Most Organized Libertarian State?

Derrick Miller emailed with a really interesting question that’ll probably end up answered subjectively:

I have been wondering for a long time which state LP chapter is the largest and most organized. Not which one has the biggest hotshot candidate du jour, but which one has the most developed and effective organization. Any chance you’d be willing to put that question to your readers?

I’d arguable that it’s Texas, since they had the organizational skills to put so many candidates on the ballot this election. Unfortunately, I don’t think flooding the ballots with paper-candidates recruits Libertarians as well as the “hotshot candidate du jour” method.

Feel free to speculate in the comments.

Update: Paper candidates end up hurting the party, no joke.

45 Comments
  1. The Texas ballot access law forces the LP to run judicial statewide candidates. The party must poll 5% for one statewide race, and the judicial races are the ones most likely to have no Democratic nominee. It’s not easy to find someone who is legally qualified to be nominated (must have been attorney for 5 years within Texas). These judicial candidates are saving the party’s ballot status, just by being paper candidates, and they should be appreciated, not denigrated. If the ballot access law made it easier for a party to stay on, then the party could afford not to run judicial nominees.

  2. Thanks, Mike.

    I don’t know much about all the other state parties… for the last year if it didn’t involve Georgia, I likely haven’t been too involved.

    In the last year we’ve managed to take the Georgia party from 0 employees to 2 employees and an intern… we’re expanding affiliates, running candidates, adopted a strategy for 2007, and are working on renewing members we’ve lost through the years and turning our members into monthly pledgers.

    We still have a long way to go until I’ll be happy, but we’re getting there. Thanks for the support and as always keep checking http://www.lpgeorgia.com and watch us grow!

  3. So far, the best-organized state parties seem to be Georgia, Texas, Indiana, and maybe Florida and New Hampshire too. But that’s just my impressions; I could be totally wrong.

  4. I’d say NH was wellorganized in 2002, 2003, and maybe 2004. However, now, I’d say that is not the case.

    The OR LP sent me a letter saying they were organized and I should give them money, but I am not sure if that means good things are really happening in OR. At this point, the LP doesn’t mean much in any of the states.

    I do know that good people like Trevor, Mark of ThinkLibertarian, and a few people in the Advocates keep plugging along in GA. However, in the end of the day, government will continue to grow in GA.

  5. Why not ask the question, “what is the largest and best organized Republican Liberty Caucus chapter”?

    That’s easy: Florida. Second is probably the RLC of Texas. The RLC also has top-notch affiliates in California, North Carolina, Georgia, and Michigan.

    Interestingly, in a few states like Maine, where the Libertarian Party is not even organized, the RLC has taken over the leadership role for libertarian political activity.

  6. Of course, the RLC is a Republican organization and promotes the big government beliefs of the Republican Party… as opposed to the small government beliefs of the Libertarian Party.

  7. quote: “I’d say NH was well organized in 2002, 2003, and maybe 2004. However, now, I’d say that is not the case.”

    in 2004 there were only two state LP that did not get Bednarik on the ballot.

    one of the states was NH.

  8. Even though we (Texas) have lots of paper candidates, we have lots of serious candidates as well. My impression would be that the strongest LPs are Texas, Indiana, and Georgia. Wisconsin and Colorado also seem to be sources of good news.

  9. I recall a recent Michigan-RLC convention with 8 attendees.

    I guess that is great for an organization with about 500 members and only one contributor to their PAC.

    When you take away all the hype that surrounds the RLC, a very bleak picture emerges. They claim to have elected dozens of state reps and Congressmen, but no one can point out how the RLC has done it. Unless you count not contributing to a campaign.

  10. I did not know the RLC had state conventions. I tried to look it up but could find nothing. I think the AR LP state convention had around 8 people in 2005. Again, none of these groups are big enough to matter at this point.

    An interesting tidbit about the ME LP, they might not be organized but there is an elected state rep that is a member of the LP in ME, though he said he will usually vote against freedom.

  11. Year after Year Georgia has done well.Texas is doing a great job this year. I believe the reason our Governor(GA) candidate is polling so well is because of the effort we have put in the past.We have been running state wide candidates for more than 16 years.It is funny that we do so well because we have some of the most difficult ballot access in the country.It also helps we have so great people working full time in the office.I am also happy with Vermont and Colorado state parties.

  12. Going back to the original question: Which state LP chapter is the largest and most organized?

    NH does NOT have the largest state LP chapter… but it does have the largest number of activists… we just don’t all join and get involved with the LP.

    A regular monthly meeting in Manchester attracts 50 people… a regular monthly meeting in Concord (a week later) draws upwards of 20. Non-regular get together draw upwards of 100 people.

    How other states can make that claim or show those sort of numbers?

  13. The Texas ballot access law forces the LP to run judicial statewide candidates. The party must poll 5% for one statewide race, and the judicial races are the ones most likely to have no Democratic nominee. It’s not easy to find someone who is legally qualified to be nominated (must have been attorney for 5 years within Texas). These judicial candidates are saving the party’s ballot status, just by being paper candidates, and they should be appreciated, not denigrated. If the ballot access law made it easier for a party to stay on, then the party could afford not to run judicial nominees.

    My comment here to Richard Winger is that laws that require being an attorney for 5 years are unconstitutional.

    The Texas Constitution
    Article 1 – BILL OF RIGHTS
    Section 3 – EQUAL RIGHTS
    All free men, when they form a social compact, have equal rights, and no man, or set of men, is entitled to exclusive separate public emoluments, or privileges, but in consideration of public services.

  14. VA is becoming one of the larger chapters, if only because it is losing fewer members than the other states. There are also several nationally known LP figures in VA… including the current chair, Bill Redpath.

    We have not had too much success at the polls yet; however, we do have some candidates that may have an impact this year and in 2007:

    Bill Wood, http://www.woodforcongress.com
    Arin Sime, http://www.arinsime.com

  15. Quote: “in 2004 there were only two state LP that did not get Bednarik on the ballot.

    one of the states was NH. ”

    And they were one of the states with the least amount of signatures, only 3000. They failed to get 3000 signatures again in 2006. Why thoese 100 people can’t each get 30 signatures(or each donate 10-20 bucks) is beyond me.

  16. I am not sure which State is the most organized.

    I am part of The Indiana Libertarian Party and I think it is doing fairly well.

    I am not sure how other States are doing…

    It is a subjective question…

    Mike Sylvester

  17. From my perspective, the state Libertarian Parties in Georgia, Texas, Indiana, California, Vermont and Virginia are the best organized.

  18. Chuck, it’s not quite that simple… it’s not just getting 3000, it’s 1500 in each district, for people who have not signed for anyone else, who are listed correctly as voters (including matching sigs and address), collected with not only the correct name/etc of the candidate, but within a limited period of time.
    Kahn missed his sig collection by 300 signatures. That of course is _after_ lots were thrown out… so the ‘real number’ is higher.

    And besides which, not all of those 100 feel that the LP is worth their time or energy when they could be winning an election, or otherwise doing something useful, instead of sig collecting.

    As I said, I expect the ballot access law to be overturned… so this might be moot.

  19. Rich Kahn being the candidate for governor this year.
    Out of the other ‘big’ slots, Bleven’s made his signatures for District 2’s congressional race, but Belforti did not make his for Distrcit 1, nor did 2 other candidates for district 2.

  20. Fellow Libertarians,

    As the chair of the Texas LP, I would be remiss if I let this one go by.

    Anyone that went to the national convention and the Oregon LP office knows they are at the top of the list. Indiana is in a virtual tie with them.

    Texas is a second tier affiliate. We will only get into the top tier if 2 things occur:
    – Better results in elections to match the success of Oregon and Indiana. This November could see improved results if we continue our “Quiz Across Texas” campaign. Municipal elections in May 2007 are a major opportunity where we need serious candidates.
    – Raise revenue like Oregon and Indiana have done to retain an executive director. If we don’t, we will likely revert to the third or fourth tier level of inactivity. We are lucky to have someone with the skill of Wes Benedict that will work full time for poverty wages to make this thing work.

    Patrick Dixon
    Chair, LP of Texas (www.LPTexas.org)
    City Council (www.PatDixon.org)

  21. Sidebar here,

    Washington (the one above Oregon) has a new website that has been emulated by the states (R) and (D) factions. And our Guthrie for Senate campaign has beat all Washington records for candidates in our state party history. With a web site that the Democrats seem to also use for ideas.

    http://www.bruceguthrie.com

  22. Patrick writes: “Anyone that went to the national convention and the Oregon LP office knows they are at the top of the list. Indiana is in a virtual tie with them.”

    Sorry Mr. Dixon I could not disagree more. As the former state chair in Oregon and county chair of Multnomah Co. (that is Portland) I hate to tell you, but having a good looking bottle of wine doesn’t mean the contents are great.
    Membership in Oregon was about 650 in 1999. Today it is around 200 and falling. Right now there is a petition circulating to recall the LPO Chair and the list of grievances is fairly significant and I could add a number of others.
    M.H.W.

  23. Having a pretty office and getting people to run for office is only part of the responsibility of a party. Developing a cadre of volunteers who financially support the party, and from which you develop candidates is also important. Putting on good conventions that attract people and the press help.
    I was going to develop a scoring system for state parties and hoped to have local LP members offer criticism of the state efforts, much as one does with a movie review, but that project was interrupted by a personal health issue, but I think it would be a benefit to the LP if we could compare the actions of the state parties and get that info published in the LP News. Simple things such as membership numbers, membership retention, newsletter frequency. Granted California has more resources than Rhode Island, but maybe Rhode Island would do some things that California would benefit from knowing about and as time goes on new qualities develop to judge. A little competition might help.

  24. It looks as if in Oregon, there’s a petition to recall the LPO Chair because money for the LP National Convention was funnelled through an “organizing committee” which just happened to be run by the Chair’s buddy, who just happens to be the Executive Director of the state party. Financial shenanigans such as this have been happening in Oregon in years. So, when you look on the surface, everything is fabulous – a big ol’ party HQ in the suburbs, etc – but scratch a teeny bit deeper and you see the state party is in financial ruins and is also slated to do worse at the polls in November than they did four years ago.

  25. As a former Oregonian (now in the Free State of NH), I agree with the above. While NH’s LP might not be in the best shape, it’s still in much better shape than Oregon’s… When people touted Oregon’s LP as a model, I grimaced and told them the truth was far far from that.

  26. As state chair of Oregon I would like to offer the truth about the recall. The petitioners have not done any work to promote liberty but spend their time attacking the LPO. They have shut down our website, requested to national to have us disaffilated, shut down our credit card machine and lied to the FEC. This current recall is full of half truths and outright lies.

    The comments by Adamson are incorrect. The LPO did not spend any money on the National Convention, that was done by the national party. The claim in the recall is about the LPO business convnention which was was run by a vendor outside of the LPO. In the past the state party would pay for hotel rooms, meeting rooms, meals, etc and end up losing money or break even. This year we allowed the ED to run this portion, this was known by the board, the members and anyone who went to the convention. This is common method of running a convention done by many other businesses. No money was funnelled. [email protected]

  27. Michael Wilson’s comments about LPO membership is not complete. Membership is not the only measurement of a political party’s success.

    When Michael Wilson was chair (95) voter registration was about 4 or 5 thousand. Today 15000. In 1995 no elected Libertarians held pubic office, today over 15. In 1995 one or two county parties, today 18 with about 8 active. This includes Washington county who has over 10 precinct captains. Back then statewide candidates would get 1%, today 4 to 5%. Campaigns back then did not exist, today candidates travel the state and are in the debates with the D & R’s. In 1995 meetings were held in restaurants or living rooms, today an office with full time staff and volunteers.

    Membership did drop since UMP ended and dues were increased, but the membership of dues paying members in 1995 was about the same.

    As for the 650 members in 1999, that happen after UMP was approved, something that Michael Wilson campaigned hard against during the convention.

  28. Adam, while some of your comments above are factual, the comments about the petitioners are quite clearly biased… as a member of the LPO mailing list for a few years, I watched their complaints (and others who had issues with the was the LPO was running) continually be ignored… Anyone interested in the whole story can read the backlog over the years at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Oregon_Libertarian_Dialogue
    (it’s a closed group, but I’m sure Adam will approve people who want the full story, right? There are plenty of non-Oregonian names subscribed, so don’t let that stop you.)

  29. Seth,

    Mark Vetanen did shut down the LPO website. Mark Vetanen did shut down our credit card machine. Mark Vetanen and Dan Wilson did contact the national party to have us disaffiated, M Carling our LNC rep came up to Oregon to meet with them. These are facts.

    As for the FEC case, feel free to visit their website (www.fec.gov) and look up MUR5486.

    Please feel free to look at previous LPO News at http://www.lporegon.org/news.html

    The Oregon Libertarian Dialogue is not run by the LPO but by David Terry. Please contact him since he is the owner/moderator of the list.

  30. Yeah, the Oregon LP is doing so well that this year, the candidate for Governor is pegged to finish *fifth*, get creamed by the Constitution Party [snicker] and probaby get beat by the Greens as well. Statewide vote totals in the LPO are going nowhere but down this year, and all they have to show for it are a few seats on some local school committees (no, not the school board, but a school committee – they get to decide who gets to have assemblies in the school!) Oh yeah – a water district or two, where the Executive Director of the LPO is a boardmember, got assimilated, and has done nothing to eliminate the office or the water district.

    But that’s what happens when “professionals” take a party over and try to emulate Republicans.

  31. Oregon has 15,803 registered Libertarians, pretty good for a state with about 2,000,000 registered voters. There are 12,580 Greens in Oregon, and 2,988 Constitution Party members.

  32. Adam, I didn’t dispute those facts, I said that there was another side, and you were clearly biased ie “the petitioners have not done any work to promote liberty”…. You have your perspective, and Mark has his… and plenty of other people (some with more credibility than Mark) have their own, many of whom have left the party in dismay…. Jay Bozievich is one good public example I’ll name, and I’m sure Adamson and Michael can name others…

    I thought that you were a moderator of LPO. My apologies for the confusion.

  33. Richard, while it might have 15,000 registered, the last few elections don’t show nearly that number in effect:

    Browne in 1996 8,903
    [When Michael Wilson was chair and had only 4-5K says Adam]

    Browne in 2000 7,447

    Badnarik 2004 (6,824 @ CSPAN’s results that night)
    but 7,260 according SOS’ Official count
    [I find that difference interesting… ]

    Compare that to:
    Cobb 2004 – 5,315
    and Peroutka 2004 – 5,257

  34. First off people need to realize that in Oregon Tonie Nathan has done an excellent job over the years at getting information about the party out to the general public. In prior year people like DR. Fred Oerther travelled the state during their campaigns and I can list a number of others who have done so as well.
    But the issue has to do with ranking the quality of the state organization and I still suggest we need to develop some simple criteria for doing so and publish that info in the national newsletter. Just start simply and build from there.
    M.H.W.

  35. “People make a grievous error thinking that a list of facts is the truth. Facts are just the bare bones out of which truth is made.”

    Shelby Foote

  36. Tim since I happen to be sitting at home recovering from a recent medical event how about you taking the time to entertain me and explain what you meant by your most recent
    comment?
    M.H.W.

  37. Dear all,

    I am proud to say that the Libertarian Party of Oregon is one of the most politically effective and well affiliates in the nation.

    Our volunteer organization received accolades at the 2006 national convention in Portland. We operate the largest Libertarian Party office in the nation, including the national headquarters. We have thirty public office holders now, 16,000 registered voters, and some of our counties are beginning to organize at the precinct level.

    In races where we are not strong enough to win, our canidates have frequently tilted the outcome of races, giving us lobbying clout at the legislature.

    We have moved several ballot access bills (SB777 and 747 2001 which passed into law) and (HB 3021 – 2005 which passed the House), and help bills pass which have diminished the role of state agencies (HB 3238 – 2005), caused bills to be amended which would hurt small moving companies (SB471 – 2003).

    There is much more, but emails are limited to 1000 characters.

  38. Seth,

    You are correct in that the LP Presidential candidates have received low numbers. But there has been a strong increase in statewide candidates over the past 10 years.

    Secretary of State
    1996 Zimmer – 19,563
    2000 Pole – 24,286
    2004 Morley – 56,678

    State Treasurer
    1996 Montchalin – 16,320
    2000 Shults – 54,091
    2004 Shults – 52,819

    Attorney General
    1996 Cox – 33,585
    2000 Cox – 56,611
    2004 Smith – 64,581

    Governor
    1998 Burke – 20,200
    2002 Cox – 57,760

    Many people I have talked with say that they vote D or R for President but then will vote Libertarian for the rest of the races. So while the vote totals have dropped for Presidential candidates, they have jumped way up for our local statewide candidates.

  39. Seth got my point. Since I have a hard time typing with a dead hand, I’ll let others make my point for me if I can these days.

    Facts without context render the facts as something less than truth. Only paired with context can you judge truth from facts. It’s much harder to do becuase it takes much more work.

    The first thing I would want to know is if the other people involved hate the new political bent of the LP, still in it’s infancy, and seek to undermine it. There are plenty of people that are actively working against the new direction, becuase it takes actual work to be successful instead of blowing a bunch of hot air, which is the only thing a lot of libertarians are good at. Being a protest party is a lot
    easier than being a political party. All you have to do is protest.

    if they use membership stats as a tool to show their point, you can bet they hate a political LP and much prefer the old membership protest club racket, and seek to return to it.

  40. I once new of a candidate for office who after the election put out a news release noting how great it was to come in second and how sad it was for his opponent to have come in next to last. Unfortunatley he failed to mention that it was a two person race.
    Yes Oregon LP candidates have seen some number increase, but that would seem to have more to do with the number of candidates in a race than actual approval of the LP.
    The percentage of votes going to parties that are not the R/D guys hovers around 4.5%. The 1996 Sen. race had 7 candidates and the LP candidate, Stormy Mohn got
    almost 1% of the vote in that race and 4.3 % of the vote went to those who were not R/Ds.
    The 2004 Senate race had 5 candidates. The LP candidate got 1.66% of the vote with 4.86% going to non R/Ds
    And while Don Smith holds the record for the number of total votes going to a LP candidate at 64K in the 2004 race the earlier record was 60K by Dr. Fred Oerther from 1992.
    (con’t)

  41. This year’s LP candidate for Governor in Oregon, Richard Morley, is not expected to get more than 2 percent of the vote. This is a campaign with 5 candidates. The Constitution Party candidate is well known for her anti-abortion stand and is a past TV celebrity. And the Reform and Natural Law parties are inactive in Oregon unlike the mid ’90s.
    My comment at the beginng of this had to do with the membership decline. The membership is the group the state party is most likely to get its volunteers, candidates and financial support from. The smaller that number the less likely any party will have at success regardless of whether they are redicals, or reformist.
    M.H.W.

  42. Patrick Dixon – thanks for the high praise (being on the same level as Oregon too)! But don’t sell the Texas LP short – you, Wes, McGinnis, Howard, etc., etc. are doing a great job!

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