While all of our attention (or at least most of it) has been aimed at the upcoming primaries in California and some other states, the Libertarian Party held its national convention in Orlando this weekend and elected its nominee for the upcoming presidential election in November.
Once more, their man on the ballot is going to be Gary Johnson, former New Mexico governor who will be joined on the ticket by former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
Even though this may seem like a typical national convention held by an independent party, it was definitely not typical.
The Libertarian Party has been one of the biggest independent (not Democratic or Republican) parties since it was founded in the early 1970s. Over the last decade and a half, it has grown into the biggest. It is the only independent party that is available on ballots in all 50 states and in 2012, Gary Johnson (in his first run) attracted around 1 percent of the vote, which was a major coup.
This year, they are expecting more.
This year, they know they are running against two very unpopular party candidates and they are counting on the votes of disgruntled and disenchanted party voters who have been clamoring for a viable third-party option ever since it became clear the GOP would nominate Donald Trump and the Democratic Party would nominate Hillary Clinton.
Gary Johnson might just be that third-party option in what is one of the strongest moves in the history of independent parties.
Namely, Johnson is the ex-GOP governor of New Mexico, who actually did a fantastic job while serving his two terms, displaying many of the traits that would make him a natural Libertarian powerhouse once he left the GOP. His Republican past is important because it will make him more attractive to GOP voters who have no intention of voting for Trump, and there is quite a few of them.
Another very important part of the whole story is his running mate William Weld, who was also once a Republican governor and who is the more “political” of the two. According to ABC News , some of the more “traditional” Libertarians were not exactly thrilled to go with Weld, who only recently left the GOP for their party, but in the end, they recognized his potential.
According to Johnson himself, Weld will be the crucial cog thanks to his fundraiser savvy and his politico navigation powers.
In short, the party was looking for an electable ticket and they went for the most electable pair possible.
Of course, this being the Libertarian Party, the convention was not exactly conventional.
Thanks to the very individualistic nature of Libertarian Party members and the fact that a comic con was being held at the same venue the same weekend, it was the perfect place for John McAfee, one of the party’s powerhouses, to reportedly exclaim, ‘Acid flashback!’ after running into Hagrid from Harry Potter.
McAfee also happened to be one of five Libertarian Party members who ran for the nomination. He and Austin Petersen made it to the second ballot with Johnson, who almost managed to beat them on the first ballot. Still, his falling a few votes short caused a bit of a mess at the convention, harking back to the years when this happened regularly with the two major parties as well.
In the end, Johnson managed to clinch the nomination, as well as influence enough party voters into supporting Weld, his choice.
To illustrate how weird things got at one point, we would like you to check out this vid of a party member on stage during the convention.
This is how you drop out of the race for the chairman of the Libertarian Party.
As you can see, the party still has a long way to go, but this year is the perfect time for them to break into the big league. They have a perfectly electable ticket with two former governors who understand how the political game is played. They are also pitted against two historically disliked major party candidates.
Stranger things have happened this year.