Oliver’s nomination deepens Libertarians’ Georgia connection

Gun Rights

When the book is finally written someday about the Libertarian Party’s long sojourn in the political wilderness, there will need to be a big chapter about Georgia.

They may have had no better luck getting elected here than elsewhere, but Libertarians had a historic impact in 1992, when Libertarian Senate candidate Jim Hudson got 3 percent of the vote, forcing Democratic incumbent Sen. Wyche Fowler into a runoff, which he lost to Republican Paul Coverdell. It’s no exaggeration to say that the runoff election set the stage for the next three decades of politics in Georgia and marked the end of a very short honeymoon for Bill Clinton, who campaigned for Fowler right after he was elected president.

Democrats eliminated runoffs and the 50 percent requirement after that election, which allowed Sen. Max Cleland to win re-election with less than 50 percent of the vote in 1996. Republicans restored it in 2005 after they gained control of the Golden Dome, to what must be their lasting regret. Former U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss survived a runoff which was forced by Libertarian Allen Buckley in 2008, but in 2020, Libertarian Shane Hazel denied incumbent Republican David Perdue, setting the stage for John Ossoff’s runoff victory in early 2021.

Not only have unsuccessful Libertarian candidates been the yeast for a lot of this state’s politics, but Georgia has given the party two of its recent presidential candidates. Side by side, they exemplify their party’s embrace of positions that span the commonly understood political spectrum.

You Might Like

Former U.S. Rep. Bob Barr won the party’s nomination in 2008 and finished behind Barack Obama and John McCain with more than a half-million votes or 0.4 percent of the total. He later returned to the Republican Party. Guns were his defining issue when he was a Libertarian, and last month, he was elected president of the National Rifle Association.

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock was also forced into a runoff in 2020 by a Libertarian, Chase Oliver. At their national convention in Washington last week, the Libertarians nominated Oliver, their 2024 presidential candidate, in the seventh round of voting. This is not at all unusual for Libertarians. Unlike the two majority parties, they prefer to hash things out when they get together and have been known to dump pre-convention favorites for challengers who catch fire.

Before they nominated Oliver, the Libertarians booed Donald Trump, who was ruled ineligible to run for the party’s nomination and eliminated Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who made a serious pitch to them, in the first round of voting. That alone is a reason not to discount the role Oliver might play in the coming months.

If Kennedy had won over the Libertarians, he would have gained ballot access in 38 states compared to the six he currently has. Instead, Kennedy becomes Oliver’s primary target at the outset of this campaign because Kennedy cuts into the thin margin by which his party has gained ballot access and because they are fighting for essentially the same votes.

“Rule No. 1: If you want to elect a political outsider, don’t elect a guy with the last name Kennedy,” Oliver said in his acceptance speech.

If guns were the touchstone for Barr’s libertarian sentiments, Oliver’s is a deep antiwar sentiment that began with his opposition to the War in Iraq and continues with his condemnation of “proxy wars” like the one in Gaza.

He’s also 38 years old and gay, which, along with the anti-war sentiment, makes for quite a contrast with the Democratic and Republican nominees, not to mention some of his own party’s previous candidates. That combination may appeal to only a small percentage of General Election voters, but how small is small in an election this close?

Oliver has indicated that party building will be a priority of his campaign, having visited all 50 states in his campaign for the nomination. That seems timely. To win the nomination, Oliver had to overcome a more hard right faction which looks a lot like the MAGA wing of the Republican Party.

There’s not a lot of room for the party to grow in that direction. Whether Oliver, a candidate decidedly not like anyone else in this race, can grow his party in another direction remains to be seen.

You Might Like

Articles You May Like

Gun industry hopes Biden verdict ends illegal purchases
Hot Tent Challenge Part 3 – Fixes and Improvements
Meet Trump’s New Christian Kingpin
Supreme Court’s Unanimous Decision in NRA Case One Every American Can Celebrate
Joe Biden delivers gun-safety speech hours after son’s firearm conviction

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *