Libertarians, third party candidates are minor players again

By Anthony Bowe
THE COLORADO STATESMAN

Colorado Libertarians lost every election on Tuesday but still enjoyed their strongest results ever, according to state Chair David K. Williams.

“It just shows that a big number of people, a non-negligible group of people, realize that nothing’s going to change if they keep voting for members of the two party duopoly,” Williams said.

The party gathered at the Clocktower on 16th Street in Denver for their watch party. Kate Melvin, party spokeswoman, said spirits were high at the party, which attracted at least 100 people.

The environment was really optimistic and congratulatory, Melvin said. “We all knew that we were a huge part of the movement as far as conservative turn out.”

The Libertarian party enlisted candidates in the U.S. Senate race, governor’s race, all seven congressional races and seven state races. Six candidates earned near five percent or greater of the vote. Rob McNealy, Libertarian candidate in CD 6 who earned 2.7 percent of votes, said Libertarians usually draw between a half percentage point to 1 percent.

“I think it was actually a good move ahead for the Libertarian party,” said Buck Bailey, the Libertarian candidate in CD 7 who earned 4.7 percent of the vote. “We’re getting better candidates out there and people are starting to take us more seriously.”

The Libertarians’ impact was probably most heavily felt in the U.S. Senate race as well as the race for the state senate in District 12 in El Paso County. U.S. Senate candidate Mac Stringer garnered almost 21,000 votes. Republican nominee Ken Buck lost by only 15,000 votes, while alternative candidates in that race, including Stringer, earned over 89,000 votes.

Also in SD 12, state Sen. John Morse barely defeated Republican Owen Hill by 1 percent. The Libertarian, Douglas Randall, earned 4.5 percent.

McNealy said Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t blame Libertarians or alternative party candidates for possibly being spoilers.

“We’re following the rules and they created this election system, which is all or take nothing. There are solutions to fix that if they don’t like the concept,” he said.

Williams said the party officially supports an approval voting system, which allows voters to select more than one candidate.

McNealy also said that Libertarians aren’t taking votes away from just Republicans.

“There’s a false premise out there that people think that Libertarians pull from Republicans. We pull just as equally from Democrats,” McNealy said. “Given our positions on the war, the war on drugs, gay marriage and things like that, we pull just as many people on liberty issues on the left as we do from the right.”

Jerell Klaver, Libertarian candidate in CD 5, said Tom Tancredo’s candidacy as an American Constitution Party candidate probably helped all third parties. However, it’s the tea party energy that provided the most assistance, he said.

“Really the tea party and Libertarian party have ideologies that are real similar,” said Klaver, who received 2.4 percent of the vote in CD 5. “We all want a responsible government and a lot of folks like myself believe the tea party will definitely continue along the same direction as the Libertarian party.”

His party will focus on fundraising efforts as it prepares for future elections, Williams said. The party will next meet in the late spring for its annual convention.

Other third party candidates also fared well Tuesday.

Green Party candidate Bob Kinsey, who ran for U.S. Senate, was disappointed he didn’t win but still was happy to finish third with 2.1 percent, or 37,000 votes. Kinsey thinks some of his votes may have come from Democratic voters who supported unsuccessful Democratic primary candidate Andrew Romanoff.

“I got an email from someone that said I was the Ralph Nader of Colorado and I take that as a compliment,” Kinsey said.

The only other Green party candidate to run this year was Gary Swing, who ran for Congress in CD 1.

The American Constitution Party fielded six candidates besides Tancredo. The best performers were Doug Aden, who earned 4.5 percent in the race for Congress in CD 4, and Amanda Campbell, who received 6.5 percent and over 100,000 votes in her bid for Secretary of State.

“I felt that we did pretty well for a third party in all our races,” Aden said. “There’s always mixed emotions (with losing). I was willing to serve but I’m happy to stay home with my kids. “

Anthony@coloradostatesman.com