Running as a Libertarian in 2018 – Where and How to Sign Up

Libertarian_Party_of_Michigan_Logo.jpgDear Libertarian Candidates and Activists,

The 2018 election season is underway and the Libertarian Party of Michigan is ready to take advantage of our major party status and run a slate of candidates in next year’s primary election.

As political director for he LPM, I have been tasked with recruiting and training Libertarian candidates for public office. In October, I sent a letter to past and prospective candidates for public office explaining how to qualify for the August primary election and about the LPM’s plans to support it’s candidates during the upcoming election cycle.  Thank you to everyone who responded to the candidate survey at the end of the letter.  If you did not receive my letter, you may download it here.

To help prepare our candidates for the next campaign season, over the winter months I will be visiting each LPM affiliate to talk about running for office as a Libertarian in 2018.  Some of the topics I will go over include; how to file for office, campaign finance rules, region specific information about which offices are on the ballot in your area, and plans at the state party level for candidate training and support. Your feedback and thoughts will be essential to helping us recruit and train prospective candidates.  I will bring paperwork to each meeting so candidates can file and as a notary, I can sign your affidavit of identity.  These talks will culminate in a larger candidate training workshop set to coincide with our Spring State Convention sometime in March.

These are the upcoming affiliate meetings I plan to attend.  I anticipate announcing a couple more dates in other parts of the state later this winter including the Thumb and Tri-Cities areas.

November 26, 2017

Libertarian Party of Genesee County – Swartz Creek

Jan’s Bar and Grill, 7499 Miller Rd, 6:30


December 5, 2017           

Libertarian Party of Southwest Michigan – Portage

Brewster’s, 5135 Portage Rd, 7:00


December 13, 2017        

Libertarian Party of West Michigan – Rockford

Krause Memorial Library, 140 E Bridge St NE, 6:00


December 20, 2017        

Jackson-Hillsdale Libertarian Party – Jackson

Steve’s Ranch Restaurant, 311 W Louis Glick Hwy, 6:00


January 4, 2018

Libertarian Party of Livingston County – Howell

Cleary’s Pub, 117 E Grand River, 7:00


January 11, 2018              

Capital Area Libertarians – Lansing

AW Body Shop, 3303 N East St, 7:30


February 1, 2018              

Libertarian Party of Wayne County – Detroit

Tijuana Mexican Kitchen, 18950 Ford Rd, 7:30


February 7, 2018              

Libertarian Party of Washtenaw County (Huron-Raisin group) – Ann Arbor

Classic Cup Café, 4389 Jackson Rd, 7:00


February 14, 2018           

Libertarians of Macomb County – Sterling Heights

Ike’s Restaurant, 38550 Van Dyke, 7:00


February 20, 2018           

Northwest Michigan Libertarian Party – Traverse City

Schelde’s Grille and Spirits, 714 Munson Ave, 6:30


February 21, 2018           

Libertarian Party of Oakland County – Troy

Shield’s Pizza, 1476 W Maple Rd, 7:30


March 2018                        
LPM Spring State Convention – Lansing area, TBD
Candidate Training Workshop
National Convention Delegate Selection
LibertyFest Banquet
Please note all of these dates and locations are subject to change.  Some affiliates plan to move their meeting locations next year and the winter weather in Michigan may interfere with traveling.  I encourage everyone to double check, either on Facebook, the LPM calendar of events on our website, or directly with me or an affiliate officer.



The LPM has purchased a full year subscription to the videoconferencing program Zoom.  We have used the service for some of our LEC meetings with great success.  It has proven to be easy to use and reliable during large meetings.  I plan to use Zoom for additional candidate training seminars for those who cannot make it to one of these meetings.


Filing for office

While I will bring candidate paperwork to each meeting, you may file at any time.  The deadline to appear on the August primary will be April 24, 2018.

All candidates for office from Federal down to Village are required to file an Affidavit of Identity, which must be notarized.

Affidavit of Identity

All candidates for State, County and Local offices must fill out a Statement of Organization.

Statement of Organization (State, file online with state)

Statement of Organization (County and Local, file physical copy with county clerk)

Candidates for Federal office are not required to file a Statement or Organization but are encouraged to register with the FEC.

House and Senate candidate registration.

Additionally, if you plan to open a separate campaign bank account, you will be asked to provide a Federal Employer Identification Number.

Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) Online

Lastly, as a result of being qualified for the primary, our candidate must file either a certain number of signatures or pay a $100 refundable filing fee.

Governor and US Senator – 15,000-30,000 signatures, 100 from at least half of all congressional districts

US Congress – 1,000 – 2,000 signatures

State Senate – 500 – 1,000 signatures or a $100 refundable fee

State House – 200 – 400 signatures or a $100 refundable fee

County offices – signatures or a $100 refundable fee,

Township, and Village offices – signatures only

(signature number is based on population, check with your county or local clerk)

The Michigan Secretary of State has more thorough information about the requirements for filing for office on their website which I encourage everyone to become familiar with.

I look forward to meeting everyone and working together to spread the message of limited government and individual rights to Michigan voters.


Peace and Liberty,

Greg Stempfle

Political Director – Libertarian Party of Michigan

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.



  • 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


LPM Special Bylaws Committee Report

Below is an excerpt from the Report of the Special Bylaws Committee of the Libertarian Party of Michigan.  Members of the party will be voting on these recommended bylaws changes at a Special Convention on February 4th in Lansing.

The full report can be found here:

and the supplemental report here:

A) Conclusions

The Special Bylaws Committee recommends 17 changes to the bylaws of the Libertarian Party of Michigan.  These changes are a result of our new so called “major party status” due to Gary Johnson’s vote total as prescribed under MCL 168.532.  The recommended changes are limited only to those related to our change in ballot status and affect 5 of the 14 sections of the current bylaws. The following topics are addressed; local party organization, conventions; officers; national convention delegates, and legal authority.

B) Background

At the June 12, 2016 meeting of the Libertarian Executive Committee, Chairman Bill Gelineau appointed me to chair a “special bylaws committee” to investigate and recommend changes to our bylaws in the event Gary Johnson earned enough votes to achieve “major party status” as called for in the bylaws of the Libertarian Party of Michigan.

CONVENTIONS VI.3.  All members of the Party who attend and register at a convention shall be delegates, unless the Party shall receive major party status. In the latter event, new bylaws shall be enacted by a special convention to convene within 90 days of such time as an LPM statewide candidate receives sufficient votes to gain major party status.

This bylaw was approved at the 1994 LPM State Convention due to the strength of the Jon Coon for Senate campaign.  This marked the first time that the LPM had to take the possibility of becoming a “major party” seriously.  At the time this bylaw was adopted, the state had no formal definition of “major” or “minor” party.  Parties either nominated candidates by convention or caucus (so called minor parties) or parties nominated most candidates by primary (so called major parties).  The law that divided parties into these categories is MCL 16.532, informally referred to as the “top of the ticket” rule.

168.532 Nomination by caucus or convention where principal candidate receives less than 5% of vote cast for candidates for secretary of state.

Sec. 532. A political party whose principal candidate received less than 5% of the total vote cast for all candidates for the office of secretary of state in the last preceding state election, either in the state or in any political subdivision affected, shall not make its nominations by the direct primary method. The nomination of all candidates of such parties shall be made by means of caucuses or conventions which shall be held and the names of the party’s nominations filed at the time and manner provided in section 686a of this act. The term “principal candidate” of any party shall be construed to mean the candidate whose name shall appear nearest the top of the party column.

Under this law, the 172,136 votes Gary Johnson received is greater than 5% of all votes cast for Secretary of State in 2014 (154,040 votes) thus triggering the change in ballot status for the LPM.

Note that in 1995, the year Ross Perot created the Reform Party, the Michigan Legislature defined “major political party” as “each of the 2 political parties whose candidate for the office of secretary of state received the highest and second highest number of votes at the immediately preceding general election in which a secretary of state was elected.” (MCL 168.16)   This definition has nothing to do with party ballot status or candidate nominations.  It is only relevant to election administration and describes parties having members on the state and county board of canvassers and as election inspectors.  The LPM bylaws were never updated to reflect this semantic change and there is currently no term to properly define our ballot status under state law apart from the descriptor “a party qualified to nominate candidates by direct primary method.”  Despite the semantic issue, the LPM is still required to hold a special within 90 days of the election as this was the “original intent” of the bylaw and the simple fact that MCL 168.532 is the law that the Secretary of State uses to determine political party ballot status, not MCL 168.16.

Our change in ballot status is not just limited to how our candidates are nominated.  The following changes are required under Michigan Election Law as a result of MCL 168.532.

  • There will be a Libertarian primary in August 2018. All candidates besides several statewide candidates (Secretary of State, Attorney General, the four public education boards, Justice of the Supreme Court and Lieutenant Governor if necessary) are to be nominated at the August Primary (534).  The filing deadline to appear on the primary for the following offices will be April 24, 2018. Governor and US Senator (15,000 signatures, 100 from at least half of all CDs), US Congress (1,000 signatures), State Senate (500 signatures or $100 filing fee), State House (200 signatures or $100 filing fee), and County and Township (signatures or fee).
  • Libertarian precinct delegates will be elected at the August 2018 primary and are to serve as delegates to the various county conventions (562). The filing deadline for precinct delegates will be May 8, 2018.  No signatures or fee is required, only a notarized affidavit of identity.
  • State law dictates the timing of our conventions and that state convention delegates are selected at preceding county / congressional district conventions.
    • Timing of even-numbered year state convention (591) and odd-numbered year state conventions (168.593, 168.597).
    • Timing of even-numbered year county / congressional district conventions (592), odd-numbered year conventions (168.594), and conventions to select officers (168.599, 168.600).
    • Apportionment and selection of delegates to the state convention are done at county / congressional district conventions (595).
  • State law also describes the internal makeup and length of terms for state Party officials (597), and county/congressional district officials (168.599, 168.600).

The text of each of these statutes is included on pages 78-80 of the supplemental portion of this report and are hyperlinked above and in the 17 recommended proposals when cited.

After the appointment of the committee chair, six members of the party were selected to be on the committee from a list of volunteers and recommendations. Following the election, members of the committee began drafting and discussing various proposals over email before meeting on December 18 in Lansing for formal discussion and voting.  A conference call was held on December 28 to fine tune the language of certain proposals and to address additional issues that arose after the first meeting.

The members of the Special Bylaws Committee include: Greg Stempfle-chair (Oakland), Jim Fulner (Oakland), William Hall (West Michigan), Lawrence Johnson (Washtenaw), Jamie Lewis (West Michigan), Emily Salvette (Washtenaw), and Jeff Wood (Livingston).

We received 29 proposals for consideration; 8 from William Hall (WH), 7 from Greg Stempfle (GS), 7 from Keith Butkovich (KB), 2 from Kim McCurry (KM), 2 from Emily Salvette (ES), 2 Tom Bagwell (TB), and 1 from Jim Fulner (JF).  Proposals were grouped into those related to our change in ballot status (19) and those unrelated (10).  Only those relating to our change in ballot status were considered by the committee.  There will be a regular bylaws committee formed in advance of the 2017 regular convention at which time proposals unrelated to our change in ballot status can be more properly addressed.

The 17 recommended proposals are presented below.  The order they are being listed in is a combination of how much support they received and how logically they can be grouped together.  In the interest of brevity and neutrality, the initial statements of support for each proposal and the discussion of each proposal as described in the meeting minutes are not being included in the main body (part 1) but are being included in the supplemental portion of this report (part 2).  However, each member of the committee was offered space in the main body of the report to provide commentary.

These recommended proposals will be voted on by delegates to the special convention held on February 4, 2017.

Notes about this report:  There are two parts to this report.  Part 1 is the main body which includes this background information, the recommended proposals, and the full draft bylaws incorporating them for full context.  Part 1 would be a reasonable document to have available at the special convention.  Part 2 is supplemental material and includes all of the original proposals and statements of support presented to the committee, the full text of the cited election laws, and the agenda a minutes of the meeting.  There is a lot of redundant text in this part so I would advise against printing these pages.  They are presented for a full record of the committee proceedings for party members who are interested.

I would like to thank the members of the Capital Area Libertarian Party for the use of their office for our meeting and the members of the committee for their time and dedication in tackling such a detail intensive project.

Respectfully submitted,

Greg Stempfle – Chair, Special Bylaws Committee


C) Recommended proposals (17)

Name               vote     Descriptor


GS03               7-0       Affirm Constitutional Rights under Michigan Election Law

Total                7-0 (100%)



WH06            7-0       Rejection of state law regarding delegates to National Conventions*

JF01                4-0       Clarification of candidate nomination processes

Total                11-0 (100%)



WH04             5-1-1    Incorporate precinct delegates and county conventions into bylaws

Total                5-1-1 (83%)


VI CONVENTIONS 11 proposals in 3 categories

Convention Timing

GS01a             5-2       Change timing of even year convention in accordance with state law

GS01b/WH02 5-1-1    Define odd year state conventions as regular conventions


Delegates to State Conventions

WH05             5-1-1    Apportionment of delegates to state convention by SoS votes and

Affirm party membership requirement.

KM01 (pt1)     4-0-3    Define number of delegates at state convention

KM01 (pt2)     4-3       All party members are delegates to regular 2017 convention

WH09             6-1       Issuing of call to convention

ES01               5-2       Timeframe for state conv. delegate credentials

ES02               6-1       7/8 approval for additional convention delegates


National Delegate Selection Convention

WH07             5-2       National Delegate Selection Convention (*incl. change to VII.2.)

GS06a             5-2       Delegates to NDSC selected by apportionment

WH08             4-3       Candidate endorsements at NDSC

Total                54-18-5 (75%)


III Officers     2 proposals

WH03             5-1-1    Make Political Director second vice-chair and replace at-large members (5) with representatives from each congressional district (14).

GS04               4-3       Add nondiscrimination plank

Total                9-4-1 (69%)


Not recommended proposals (2)

VI Conventions

GS05               3-4       Apportionment of delegates to 2017 regular convention by SoS votes

(by a 4-3 vote, this proposal will be presented if KM01 (pt2) fails)

GS06b             3-4       Delegates to NDSC include all party members

 Any proposals made to XV Provisos Related to Transition are included in the section which the proviso is referencing.

For the text of the proposals and the full draft bylaws, please refer to the reports linked to at the start of the article.  The rest of this report loses all if it’s formatting when pasted into this blog post. -GS







Michigan Election Results for non-Democrats and non-Republicans

Michigan’s third parties did relatively well on Election Day 2016.  The Green and Libertarian Parties elected six candidates to local office.  The Libertarian and Working Class Parties achieved so called major party ballot status for the first time and the Libertarian Party saw some of its strongest election results in party history.  Now that the official election results have been certified I can compare them to previous years.

US President

Third party candidates for President did well relative to other years in 2016.  This is the first year since 1980 that four different candidates earned more than 1% of the vote and the first time since 1996 that more than 5% of the voters cast their vote for someone besides the Democrat or Republican.

Table 1) 2016 Presidential Election Results for Michigan

Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Donald J. Trump 2,279,543 47.50
Democratic Hillary Clinton 2,268,839 47.27
Libertarian Gary Johnson 172,136 3.59
Green Jill Stein 51,463 1.07
US Taxpayers Darrell L. Castle 16,139 0.34
write-in Evan McMullin 8,177 0.17
Natural Law Emidio Mimi Soltysik 2,209 0.05
write-in Michael A. Maturen 517 0.01
write-in Tom Hoefling 95 0.00
write-in Laurence Kotlikoff 87 0.00
write-in Ben Hartnell 39 0.00
write-in Monica Moorehead 30 0.00
write-in Cherunda Fox 10 0.00
 total 4,799,284

 Gary Johnson earned 172,136 votes (3.59%) setting a Libertarian Party record in the process and resulting in the LPM achieving major party ballot status for the first time.  Johnson surpassed Ed Clark’s 1980 result of 41,597 votes (1.06%) by more than three times and earned more votes than any third party candidate since Ross Perot in 1996.

Independent candidate Evan McMullin received 8,177 votes (0.17%) as a write-in breaking the record previously held by Gary Johnson in 2012 with 7,774 write-in votes (0.16%).

Jill Stein had the 2nd best Green Party showing behind Ralph Nadar’s 1.99% in 2000.  Stein also became the second woman, along with Hillary Clinton, to earn more than 1%.  Stein had previously set the record for most votes for a woman candidate for President in 2012.  Now she holds the 2nd and 3rd such records.

US Taxpayers Party candidate Darrel Castle effectively tied their party record with 16,139 votes (0.334%) compared to Virgil Goode Jr. in 2012 with 16,119 votes (0.341%).  Castle earned 20 more votes, but 0.007% less of the total vote than 2012 due to lower turnout this year.

Figure 1) Libertarian Party Presidential Results in Michigan and Nationally


Elected Candidates from Third Parties

While no third party candidates were elected to any federal or state office in Michigan this year, six candidates were elected to partisan public office at the county and local level; five Greens and one Libertarian.

In Grand Traverse County, Green Party candidate Tom Mair beat his Republican opponent 53-46% to be elected to County Commission District 2.  This is the first time in Michigan that the Green Party has beaten a major party candidate, the first time since 1988 that any third party candidate has earned more votes than a major party candidate, and highest office a third party has been elected to in Michigan since at least the early 1970s.

In Ypsilanti Township, two Greens, Shuana McNally and Stuart Collis, and one Libertarian, Elizabeth Corder, along with four Democrats, were elected to the Ypsilanti Township Parks Commission.  The makeup of the board is now 4 Democrats, 2 Green, and 1 Libertarian.   Two other Libertarians including former board member Lawrence Johnson, came in 8th and 9th.    While there have been elected boards in US history that contained members of three different parties, the fact that only one major party is represented among the three on this board may be unprecedented.  Another Green Party candidate, Jesse Torres was elected to an open seat on the Holly Township Parks Commission.  None of these seats were contested by major party opponents.

In Newberg Township, Green Party candidate Korine Blyveis was re-elected to her fourth term as Township Clerk.  She was unopposed every time.

The five Greens being elected breaks a modern Michigan record for most partisan elected officials by a third party, previously held by the Human Rights Party who had three partisan elected officials from 1974-1976; two on the Ypsilanti City Council and one on the Ann Arbor City Council.

US Congress

Libertarian Congressional candidates had the strongest showing in party history and 2nd strongest third party showing since at least 1972.

The thirteen Libertarians running for Congress earned an average of 3.04% of the vote.  This is only the second time a third party has averaged 3% of the vote; the other time also occurring this year.  The new Working Class Party ran only two candidates but averaged 3.11% between them.  The three UST candidates averaged 1.89% (a record for them), the nine Green candidates averaged 1.47% (2nd best record behind 1.72% in 2008), and the two NLP candidates averaged 0.6%.

Figure 2) Average Vote % for Congress, Libertarian Party of Michigan


In District 6, Libertarian Lorence Wenke earned 4.93% (16,248 votes) breaking the record for highest % for a Libertarian Congressional candidate in a race that includes both major party opponents.   In District 7, Kenneth Proctor earned 16,476 votes (4.92%) breaking the record for most votes for a Libertarian Congressional candidate in a race that includes both major party opponents.  Ken fell short of his 1992 record of 18,751 votes (12.27%), in a race with only one major party opponent.   Libertarians beat their other minor party candidates in all but two races, being out voted in district 12 by a candidate from the WCP and in district 11 by former member of Congress Kerry Bentivolio, running as an Independent.  Kerry earned 4.38% of the vote.  In fact, these are three of the four best showings for Congress by anybody apart from a Democrat or Republican in modern Michigan history.  The strongest showing was 10.15% in a 1993 special election by independent Dawn Ida Krupp who had been active in the Perot campaign.

State House

The 25 Libertarian candidates for Michigan State House earned an average of 4.63%.  This is the 2nd highest average for the LP behind their 2014 record average of 4.96%, a year only five candidates ran.  No other third party has averaged over 4% for State House since 1972.  The nine Greens came close, averaging 3.71% and the seven UST candidates averaged 3.36%, both setting their own party records.   Libertarians beat the other third parties in all three races that featured more than three candidates.

Figure 3) Average Vote % for State House, Libertarian Party of Michigan


The best Libertarian showing for State House was Max Rieske who received 6.98% (2,965 votes) in district 91 followed by Ryan Winfield at 5.93% (3,018 votes).  No individual Libertarian records for State House were broken but the LP had 8 candidates earn more than 5% of the vote.  Prior to this year, the LP only had 8 candidates earn than 5% of the vote in the previous 40 years and four of these were two way races.  Three other minor party and independent candidates earned >5% including Green Party candidate John LaPietra in district 63 (5.71%) who became the first Green to reach 5% for State House. The best showing for any non-major party candidate was independent Beth McGrath who received 7.34% (3,643 votes) in district 39.

Public Education Boards

The four education boards (State Board of Ed and the three universities) are the only state or federal offices that voters cast votes for two candidates, allowing voters to cast a ballot for candidates from more than one party.  Libertarians contested all eight positions with an average of 1.65% of all votes cast.  This may seem lower than the other races, but only because twice as many votes are cast in these races.  For example, there were 8.4 million votes cast for State Board of Education but only 4.8 million voters casting ballots.  The 1.65% figure is the best the Libertarians have done since a record 1.85% in 1998.   However in 1998 all other third parties combined ran just 7 candidates for these boards whereas in 2016, there were 16 others.  The six Greens and seven UST candidates each averaged 1.23% and the two NLP candidates averaged 0.60%.

Mary Anne Hering of the Working Class Party, their only statewide candidate, earned 224,392 votes (2.66%) for State Board of Education, earning the WCP major party status.  This is a new record high vote total for any non-presidential third party candidate in Michigan history.  Her 2.66% is fourth highest % for all education board candidates since at least 1972.

Scotty Boman earned 198,349 votes (2.35%) for State Board of Education, the most votes ever for a Libertarian candidate in Michigan and Justin Burns received 174,430 votes (2.15%) for MSU Trustee, the most votes ever for a third party University board candidate and second highest Libertarian total.  Both candidates, along with Gary Johnson, broke the 20 year LP record of 150,869 votes held by Diane Barnes when she ran for State Board of Education in 1996.

Justice of the Supreme Court

While this office is nonpartisan on the ballot, candidates for Justice of the Supreme Court are nominated by political parties.  Libertarian nominee Kerry Morgan earned 442,781 votes (13.15%) breaking the party record for Supreme Court Justices set 8 years earlier by Robert Roddis.  Doug Dern, the only other candidate nominated by a third party, the Natural Law Party, earned 336,160 votes (9.76%) breaking their party record.

County and Local

The most votes for a Libertarian running for a countywide position was David Afton who received 105,732 votes (15.78%) running for Wayne County Prosecutor in a race with no Republican.  This is a new record for most countywide votes for a Libertarian.  In a three way race for Oakland County Prosecutor, Steve Afton received 27,149 votes (4.35%).  This is a new record for most countywide votes for a Libertarian in a race with both major party candidates.  (No, that is not a typo. Both candidate’s last names are Afton.Jamie Lewis received 5.53% (16,015 votes) for Kent County Clerk in a three way race, breaking his own record for highest % for a Libertarian in a countywide race with both major party candidates and becoming the first Libertarian to break 5% in such a race.  Edit: The highest % of the vote for any countywide race was Mike Steffes who earned 22.85% (2,2224 votes) for

No Libertarian records for County Commissioner were broken this year.  The best showing percentagewise by a Libertarian running for County Commissioner was Zach Boyle who received 28.49% (298 votes) for Alpena County Commissioner in a race with no Republican.  In a three way race, Dustin Reamer earned 5.91% (1,000 votes) for Genesee County Commissioner.   The most votes for a Libertarian County Commissioner was Mike Steffes in Kalamazoo County with 2,224 votes (22.85%) in a race with no Democrat. [Edit: This was originally listed as Jim Schell in Livingston County with 1,844 votes but when the official Kalamzoo results were released, Steffes’ total was higher.  GS 12/8/16]. In a three way race, that honor goes to Jim Fulner in Oakland County with 1,740 votes (5.49%).

Notable Libertarian local election results include the election of Elizabeth Corder to the Ypsilanti Township Parks Commission with 5.11% (4,719 votes) and Joseph LeBlanc who earned 8.62% (3,625 votes) in an unsuccessful campaign for Plymouth Township Trustee.

The only other third party to run county and local candidates was the Green Party who elected 5 candidates.

 Political Party Ballot Status in 2018

All of Michigan’s seven recognized political parties maintained their ballot status for the 2018 election season and two so called third parties earned enough votes to achieve the same ballot status as the major party Democrats and Republicans.

In order to maintain ballot status in Michigan, a party needs one candidate to earn more than 1% of all votes cast for the winning Secretary of State candidate in the most recent election (MCL 168.685).  In 2014 that was Republican Ruth Johnson with 1,649,047 votes, thus political parties need a candidate to get 16,490 votes.

Table 2) Candidate Receiving the Greatest Number of Votes for Each Political Party

Party Candidate Votes Office
Republican Donald J. Trump 2,279,543 President
Democratic Hillary Clinton 2,268,839 President
Working Class Mary Anne Hering 224,392 State Board of Education
Libertarian Scotty Boman 198,349 State Board of Education
US Taxpayers Angela Grandy 143,343 MSU Board of Trustee
Green Will Tyler White 126,125 MSU Board of Trustee
Natural Law Bridgette Abraham-Guzman 84,194 U of M Board of Regents
threshold to maintain ballot status 16,490

In order to achieve so called major party status and participate in the primary election, a party needs to have their “top of the ticket” candidate, the candidate which appears first on ballot, to earn more than 5% of all votes cast for all candidates for Secretary of State in the most recent election (MCL 168.532).  In 2014 there were 3,080,795 votes cast for Secretary of State, thus political parties need their top of ticket candidate to get 154,040 votes.

For the first time, the Libertarian Party has achieved this feat as did the brand new Working Class Party.  The WCP did not run a candidate for President, so their first candidate on the ballot was State Board of Education.

Table 3) Candidate at the Top of the Ticket for Each Political Party

 Party Candidate Votes Office
Republican Donald J. Trump 2,279,543 President
Democratic Hillary Clinton 2,268,839 President
Working Class Mary Anne Hering 224,392 State Board of Education
Libertarian Gary Johnson 172,136 President
threshold for major party ballot status 154,040
Green Jill Stein 51,463 President
US Taxpayers Darrell L. Castle 16,139 President
Natural Law Emidio Mimi Soltysik 2,209 President

Political Party Ballot Status, Historical Perspective

Only seven times has a third party achieved major party ballot status in Michigan since the current election laws were written in 1956.  Four of these instances were due to strong Presidential showings and the three other times were due to State Board of Education candidates from parties that did not run a President or Governor in those years.  This year is the first time more than one third party has achieved this feat making 2018 the first year that four parties will participate in the Michigan primary.

Table 4) Third Parties Achieving Major Party Ballot Status in Michigan

Party Year Candidate Office Votes Total Votes Cast for SOS 5% of all votes Candidate %
Working Class 2016 Mary Anne Hering State Board of Ed. 224,392 3,080,795 154,040 7.28
Libertarian 2016 Gary Johnson President 172,136 3,080,795 154,040 5.59
Reform 1996 Ross Perot President 336,670 3,051,756 152,588 11.03
Tisch Ind. Citizen 1990 Robert Tisch State Board of Ed. 178,342 2,492,277 124,614 7.16
Tisch Ind. Citizen 1986 Robert Tisch State Board of Ed. 136,891 2,324,064 116,203 5.89
Anderson Coalition 1980 John Anderson President 275,223 2,796,628 139,831 9.84
American Independence 1968 George Wallace President 331,968 2,374,416 118,721 13.98

Below is a list of how the Libertarian Party “Top of Ticket” candidates have performed over the years.  The closest the LPM has come to major party ballot status prior to 2016 was in 1994 when Jon Coon earned 4.21% of the required 5%.   Note that this 5% threshold has varied from as low as 116,203 to as high as 186,096 votes over the course of the LPM’s history and Coon’s vote total would have earned the LPM major party ballot status had he run 2-8 years earlier.

 Table 5) Libertarian Party of Michigan Top of the Ticket Candidate Results

Year Candidate Office Votes Total Votes Cast for SOS 5% of all votes Candidate %
2016 Gary Johnson President 172,136 3,080,795 154,040 5.59
2014 Mary Buzuma Governor 35,723 3,080,795 154,040 1.16
2012 Scotty Boman US Senate 84,480 3,173,248 158,662 2.66
2010 Ken Proctor Governor 22,390 3,173,248 158,662 0.71
2008 Bob Barr President 23,716 3,721,910 186,096 0.64
2006 Gregory Creswell Governor 23,524 3,721,910 186,096 0.63
2004 Michael Badnarik President 10,552 3,099,208 154,960 0.34
2002 Scotty Boman State Board of Ed. 88,000 3,099,208 154,960 2.84
2000 Harry Browne President 16,680 3,033,052 151,653 0.55
1998 Diane Barnes State Board of Ed. 100,638 3,033,052 151,653 3.32
1996 Harry Browne President 27,670 3,051,756 152,588 0.91
1994 Jon Coon Senate 128,393 3,051,756 152,588 4.21
1992 Andre Marrou President 10,175 2,492,277 124,614 0.41
1990 Mary Ruwart State Board of Ed. 79,083 2,492,277 124,614 3.17
1988 Ron Paul President 18,336 2,324,064 116,203 0.79
1986 did not have ballot status 2,324,064 116,203
1984 David Bergland President 10,055 2,940,030 147,002 0.34
1982 Dick Jacobs Governor 15,603 2,940,030 147,002 0.53
1980 Ed Clark President 41,597 2,796,628 139,831 1.49
1978 did not have ballot status 2,796,628 139,831
1976 Roger MacBride President 5,406 2,551,158 127,558 0.21

 Moving Forward

Many people will point out that third parties did historically well only because the Democrats and Republicans nominated the two least popular candidates in modern history.   This is true to a point but the 2016 results have continued an upward trend for Libertarians and other third parties that has persisted since 2010.  In fact, 2012 and 2014 were among the best years for the LPM.  There is no reason to assume that trend would not have continued through 2016 had the presidential race offered different candidates.

The relative success in 2016 is a combination of these two factors.  I believe that the LP and other third parties will continue to be more successful compared to the late 20th century if for no other reason than the internet has significantly leveled the playing field in terms of dissemination of information.  The 2018 election will truly show how much momentum third parties have gained this year.

by Greg Stempfle –  last place candidate for MSU Board of Trustees

Official Michigan Election Results: