Is 2016 the year of the Libertarian Party?
The party’s annual convention made a splash in the news this week, after one candidate for party chair used his time to give a prepared speech to instead strip to his skivvies and dance for the crowd.
Michigan’s James Weeks ultimately said later that his antics were done on a dare.
Aside from that aside, a lot of business was tackled at the convention, most notably the party nomination for president of the United States.
There were at least 22 Marylanders at the convention, including Frederick’s own Dr. Kelly Shine.
It was her first time attending the convention. She was an official delegate chosen by fellow party members at a meeting in March.
Shine said she enjoyed her time at the convention, particularly observing the balloting process for the presidential and vice presidential candidates.
“To watch it live, it was great,” she said.
Both races at the convention went to a second ballot because the party requires a majority for any candidate to win.
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the party’s presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld is the vice presidential pick.
Shine declined to say how she cast her ballot. She had the ability to cast her delegate ballot for any candidate she chose, unlike the delegates to the Republican and Democratic national conventions, who are often bound to vote a certain way based on their state’s popular vote.
There were about 900 delegates at the convention, said Bob Johnston, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Maryland.
The state added one delegate this year, bringing the total number of Maryland delegates to 22. The number of delegates for each state is determined by the size of the party membership in that state, the total population of a state and how well the Libertarian presidential candidate did in the past election, Johnston said.
There are about 16,000 registered voters who are members of the Libertarian Party in the state, Johnston said. Because of the state’s closed primary system, a smaller number — about 6,900 — were eligible to vote in the April primary election.
Johnston said he’s seen the party’s support grow over time. “I think there’s a disgust with the establishment parties. Their rhetoric is different, but they’re on the same page 90 to 95 percent of the time,” Johnston said.
As a result of voter dissatisfaction with the presumptive Republican and Democrat nominees, Libertarians are hoping the 2016 election will be a boon for the party.
Of course, there are always hundreds of candidates who enter their names for possible election to the presidency, so the Commission on Presidential Debates established a 15 percent polling threshold for those who can share the debate stage.
Johnston said that threshold is a barrier to third-party candidates, but he hopes that if Johnson can consistently poll in double digits, the Libertarian party would be represented in general election debates.
There are Libertarian candidates on the state ballots this year, including U.S. Senate candidate Arvin Vohra, and Jasen Wunder, a candidate for the 8th District House seat.
New central committee member
The Frederick County Democratic Central Committee announced in its June newsletter that Millicent Hall has been chosen as its newest member. She replaces Jamie Shopland, who recently resigned.
Hall is a familiar face in Frederick County politics. She works as a legislative assistant to Sen. Ron Young and is vice president of the Women’s Democratic League.