Libertarian Party Wars in D.C.: The “Take Who We Can Get” Folk vs, the Neo-Professionals

The Washington, D.C., Libertarian Party gets the kind of
detailed in-fighting reporting
in Washington City Paper 
that third parties (and
indeed even local and state branches of major parties) rarely get,
with news about how a Party with newfound ballot access in D.C.
sees conflict between those who are happy to get the Party rolling
with anyone and those said to be seeking a higher level of

Thanks to Bruce Majors winning the L.P. relatively trouble-free
ballot access by earning 6 percent in the 2012 election for D.C.’s
non-voting House member (Eleanor Holmes Norton kept the gig), the
L.P. needs to collect merely a couple of signatures to get
candidates on the ballot for local elections–literally just a
couple, representing one percent of the number of registered
Libertarians in D.C.

Now Majors is working hard to get other Libertarians to run for
local office:

So far, his candidate slate—all white men and [Sara] Panfil, a
white woman—doesn’t do much to disprove the stereotype of
Libertarians as a party for nerdy white people. Majors has had
trouble convincing people of color to take a trip to the Board of
Elections, even when, in an attempt just to get another candidate
on the ballot, he promises that their campaign work would be
limited to signing a few papers and appearing on the ballot.

In other words, Majors had to promise potential candidates they
would not win.

Still, Majors hopes to find a more diverse roster before his
party’s primary. “Not that I think of these people in that way, but
the media and the electorate will, so I have to also,” he says.

Conveniently for his plans, he’s setting the bar low. When out
trawling Libertarian gatherings for candidates, Majors says he’s
just looking for someone intelligent and presentable—and, of
course, willing to run for office.

But casting a wide net has its downsides, especially with a
party known for dislike of being told what to do. Before meeting
his candidates at the Board of Elections, Majors sent out a press
release declaring that [Frederick] Steiner would be running for
Council chairman; he decided to run for the at-large seat

Steiner’s on to something. Because of Home Rule Act
requirements, two of the Council’s four at-large seats have to go
to a candidate who’s not a member of the District’s majority
party—in other words, now and forever, the Democrats….

The significance of the set-aside seat isn’t lost
on John Vaught LaBeaume, another would-be
Libertarian candidate recruiter. While Majors will sign anyone with
a copy of The Road to Serfdom and a pulse,
LaBeaume is trying to recruit local business owners to run for the
at-large spot. If he succeeds, his candidate will be going up
against Majors’.

“Just me personally, I’m not going to work without a really
solid candidate,” LaBeaume says….

And like the old saying goes, find two Libertarians and you’ll
find at least two factions:

In a nod to their cantankerous party, Majors and LaBeaume give
each other a wide berth. Majors described LaBeaume to LL [Loose
Lips, the columnist writing this] as “my parallel person,” but
declined to give LL his rival’s name. (Fortunately, the paucity of
Libertarians in D.C. politics meant LL didn’t have to look

Majors contrasts his candidate-heavy approach with LaBeaume’s
criteria, which he describes as “anybody more famous than me.” He
says he has only occasional contact with LaBeaume—an impressive
feat, since, as Steiner jokes, you could accommodate the District’s
entire Libertarian Party membership at a very large dinner

LaBeaume spoke in my
feature on the Sarvis campaign aftermath
, and wrote
his own Reason piece
on the L.P.’s future.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.