There are almost 30 Libertarian candidates running for various offices in Missouri this year, more than all but four other states in the country.
KBIA’s Erin Dismeier spoke to some Libertarians and their candidates in Missouri to hear their thoughts on this year’s election.
The Boone County Libertarian Party holds a monthly meeting at Angelo’s Pizza and Steakhouse in Columbia. Chairman John Schultz says sometimes they’ll discuss current events like the presidential debate or upcoming campaigning opportunities.
“We’re just trying to get our message out there, that you have a choice besides the democrats and republicans,” Schultz said.
Schultz helped organize other local libertarian parties across the state the past few years to fill in gaps between the bigger cities like Columbia and St. Louis.
For a third party to maintain access to the ballot without a candidate petitioning, it has to get at least two percent of the vote statewide. Schultz says Missouri’s done that since 1982 and is much better off than most states in that regard.
“Saves us money as far as not having to spend those resources in that regard we can use it more to promote candidates,” Schultz said.
Jonathon Dine stood in the tunnel near Faurot Field Saturday, handing out literature to University of Missouri fans before the football game against Alabama. Dine is one of the most well known Libertarian candidates this election. He’s running for Senate against Republican Todd Akin and Democrat Claire McCaskill.
“Now more than ever, a lot of individuals are just upset with both parties in particular. The constant fighting, the us versus them mentality really puts off a lot of voters,” Dine said.
Dine says his two opponents unappealing reputations have helped his campaign and may help his chances on Election Day.
“Both candidates are so unpopular, that it really has made a difference in my race. Even in the most recent poll where I’m at 9% of the vote,” Dine said.
Thomas Holbrook from Warrensburg is the Libertarian running for Congress in Missouri’s Fourth District. Holbrook agrees with Dine that many voters go to the Libertarian Party because they’re dissatisfied with the two major parties.
“Realizing the two-party system is so corrupt. It’s sort of like professional wrestling in front of the cameras,” Holbrook said.
Back in Boone County, Libertarians say despite these small gains for the party, they’re still realistic about their goals. Some don’t expect a Libertarian to win a race for a statewide office this year.
Boone County Libertarian Party member Bruce Summers says one of the biggest challenges to connect with different party members is different interpretations of the constitution.
“If you’re honest with yourself and you read the constitution for what it says, it’s a consistent document. So that’s the real challenge to get out with the people, there’s two sides of the coin,” Summers said.
Schultz says it’s also a matter of how voters were brought up.
“I think a lot of voters just go in with a ballot and either vote for one party b/c that’s who their parents voted for or they think they are. They don’t do a lot of research between the two candidates to find out what they stand for,” Schultz said.
Still, the Boone County Libertarians will continue supporting and campaigning for their candidates.