True Measure of Libertarian Strength is Vote Totals

Most Libertarians look to voter registration numbers as a measure of the party’s strength in North Carolina. That may be a good measure of how well the party is doing, but it’s more of a measure of how poorly the old establishment parties are doing.

Libertarian registration has steadily increased since the Libertarian Party of North Carolina gained more-or-less permanent ballot status in 2008. Meanwhile, the number of unaffiliated (independent) voter registration has surpassed the number of registered Republicans as voter registration for both of the old parties steadily declines. Independents may soon become the largest voting block in North Carolina.

However, a better indication of how well Libertarians are doing are voting totals – how many North Carolinians actually vote for a Libertarian candidate. After all, the primary purpose of a political party is to get people to vote for that party’s candidates.

Many more people vote libertarian than register Libertarian.

During the years when the LPNC needed to get three percent of the vote in order to retain ballot access, their focus was on that race. The LPNC broke that barrier in 2008, the first time in NC history that any “third party” achieve this. And they did it again in 2008 and 2016.

What is even more interesting is that in every gubernatorial election since 2004, the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor outpolled the candidate for governor. In two elections during that period, another statewide Libertarian candidate also out polled the party’s candidate for governor.

Michael Monaco ran for state Court of Appeals in 2018 and now holds the record for the highest number of Libertarian votes cast for a statewide office (167,748). He was also the first Libertarian candidate for any judicial seat. That achievement is doubly noteworthy because judicial races generally draw fewer votes than other statewide races. They are listed on the back of the ballot, and many people don’t even bother to flip their ballots over.

The 2018 election was a unique, “blue-moon election,” meaning there were no contests for president, governor or U.S. Senate to attract voters. The only statewide races were judicial races. Pundits predicted low voter turnout. But that was not the case. Voter turnout was the highest for an off-year election since 1990 (53%).

The 2016 election is still the high water mark for Libertarian votes in North Carolina. U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh got the highest number of Libertarian votes for a federal office (165,171 votes). That surpassed the votes for Lon Cecil got for governor (101,050), Jacki Cole earned for lieutenant governor (130,253), and Gary Johnson received for president (127,746).

The most important outcome of the 2016 election for the LPNC, however, was that for the first time in party history both the gubernatorial and presidential candidates exceeded the number of votes the party needed to retain ballot statues. And all three candidates received the highest vote totals any Libertarian has ever earned for these offices.

The number of people who vote Libertarian is more important than the number of people who register Libertarian. That holds even if you consider 10 percent of unaffiliated voters as “Libertarian.” Either way the numbers are low – but a substantially larger number of people vote Libertarian than register Libertarian.

So when asked, “How many Libertarians are there in North Carolina,” a Libertarian shouldn’t answer, “35,000 (Libertarian registration as of January 26), but “in 2018 more than 167,000 people voted Libertarian, and more and more people vote Libertarian every election.”

Let the People Choose Who Represents Them

Once again, North Carolina’s elections are under a cloud. A U.S. District Court panel just ruled two Congressional districts unconstitutional.

The people of North Carolina deserve a process where they choose their representatives, not the other way around. When it reconvenes in April, the state House should immediately consider and bring to a vote House Bill 92 to establish a nonpartisan redistricting process.

Under this bill, the redistricting plan would be drawn up by a legislative office and submitted to the legislature for an up or down vote. It is based on the system used in Iowa successfully for years.

For decades, North Carolina has had the most litigated redistricting process in the nation. Both Democrats and Republicans put partisan politics ahead of the interests of the people. As a result, elections were delayed and representation denied.

When the Democrats controlled the process, the Republicans cried foul and challenged the plans in court. Now that Republicans are in power, they act no better. Whichever party is on top invariably acts in the same, self-serving way.

Even though only two Congressional districts were ruled unconstitutional, redrawing the lines will have a ripple effect in adjoining districts. The problem goes far beyond using race to draw lines. The process is fundamentally flawed. The people of North Carolina need and deserve better.

The state Libertarian Party supports an independent, nonpartisan, open, and transparent redistricting process. Party registration, voting history data, and the incumbent’s place of residence shouldn’t be considered when drawing district lines.

Legislative Leaders Subvert Campaign Finance Laws


BREAKING NEWS: So much for Republican grassroots indignation. The “new,” supposedly “grassroots” Republican party chair has caved in to the oligarchs. He agreed to a “compromise” that will now allow an additional “affiliated party committee” to be set up by the senior member of the Council of State (i.e. the governor). Gov. Pat McCrory has siged the bill (or course).

Read more here and here.

“As Chair of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, I’d like to express sincere appreciation to both Republicans and Democrats in our General Assembly and Council of State for placing particular emphasis on their absolute lack of morals, ethics and professionalism,” commented J.J. Summerell.  “By stooping to new depths you have raised the LPNC, the Party of Principle, to new heights in the eyes of informed voters.”


by J.J. Summerell

In an eleventh hour back-door maneuver, the Republican leadership in the General Assembly rammed through a bill giving them the unlimited and uncontrolled ability to raise as much money as they want for candidates they alone select.

They’ll be able to appoint an “affiliated party committee” that won’t have to abide by the same rules and constrains that apply to parties and candidates. And if that doesn’t make a sufficient mockery of the law, individuals, lobbyists, and special interest groups will be able to give as much money as the want to these faux committee.

We agree with the Republican assistant counsel David Williams that this is a “poison pill” for the Republican Party. But it’s also a toxic potion for Libertarians, unaffiliated voters–and most especially the people of North Carolina.

We also agree with Rep. John Blust, one of 19 Republicans who voted against this bill, who said, “Honorable people do not conduct the publics’ business this way. The attitude reflected by the leaders in carrying this out shows a profound disrespect not only for the other legislators, but for the people we represent.”

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Fortenberry withdraws from NC governor’s race

Ken Fortenberry has dropped out of the race for the Libertarian nomination for governor. The nationally recognized award-winning investigative journalist and former newspaper editor cited financial limits for his decision.

“Despite my hopes to give a ‘early foot’ to my candidacy, the reality is that after more than six months into the race I have come to the conclusion that the financial support necessary for me to run an effective campaign into the general election simply is not going to be there,” he said.

Fortenberry was owner and publisher of news@norman, a weekly newspaper serving the Denver and the West Lake Norman area before it merged with the Denver Weekly.

In 1987, writing for the McCormick (S.C.) Messenger, his coverage of corruption in the sheriff’s office led to federal prison terms for the sheriff, a bribery conviction of the sheriff’s replacement and changes to state law enforcement certification. During the investigation, his home was bombed.

Fortenberry only other foray into politics came in 2012, when he lost the Republican nomination for N.C.’s 10th congressional district to incumbent Patrick McHenry.

“I had wanted to be able to share the Libertarian message far and wide long before next spring, but without digging deeply into my own pockets, that is just not possible.”

He said by withdrawing now he hopes someone more qualified, perhaps younger and stronger financially, will be able to mount a strong campaign.

“I believe strongly in the Libertarian message of maximum freedom and minimum government, but I have decided to enjoy my retirement and leave the heavy lifting to someone else.”

The governor’s race is critical to the Libertarian Party. It must get two percent of the vote in that race in order to retain ballot status. In 2008, the Libertarians were the first party in N.C. history to meet that burden. The repeated the feat in 2012.

Republican, Democratic voters ruled by fear of the other

The most important factor in the 2016 presidential election won’t be the candidates but the fact that the American electorate is now divided into two warring partisan camps. Moreover, this blind party allegiance won’t be based on support for “their” candidate, but on fear of the “other “ party – and its members.

That is the conclusion of an essay “The Only Thing We Have to Fear Is the Other Party,” by Alan I. Abramowitz and Steven Webster of Emory University.

“In the seven decades since the end of World War II, Democrats and Republicans have never been as divided as they are today,” they wrote. “Intense dislike of the opposing party and its candidates by supporters of both parties means that party loyalty and straight-ticket voting are much more prevalent than in the past.”

Abramowitz and Webster discount the 10 percent of Americans who identify as independents, concluding that their vote will almost evenly divide between the Democratic and Republican candidates.

Their essay notes that the rise of “negative partisanship” has drastically altered the nature of electoral competition in the United States. This is part of “a vicious cycle of mutually reinforcing elite and mass behavior” and negative views of the other party “encourage political elites to adopt a confrontational approach to governing.”

This essay reinforces some of the points made by political analyst John Davis in his “Strike While the Ire is Hot” presentation to the 2015 Libertarian Party of North Carolina Convention.

Show Up. Be Nice. Win!

The formula for Libertarian candidate success is rather simple: Show up. Be nice. Win. That will be the message of Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark in his keynote address to the Libertarian Party of North Carolina State Convention April 11.

sarwark_nicholas.pngSarwak said that when Libertarians run for office consistently, it shows people who aren’t libertarian that we’re a political party that’s here to stay, and will be here when they need us.

When we do show up, we should be nice. The means focusing on finding areas of agreement with people, rather than trying to win arguments. This builds relationships that will last long after the election.

“If we do these two things, and keep at it, we can win in the short and long term.” he concludes.

Join us April 10-12, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Miami Blvd (just off I-40), Durham.

Keeping North Carolina a one-party state

“There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters”― Daniel Webster

Daniel Webster could have been talking about the Republican majority in the 2015 N.C. General Assembly. Not only do they mean to govern, they also mean to insure that only they can govern. Having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the nation isn’t enough. Nor is gerrymandering electoral districts to guarantee Republican victories.

The Republicans want to make GOP stand for Grand Only Party. They’re perfectly content with keeping North Carolina a one-party state, as it was for many years under the Democrats. They just want it to be their party. Lenin, Stalin and Khrushchev would be proud.

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Free the Vote endorses state House candidates

Free the Vote North Carolina has endorsed three candidates for the N.C. State House. They are: Cliff Moore, District 96; Trey Lowe, District 106, and; Norman Bossert, District 113.

Free_Vote“We endorsed these candidates because they show fervent support for the individual’s right to vote and to vote effectively,” said Jordon Greene, Free the Voter founder and president.

“They understand the importance of free and open elections so that the people may have the true ability to choose who represents them and obtain the self-government the founders of this great nation and of our state intended them to have.”

Greene noted that North Carolina now has the nation’s most restrictive ballot access law, requiring the highest number of signatures for a new party or independent candidate to get on the statewide ballot.

“All too often politicians try to limit the ability of competitors to enter the race, and, over time have put strict barriers in place that effectively restrict the free speech and freedom of association in our state’s election process, thereby reducing voter freedom.” Greene said.

“These candidates don’t subscribe to that philosophy,” he said. “We look forward to working with them, and other like-minded individuals in the General Assembly, to reduce the barriers to political participation and re-introduce free, equal and legitimate elections in North Carolina.”

Free the Vote North Carolina sends out candidate surveys each election cycle after the primary and posts the results given by those candidates who respond.

Free The Voter Freedom Act

Free Voter Freedom Act

Free the Vote NC has issued a call to action to free HB 794, the Voter Freedom Act of 2013, from the state Senate Rules Committee. They are urging voters to call Rules Committee Chair Sen. Tom Apodaca, Senate Majority Leader Sen. Phil Berger, and the local state Senator on June 10.

“If we don’t act soon, the bill will die and we’ll have to start all over again in January 2015 to reform North Carolina’s highly restrictive ballot access laws,” said Jordon Green, Free the Vote president.

In order to keep HB 794 during the last legislative session, Free the Vote agreed to have the bill converted into a study bill. That effort was successful. The bill passed the House with a overwhelming 109-5 bipartisan vote.

But once it got to the state Senate, it was sent to the rules committee where it has languished ever since.

While the original bill would have dramatically lowered our state’s high ballot access barriers, the study bill, if passed, would task the Joint Elections Oversight Committee to look into all the restrictions on ballot access which we addressed in the original bill.

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Libertarians conduct first ever US Senate candidate forum

The Libertarian Party of North Carolina held its first ever U.S. Senate candidate forum April 5 during the annual state convention in Durham. Candidates Tim D’Annunzio of Raeford and Sean Haugh of Durham answered questions submitted by Libertarians from across the state. The forum was streamed live and moderated by Barry Smith, Carolina Journal associate editor.

Watch here.

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