The North Carolina Libertarian Party annual state convention has been set for April 10 to 12, 2015 at the Hilton Garden Inn on Miami Blvd. in Durham. This may be an off-off-year for elections, but it’s not for the libertarians. The party will be electing its entire 13 person executive committee, including officers and at large members.
While the party’s voter registration is still less than one percent of the electorate, it has grown significantly in 2014. Both Democratic and Republicans registration has steadily declined, at a rate of 0.3 percent per year in the last four years. Meanwhile, unaffiliated Libertarians voter registration, by comparison, has skyrocketed. Unaffiliated registration increased 5.6 percent and Libertarian registration by 28 percent per year.
This disaffection with the established parties may have been reflected in the U.S. Senate race. Despite massive spending by the Democrats and Republicans, Libertarian Sean Haugh’s low budget “virtual campaign” drew national and international media attention. Haugh produced more than 30 YouTube videos focusing on his positions.
Haugh noted that the Libertarian vote now has become the swing vote, since his totals were greater than the margin of difference between Republican Thom Tillis and incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan. Exit polls also indicated he drew votes more from people identifying themselves as “moderate” or “liberal” than those who said they were conservative, putting another nail in the coffin of the Libertarian “spoiler” myth.
Haugh garnered the most (109,000) and the highest percentage (four percent) of votes by any statewide Libertarian candidate in a midterm election ever. Down ticket, three Libertarian candidates scored a vote percentage in double digits in two-way races: Shelby Mood (N.C. House 117), Erik Cable (N.C. House 104), and Jeremy Hussey (Randolph County Commissioner District 2).
In the 7th Congressional District, despite attempts by the Republican to avoid debates in the gerrymandered safe seat, Wesley Casteen took part in at least one debate with both his Republican and Democratic opponents. WRAL TV also invited him to participate in their debate, where he appeared with just the Democratic candidate.
The Libertarians next major election is the governor’s race in 2016. The party must get two percent of the vote for governor or president in order to retain state recognition and ballot access. Ken Fortenberry, a retired Lincoln County newspaper publisher, has announced he will seek the nomination. There are at least two other unnamed Libertarians who may also run.