Monday, October 17, 2016

Libertarian registrations up 28% in Nebraska

Libertarian Party sees surge of new voters in Nebraska | Regional Government | - Grant Schulte, Associated Press:

October 16, 2016 - "Nebraska's Libertarian Party ... has seen a 28 percent increase in voter registrations since the state's May primary. The number of registered Libertarians is on pace to top 10,000 before the Nov. 8 election, and a state senator who recently joined the party is using her experience as a former GOP political activist to teach its members how to campaign.

"'It has a different feel from the third-party campaigns of the past,' said Sen. Laura Ebke of Crete, who switched her affiliation from Republican to Libertarian in May.

"Libertarian activists have set up phone banks and are building a volunteer network to knock on doors. The party recently purchased campaign software to track and communicate with registered voters. They're also using a 'text blasting' app to communicate with young voters, a tactic borrowed from former Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders' campaign.

"Party activists are focusing more on local government races and setting up new county chapters to recruit candidates. Libertarian Ben Backus, who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state in 2014, is expected to win a seat on Gering's City Council after his primary opponent withdrew from the race. The party is also fielding candidates for the Scotts Bluff and Washington county commissions.

"Activists said their strategy is twofold: In local government, they can influence policies that affect people directly, such as property and sales tax rates. It also helps them gain experience and name recognition that could help them run for higher state offices....

"Backus said Libertarian Party officials have offered debate training and provided mailing lists to candidates who seek their help. Ebke has played a major role, drawing from her experience as a former GOP activist, Fairbury School Board member and state lawmaker. She now serves as Nebraska's state director for the Libertarian presidential ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld, both former GOP governors.

"Ebke said party activists hope to appeal to Democratic-leaning voters with their positions on civil liberties and Republicans with their emphasis on fiscal restraint. In the presidential race, the party is aiming to secure at least 5 percent of the statewide vote for Johnson in hopes that the Libertarians will automatically qualify for the ballot in the next presidential election.....

"Libertarians have traditionally struggled to qualify for the ballot in Nebraska but regained access in 2010 and slowly working to build their ranks, said Michael Knebel, a district coordinator for the party. Knebel said Ebke's party switch and the resulting media attention helped boost the number of registered Libertarians, as did opposition to Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton.

"'The last 12 months have been a game-changer,' he said."

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