Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Libertarians achieve 'major party' status in Michigan

I finished Greens win more offices than Libertarians in Michigan by writing "The Libertarians can take some consolation from achieving "major party" status, a topic I'll save for tomorrow."  The Greens may have elected more candidates to office, but the Libertarians won enough votes to play by the same rules as the Democrats and Republicans, at least in this state.  The Detroit News has the story.
Michigan Libertarians received enough votes to have their candidates listed in the next state primary election in August 2018.

Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson earned Tuesday more than the 154,040-vote threshold necessary for the Libertarian Party of Michigan to participate in the August 2018 statewide primary.

The former Republican governor from New Mexico won 172,711 votes in Michigan, or 3.6 percent of the state’s total vote. That’s the largest percentage of votes captured by a third-party candidate since Ross Perot won 9 percent in 1996.
I thought 2016 would be a good year for minor party candidates.  This is yet another sign that it was.

The good news is that the Libertarians will have more visibility.  The voting public will get to see the party's candidates' names on the August primary ballot and the party will likely be eligible to participate in more debates.

The bad news is that this means the party will have to work much harder, as Michigan Radio reports.
[Michigan Libertarian Party Chairman Bill]Gelineau cautions [it] will be a “challenge” for the party to maintain ‘major party’ status.

“We’re going to have to find a candidate that runs for governor [in 2018] who’s going to be able to express those values and rally people to maintain that level,” says Gelineau.

Along with fielding strong candidates, Gelineau says Libertarians will also have to back ballot questions in keeping with their philosophy of believing in free enterprise and the free market system together with a tolerant social policy. He says that would include legalizing marijuana.
That issue would probably be a winner in this state, as it contributed to some of the good news from last week's election.  The problem won't be the legalization vote; I'm sure that will happen.  Instead, it would be qualifying for the ballot.  Doing so is more difficult now than it was just a few years ago.

Speaking of which, major party status and participation in the primaries means that Libertarians will have to qualify their candidates for Governor and the federal and state legislatures by petition instead of by convention.  Ballotpedia lists the number of signatures required depending on the population of the district.   For State House, that's a minimum of 200 signatures.  One candidate could probably collect those.  It gets tougher for U.S. House, where a minimum of 1,000 valid signatures are required.  That isn't guaranteed even for major party candidates, as Thaddeus McCotter found out the hard way in 2012.  The hurdle rests even higher for U.S. Senate and Governor, both of which will require 15,000 signatures.  That's going to be daunting for a party that is used to nominating people at a convention for all offices.

When Gelineau said that the Libertarian party organization would have to change to accomodate major party status, he wasn't kidding.  The Republicans and Democrats have clubs in most medium-sized or larger municipalities (Royal Oak, Southfield, Farmington Hills, and West Bloomfield each have their own Democratic clubs), and those are where the candidates get a lot of their petitions signed.  I don't know if the Libertarians have that level of local organization.  If they don't, they might need to create it in order to qualify their candidates for the ballot.  That might be interesting to watch.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Libertarians may like vaping, but this isn't a vaping entry, the mention of legalizing marijuana not withstanding. Deleted.