Libertarians: The New Democratic Strategy

With the Democrats in Congress looking to incur major losses on election day, the party has shifted to another strategy: support Libertarians.

Technically, the Democratic Party is not endorsing the Libertarian Party’s candidates. And of course, the Democrats still want you to vote for them. Nevertheless, all over the country beleaguered Democrats are attempting to split the conservative vote by churning out literature supporting the LP. Take these examples:


…the Democratic Party is highlighting a longshot third-party candidate in an effort to undermine a Republican nominee–in this case, Andy Harris, the GOP challenger in Maryland’s tightest House race.

The tactic is either a desperation move, or a sign of how close the contest is, or both. It has special resonance in Maryland’s First District, where the Libertarian candidate’s two percent of the vote arguably tipped the historically Republican seat to Democrat Frank Kratovil in ’08.

The Democratic mailer, first reported by Eastern Shore blogger Michael Swartz, masquerades as an attack on Richard Davis, the third man in the race, running again this year on the Libertarian line, with no realistic chance of winning.

Paid for by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the flier describes Davis, twice, as an outsider and Tea Party type.

Davis “plans to cut government spending, will drastically reduce the size of government across the board, is a complete outsider . . . Davis and the Tea Party think government is part of the problem, and want to make it as small as possible.”

“Richard Davis: Is he too conservative?” asks the mail piece.

The audience for the flier appears to be conservative voters.


The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Illinois Democratic Senate nominee Alexi Giannoulias admitted yesterday that his campaign had a hand in a mailer sent to conservatives in downstate Illinois touting Libertarian Senate candidate Mike Labno as a “pro-life, pro-gun” alternative to Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican nominee in the race.

A scan of the flyer was posted by The Capitol Fax Blog on Tuesday. The front features a picture of Kirk, with the question “not a conservative?” Inside, below a picture of Labno, the flyer reads “Conservative Mike Labno, the only pro-life, pro-gun candidate for U.S. Senate, says Congressman Kirk is ‘not a conservative.’ Is he right?” The back features a picture of Giannoulias, and reads “While Labno and Kirk fight over labels, Alexi Giannoulias is fighting for Illinois Jobs.” The flyer also included a box that read “Paid for by Illinois Victory, a Project of the Lake County Democratic Party.”


The Indiana Democratic Party has sent an unusual mailer to 9th Congressional District voters, calling Libertarian Greg Knott the race’s “real conservative” in an attempt to siphon votes away from Republican Todd Young.

The mailer went to the district’s “conservative voters” but not just Republicans, said Indiana Democratic Party Chairman Dan Parker.

It does not mention Democratic incumbent Baron Hill or Young, whose campaign called the move “the last gasp of a flailing campaign.”

But Parker said the intended message to voters is that Young “is a part of the Republican establishment who was shipped in to run for this seat.”

“When it comes to who is the real Tea Party conservative, it’s Greg Knott,” Parker said.

It appears the Democratic Party is trying the same strategy in Michigan, although in this case the candidate the party is indirectly supporting is Independent Glenn Wilson.

UPDATE: Democrats are sending out literature for a Libertarian in the Eighth Congressional District of Arizona.

12 thoughts on “Libertarians: The New Democratic Strategy

  1. George Phillies

    Not visible locally. There are still several days to go.

    Of course, we are running libertarian libertarians, and the republicans happen in those races to be running conservatives as described above.

  2. Mik Robertson

    Hmm. In Pennsylvania we have major party candidates directly attacking Libertarian candidates. There have been several cases where major party Democratic candidates have put out flyers directly attacking the Libertarians, generally with attempts to associate them with extreme ideas with platform quotes. Fortunately, that is not as effective of a technique as it once was.

  3. George Phillies

    I suspect it must depend on the exact situation. The Democrats may have started to notice that our candidates can draw more from them than from the Republicans.

  4. George Phillies

    In other Libertarian news, Jim Bovard won his lawsuit against Barr 2008 for his ghostwriting fees:

    Docket Type: Ruling Filed By: Court Status: Granted
    Ruling Judge: DEBELIUS, JOHN W III
    Reference Docket(s): Motion: 28

  5. AroundtheblockAFT

    Achieving balance of power and not asking the party being helped for any quid pro quo?

  6. Thomas L. Knapp

    It seems like a sound strategy:

    In places where Small Party C is more like Big Party B than like Big Party A, Big Party A attacks Small Party C.

    The hoped-for effect is to make Small Party C bigger (especially in the context of vote totals for its candidates) so that Big Party B becomes smaller.

    It’s something they’ll have to be careful about, though. If Small Party C also has a measure of appeal to the followers of Big Party A, the targeting needs to be very good or Big Party A may hurt itself as much as it hurts Big Party B …

    … or there might be turnabout of the same type by Big Party B, in which case Small Party C becomes bigger at the expense of both big parties.

  7. JT

    Obviously this doesn’t mean Democrats candidates consider Libertarians a serious threat; it means quite the opposite. They’re just trying to siphon enough votes away from the Republican candidate to the Libertarian candidate, confident that the Libertarian candidate has no chance of winning anyway. The proper response is for the Libertarian candidate to also point out his or her support for ideas widely considered left-wing, thus garnering votes from traditionally Democratic voters as well and countering any message that Libertarians are “real conservatives.”

  8. paulie

    Excellent idea. Hey, maybe we could get both big box D/R-oid parties to send out mailers on behalf of our candidates next time?

  9. Steve

    I agree Paulie – when Republicans start to whine about this stuff, go to their leaders and say “hey, why don’t you fund a mailer to liberals touting our candidate as the anti-war, pro-civil liberties alternative to Democrat X.”

    As for these mailings, as long as they spell our names right, huh?

  10. Best We Can Do? [Lake]

    As a black independent*, I see the independent movement getting browner and young people getting more politically independent everyday.

    The trend towards political independence is an important one and increasingly popular within communities of color.

    Called “decline to state” in California, independents have been the fastest growing segment of the electorate for the past 10 years.

    Much of that growth has occurred in communities of color – particularly among Latino’s and Asians.

    The overall trend towards Black political independence is becoming very significant as well. Here’s one national statistic of interest.

    In 1997, 14.8% of African Americans identified themselves as independents. By 2005, the national percentage had risen to 25.9%. Among younger Blacks age 18 – 28, surveys show the rate rising to 30% and beyond.

    When he was member of the California State Assembly Abel Maldonado proved his independence by making the radical move to place Proposition 14 on the ballot.

    He went against the parties, including his own Republican party, to stand up for the people of California.

    I’m voting for Abel Maldonado for Lt. Governor because of that and because our young people deserve to be heard.

    * [Lake: I see a Democratic Party Mole! In the larger message, each and every candidate she endorsed was a (D)!]

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