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Colorado Libertarian Party Was Only Non-Major Party to Run Nominees for a Majority of Legislative Seats

Published on January 13, 2013, by in General.

In the November 2012 election, the Colorado Libertarian Party was the only party, other than the Democratic and Republican Parties, to place its own member-nominees for the legislature on the ballot in a majority of contests. Colorado had twenty State Senate seats up and Libertarians were on the ballot in twelve of them. Colorado had all 65 State House seats up, and Libertarians were on the ballot in 39 of them.

Whenever a party, other than the two major parties, runs this many candidates for a state legislature, invariably that action pays off with unforeseen opportunity. In the case of the Colorado Libertarian Party, the 54th House district race took a surprising turn after the major party primaries were determined. The only candidates in that race were Libertarian Tim Menger and Republican Jared Wright. Several major ethical lapses on Wright’s part were revealed, and the leading newspaper in the district, the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel, endorsed the Libertarian nominee. Press coverage of the campaign suggested that he had a chance to win. Although he didn’t win (he polled 40.96%), his high visibility earned points for the Libertarian Party in the area. See the Daily Sentinel’s endorsement of Menger here. See this Daily Sentinel story, published on election night when it became apparent that Wright had won.

In the 2012 election, the Conservative, Working Families, and Independence Parties of New York had nominees for the New York state legislature in over half the districts, but the overwhelming majority of the nominees were not members of those parties, but were cross-endorsed major party nominees. Also the Connecticut Working Families Party cross-endorsed in over half the Connecticut State Senate races as well, but again this was a case of cross-endorsing major party nominees.

5 Responses

  1. Deemer from California

    Richard:

    In the past 50 years or so how often has a non-major party run candidates in at least 25% of the seats in a legislative chamber anywhere in the U.S. ? That is, of course, not counting cross-endorsements of major party candidates but including Major party endorsements of THEIR candidate.

  2. johnO

    Colorado’s Constitution Party had major party status with Tancredo’s Gov. run. Looks like going backwards if Libertarian Party can run “more” nominees. I’m glad Mr. Menger did well in his race. With Mr. Wright’s “lapses” maybe Mr. Menger will run again in two years.

  3. Richard Winger

    #1, in 1970 in Alabama the National Democratic Party (which was separate from the Democratic Party); in 1992 in Alaska the Alaskan Independence Party; in 1978 in Arizona Libertarians; in 1970 in California, AIP; in Colorado in 2000, Libertarian; in 1970 in Delaware, American; in 2002 in Florida, Libertarian; in 2002 in Idaho, Libertarian; in 1946 in Indiana, Prohibition; in 1948 in Michigan, Prohibition; in Nevada in 1980, Libertarian; in New Jersey in 1997, Conservative; in 2002 in North Carolina, Libertarian; in 2000 in Ohio, Libertarian; in 2004 in Oregon, Libertarian; in 1968 in Pennsylvania, Constitutional; in several years in Texas, Libertarian; in 1986 in Utah, Libertarian; in 1948 in Washington, Progressive; in 1972 in Wisconsin, American. This isn’t a complete list. But if a state is not mentioned in that list, then there are no examples for the unnamed states.

  4. Andy

    Just think, if this Libertarian Party candidate for the state legislature in Colorado actually had some money to spend, they could have been elected.

    The Libertarian Party really needs to put more of a focus on electing people to seats in state legislatures.

  5. Arthur C. Barker

    Andy, why so? The Libertarian Party has in the past had representatives in the Alaska, New Hampshire and Vermont legislatures. Did any of those produce any kind of breakthrough at either the state or national level? At the moment, the most impressive result from the last election is Gary Johnson and Jim Gray’s popular vote total setting a new LP record. It will be interesting to see if Johnson (and possibly Gray) run again in 2016 and what the result will be if they do. Will it finally best the 1980 Clark/Koch percentage number or will they replicate Harry Browne’s disappointing second run in 2000?

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