It’s rare to see highly positive coverage of Libertarian campaigns, but this exhaustive writeup on Libertarian strategy in St Petersburg, Florida may be one of the most insightful I’ve seen in a while (which isn’t getting wide coverage at the moment, save for the keen eyes over at ).
It was an inspired move, not only getting respectable totals, but deliberately doing so the hard way: intentionally low campaign budgets while submitting candidates via thousands of petitions without a single challenge or rejection by opponents, utterly unheard of in US politics. even more, Libertarian candidates were under strict instructions not to wage negative campaigns, sticking neutrally to the issues. ‘Brilliant’ said Florida Business Insight, while ‘Politics in Florida is changed forever’ said another newspaper. ‘Libertarians basically showed both the other parties and the public that they were able to do things the other parties wouldn’t dare to do, and they knew they could do it whenever they chose‘ said Frank Longo, a member of a local government board who helped lead the effort. ‘It woke a lot of people up, and Libertarians made a lot of friends.’
[…] Meanwhile, the Libertarians startled observers when they declined to run a mayoral candidate [in St Petersburg] despite proposed backing from many in the other parties, saying they’re focusing modestly on community boards and coalitions this round.
“It’s a brilliant strategic move,” said William Sachs, a Democratic activist who recently switched to the Libertarians. “It emphasizes their long term focus while they quietly build up local people in government and keeps encouraging the other parties to work with them. It has to be, because the Republican and Democratic players aren’t exactly stupid here and are interested in what the Libertarians have to say. In the end, the voter benefits.” The Libertarian approach may prove all the more interesting as Libertarian State House candidates have polled over 30% in recent elections.
I could quote much more of the article in length, needless to say. This is the first I’ve heard of the St Petersburg strategy, and I must say it’s impressive. Even though running a mayor if the support was there might have been a good idea, it shows that Libertarians aren’t about gaining and consolidating power just for the sake of the power, instead there’s a distinct urge to educate people about the role of what government should be, and to do that through smaller races that are more winnable. This is an admirable strategy and I look forward to hearing more from this Florida city in coming months as more mainstream coverage finds its way down there.
You can learn more about the Libertarian Party of Pinellas County (or if you’d like, ).