Libertarians Can't Lose for Losing

Despite losses, Libertarians won big this election

The Libertarian Party of Texas came into the 2008 elections hoping to play kingmaker, but Executive Director Wes Benedict had another ambition. "I want to wipe the Republicans off the Travis County map," he said last January (see "The March Primaries and After: The Filing Report," Jan. 11). Benedict didn't achieve his dream; there's still Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Barbara Bembry – up for re-election in 2010, she's the only elected Republican official left in Travis Co. He didn't manage a single Liber­tar­ian win, either. But he did see signs of near-victory.

Two Travis Co. Republicans lost their seats to Democrats who polled less than 50% of the vote: Precinct 3 County Commissioner Gerald Daugherty to Karen Huber and Precinct 2 Constable Bob Vann to Adan Ballesteros. "I hate to gloat, but I've been gloating about that," said Benedict, who says the 5% Libertarian turnout in those races made the difference.

There were statewide achievements, as well. Court of Crim­inal Appeals Place 9 candidate William B. Strange became the first state Libertarian to break the million vote barrier (by 41,499 votes). There were steps in party-building, with the biggest slate of candidates ever (173 statewide) and its biggest fundraising success ("$121,000, which I know is peanuts, but we get a lot of votes for our numbers," said Benedict). But the biggest win? By taking more than 5% of the vote, the LPT has ensured that elusive prize for third parties – ballot access in 2010.

This was Benedict's last election as an LPT office-holder: He has applied to become executive director of the national party, based in D.C., and failing that will go back into private business. Yet there's still work to be done. "The excitement's over," he said, "but there's still all these yard signs to clean up. I'm as busy as ever."

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

election, Libertarian Party of Texas, Wes Benedict, Barbara Bembry, Gerald Daugherty, Karen Huber, Bob Vann, Adan Ballesteros, William B. Strange

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