More than 20 Libertarians elected to office this year
Libertarian candidates for office won several elections on Election Day, adding to the dozens who were elected or appointed to office earlier this year -- and working toward the goal of increasing individual freedom by getting Libertarians elected to public office.
"I think this illustrates that when the Libertarian Party fields quality candidates, competitively funded, the electorate hears and appreciates our message of freedom and responsibility, and rewards us with increasingly higher vote totals -- and in these cases, victory," Libertarian Party Executive Director Joe Seehusen said.
Just a few examples of Libertarians who won on Election Day:
* Libertarian Mary O'Connor was elected to the city council in Brooklyn Center, Minn., coming in second out of four candidates in a non-partisan race where the top two won.
O'Connor garnered 5,024 votes, fewer than opponent Kay Lasman's 5,655 -- but enough to defeat Tom Reynolds, who won 4,207 votes, and Charles F. Nichols Jr., who took 2,851.
* Also in Minnesota, Libertarian Mark Thorsted came in second in a five-way race to become one of two new members on the Otsego City Council. He and co-victor Jessica Stockamp defeated incumbent Jerry Struthers and two other challengers -- Tom Darkenwald and Terri Ruschmeier -- and will serve four-year terms.
* In Florida, longtime Libertarian Jim Culberson was elected in a three-way race to the commission that oversees the Sebastian Inlet Tax District, which includes parts of Brevard and Indian River counties. He garnered 36,129 votes, compared to his opponents' 35,633 and 30,605 votes.
In running for the seat -- a non-partisan race -- Culberson spent approximately $5,700, compared to a war chest of $80,000 directed against him by a local lobbyist, according to Bruce Wechsler, chairman of the Brevard County Libertarian Party.
"The tax district has lost a number of lawsuits recently, costing the taxpayers millions of dollars," Wechsler said, noting that Culberson's election should prove beneficial to both the commission and the area's taxpayers. "Had the district managed its affairs better, the lawsuits could have been avoided or settled at a far lower cost to the taxpayers of Brevard and Indian River counties."
While the Libertarian Party was unable to draw enough votes to affect the outcome of the presidential race -- candidate Michael Badnarik earned approximately 380,000 votes -- the party did affect several state-level races.
* A race for Oregon state representative was apparently decided by Libertarian Tom Cox's involvement. By drawing 9.5 percent of the vote, Cox drew enough support away from the incumbent -- who had reneged on a 2002 campaign promise not to raise taxes -- to cause her defeat.
Incumbent Mary Gallegos, a one-term Republican who voted for a huge tax increase last year, received 42 percent of the vote to be defeated by Democrat Chuck Riley, who drew 48 percent. With a difference of only 6 percentage points between the two, Cox's percentage clearly affected the outcome.
Cox, who ran as a true fiscal conservative, told newspaper reporters following the election that he believes he took votes from Gallegos, causing her downfall after one term in office. Gallegos promised when elected in 2002 that she would not raise taxes.
"This isn't the victory we would have loved," Cox said. "But [Gallegos] was in my crosshairs from Day One, and this is well within the range of success."
* And in Washington State, the race for governor remains undecided but Libertarian candidate Ruth Bennett apparently has taken enough votes from Democrat Christine O. Gregoire to allow Republican Dino Rossi to take the lead. Polls taken before the election hinted that Democrats were more likely to support Bennett than Republicans were.
Election officials said it could take up to a week to count the many thousands of absentee and provisional ballots that will determine the race. According to news reports, after nearly 1.9 million votes had been counted on Nov. 3, Rossi was leading by only 1,064 votes. Before the election, Bennett was polling at about 2 percent -- a deciding factor in the race.
In other races, Libertarian candidates attained sizable vote totals -- showing that there is a market for the Libertarian message -- but did not achieve the desired posts. For example:
* Frank Gonzalez, the Libertarian candidate for U.S. House in Florida's District 21, garnered 54,290 votes -- 27.1 percent of the vote -- in a two-way race, losing to incumbent Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart despite active campaigning in recent months.
* In Wisconsin, Tom Kuester won 14.7 percent in his three-way race for the 50th Assembly District seat against a Democrat and a long-time Republican incumbent who was re-elected.
* R. Scott Bludorn drew 8 percent in a three-way race for the Illinois House of Representatives 53rd District. Incumbent Republican Sidney Mathias drew 59 percent of the vote to win, while Democrat Nicholas Chrisos garnered 33 percent.
* Jerry Cameron, a retired police chief from St. Augustine, Fla., took 5 percent of the vote in his three-way race for the District 20 seat in Florida's House of Representatives.
* Libertarian Rick Fowlkes drew 301,664 votes (25.1 percent) in his two-way race against incumbent Republican Kris Mayes for Arizona Corporation Commissioner.
Before the Nov. 2 elections, hundreds of other Libertarians were already in public office -- both elected and appointed -- across the nation. Many had already been elected earlier this year to various local-level offices, including some who were re-elected.
"Communities have seen Libertarian office holders deliver lower taxes and less restrictive laws as they serve on school boards, city councils and other local-level offices across the nation," Seehusen said.
"At this level, we have a track record that voters can refer to in evaluating Libertarian candidates. As we continue to provide good governance at the local level, our candidates will be able to achieve an ever-higher profile, making them more electable for higher offices." Libertarians who were elected to office before Election Day this year included:
* Tim Cowles, to the Madison (Ala.) City Council.
* Tom Rawles, to the Mesa (Ariz.) City Council.
* Joe Johnson, as Frederick (Colo.) Town Trustee.
* Rex Bell, re-elected to Hagerstown (Ind.) Planning Commission.
* Tamara Millay, elected as Greendale (Mo.) City Marshall.
* Karl H. Timmerman, to the Holden (Mo.) City Council.
*John Taylor, to the Highland (NJ) Boro School Board.
* Bill Woolsey, re-elected to James Island (SC) Town Council.
* Gene Cisewski, re-elected to Iron County (Wis.) Board of Supervisors.
* Will Fantle, elected to Eau Claire County (Wis.) Board of Supervisors.
* Mark Hepfinger, as Cottage Grove (Wis.) Municipal Court Judge.
* Craig Mohn, to the Woodville (Wis.) Village Board.
* Dave Ripp, re-elected to the Dane County (Wis.) Board of Supervisors.
* Kevin Scheunemann, elected to Kewaskum (Wis.) Village Board.
* Alexander W. Young, elected to Rhinelander (Wis.) City Council. Libertarians appointed to various positions this year have included: Ken Anton, to the Elk (Cal.) Community Services District; Scott Baker, to the Elkhart County (Ind.) Convention and Visitors Commission; Brian Golliher, to the Hagerstown (Ind.) Planning Commission; Thomas Knapp, to Missouri's Selective Service State Board; and Barry Ganoe, to the Summit County (Ohio) Planning Commission.