Why I’m Running for 2nd Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Michigan

Dear Delegates to the Libertarian Party of Michigan State Convention,

I am running for 2nd Vice Chair (Political Director) of the Libertarian Party of Michigan and ask for your support.

My background.

Many of you have known me for years so I’ll introduce myself to newer members.  I’ve been active in the LP since I met Harry Browne at MSU in 1995 and have been a candidate in every election since 1998.  I have been a campaign manager and/or treasurer for several libertarian candidates, ranging from from city council to US Senate.  While I am not an expert on all election matters, I am familiar with most candidate filing and campaign finance requirements for both the Michigan Bureau of Elections and the Federal Election Commission.

I also served as editor of the Michigan Libertarian Newsletter from 2002-2003 and 2007-2009 and several terms on the LEC during this time.  I was active in Wayne County through 2009 when I moved to Oakland County and took some time off from party activism until last year.  I am currently chair of the LP of Oakland County.  I live in Ferndale with my wife Shelly and our nine turtles.  I am currently working as a Medical Technologist at Henry Ford West Bloomfield and have degrees in Clinical Laboratory Sciences (BS) and Molecular Biology (MS) from Wayne State.

Why I’m Running.

My motivation for running for Political Director was our change in ballot status resulting from our historically successful presidential campaign. After the election, I was given the honor of chairing the special bylaws committee tasked with getting our party bylaws and candidates ready for this significant change. With the knowledge I’ve gained, I want to help the party and our candidates navigate the quagmire of Michigan election laws we will face in 2018.

We must take advantage of our new ballot status and the momentum from Gary Johnson’s record breaking presidential campaign. More voters than ever were willing to cast a vote for a libertarian in 2016 than before and are looking to our party’s next election.

Under our new bylaws, the 2nd Vice Chair/political director’s responsibilities include; 1) “recruiting candidates for public office and helping them organize their campaigns”, and 2) “organizing seminars to make certain that candidates have the information necessary to qualify and run effectively for public office.”  Below are my goals for this position and how I plan to achieve them.

Contest a majority of seats in the state legislature.

Unfortunately, due to signature requirements, it will be difficult for us to run a candidate for Governor or US Senate.  I ultimately hope we end up with a full slate of candidates but if we don’t (and even if we do) my main goal will be to recruit enough Libertarian candidates to contest a majority of seats in the state legislature.  We would then be in a position to theoretically take over the State House and State Senate and begin writing and repealing legislation.  No third party has been able to do this in modern Michigan history.  It would be a significant achievement and send a clear signal to voters and the media that the party is growing, becoming stronger, and should be taken more seriously.

A majority of the State House is 56 seats (of 110) and a majority of the State Senate is 20 (of 38) for a total of 76 Libertarian candidates.  The LPM has run 76 or more candidates seven times in the past; 2010 (82), 2008 (85), 2002 (78), 2000 (111), 1998 (94), 1996 (76), and 1982 (99).  In 1982, the LPM ran 22 candidates for State Senate, a majority of that chamber, but only 26 for State House.  The most candidates the LPM has run for State House was 36 in 1998 and 2000.  Since 2012, 105 different people have run for office as a Libertarian.  The LPM has the numbers, we just need to coordinate candidate recruitment across the state and being qualified for the primary actually makes this easier by giving us a longer timeframe for our candidates to file for office.  Remember though, the filing deadline for the August primary is April 24, 2018.

Campaign as a party on three core issues, each targeting a specific voting block.

As part of the campaign to take over the state legislature, the party should focus on a few key issues for candidates to run on as part of a statewide campaign/branding strategy for 2018.  The vision I see for this campaign would be sort of a “Contract with Michigan Voters” or “This is what we will do if we take over the legislature…”  These will be libertarian issues that are ignored by the major parties but have the support of most voters (decriminalization of marijuana for example).  We should select three issues, each targeting a specific voter block; a libertarian issue where we agree with 1) liberals 2) conservatives and 3) independents and non-voters (the largest block of registered voters).  I want the candidates themselves to largely decide on these issues and will work with everyone to narrow it down to a manageable number.  At the national delegate selection convention in the spring/summer 2018, candidates will vote on which issues to get behind and promote.

Candidates would be free to run on their own platform of course and I am more than happy to recruit and work with candidates across the libertarian spectrum; from anarchists to constitutional conservatives.  I am more concerned about how individual candidates present themselves to the public than the nuances of their ideology.  Our objective as Libertarian candidates is not necessarily to convert the public to libertarianism but to earn their vote.  The best way I’ve found to do that is to find a common issue or two on which you agree instead of focusing on issues of disagreement.  Once people agree with a few libertarian positions, they will be more open to libertarian views later on and support our candidates and party in the future.

Candidate training seminars.

Running for office can seem daunting to new members.  To help recruit new candidates and make their run easier, I will continue the practice of holding several candidate training seminars across the state to educate our candidates about running for office.  I also plan to keep candidates updated about filing deadlines, media deadlines, etc. via multiple platforms including snail mail, e-mail, Facebook, and twitter.

During these seminars I will stress turning at least one of these campaigns into an active and winnable city level campaign in 2019.  Running candidates for nonpartisan office is something the party has had success with in the past and we should return to that as being a focus during odd numbered years.

I plan to run for Secretary of State.

In full disclosure, I also plan to seek the LPM nomination for Secretary of State and have already filed my Statement of Organization with the Bureau of Elections.

Learning Michigan election law gave me a better understanding of how the major parties have manipulated state election law to ensure their continued two-party dominance.  I want to use this platform to push for election and voting reforms.  I think for the long term success of our party, we should stress these reforms as much as we stress our libertarianism.

Improve internal party communication.

Apart from my platform specific to political director, my biggest goal that I want to work towards is to improve internal party communications.  I want the party to return to a weekly online email newsletter so that members know about meetings, news, and candidates on a regular and predictable basis.  I also think the party should still send a few limited snail mailings including an annual report/fundraising letter and should send a postcard to members for issuing calls to convention.

In Liberty,

Greg Stempfle

Candidate for Libertarian Party of Michigan 2nd Vice Chair.

 

Tl;dr

  • Contest a majority of seats in the state legislature
  • Campaign as a party on three core issues, each targeting a specific voting block
  • Improve internal party communication

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s