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Michigan Libertarians win 'status', if not many elections on Tuesday

Voters in Midland cast ballots for Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians on Tuesday.
Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
Voters in Midland cast ballots for Republicans, Democrats and Libertarians on Tuesday.

Michigan’s Libertarian Party didn’t win many races Tuesday, but the party received more votes than it has in the past.

Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson picked up nearly 170,000 votes in Michigan. Many local candidates did very well too. Some getting more than 5% of the votes cast in their races.

“These are not wins,” says Bill Gelineau, Michigan’s Libertarian Party chairman. “This doesn’t mean that we’re sitting in the Legislature. But it does mean that we’re becoming a bigger and bigger part of the conversation.”

Gelineau says Johnson’s vote total should qualify the Libertarians as a ‘major party’ in Michigan. He says that’s significant for several reasons. But Gelineau cautions in will be a “challenge” for the party to maintain ‘major party’ status.

“We’re going to have to find a candidate that runs for governor [in 2018] who’s going to be able to express those values and rally people to maintain that level,” says Gelineau.

Along with fielding strong candidates, Gelineau says Libertarians will also have to back ballot questions in keeping with their philosophy of believing in free enterprise and the free market system together with a tolerant social policy. He says that would include legalizing marijuana.   

Gelineau rejects complaints of some Democrats that Libertarians and other third party candidates cost Hillary Clinton votes in Michigan on Tuesday.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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