoma is no different, and her people are rising up,” Grove wrote on his Facebook page.

Steve Long is a Libertarian running for the State House who has told voters not to send him any money unless they want to send him money.

“I am no longer going to actively seek out campaign contributions. You should keep your money. You have better things to do with your money, and I believe that my message is sufficient to convince people that they should vote for me,” Long posted on his Facebook page. “That being said, if you feel compelled to send me money, I will not refuse it, I just won’t be asking for it.

Libertarian Zachary Knight needs money. He has launched a GoFundMe page to raise $5,000 to pay for his U.S. House campaign.

“The more money I raise, the better my chances are,” Knight wrote as part of his pitch to prospective donors.

And Knight sounded like he was speaking for the entire Libertarian Party when he said win or lose, it would be worth the effort.

“Even if I don’t win, I will have…given voters a choice,” he added. “I will have shown the Libertarian Party is a real option for Oklahoma voters and for all the U.S.”