Richard Winger at Ballot Access News reports on the strong performance of Libertarian Rex Bell in the recent midterm elections:
On November 2, 2010, Rex Bell, Libertarian nominee for Indiana State House, district 54, polled 20.78% of the vote in a race with both a Democrat and a Republican. That is the first time in at least 85 years that a minor party candidate for the Indiana legislature has polled over 20% of the vote in a race with both major parties.
The 54th district is in east central Indiana, and includes Henry and Wayne Counties, and a small part of Randolph County. Bell lives in Wayne County, where he placed ahead of the Democratic nominee. Bell’s wife, Susan Bell, has been elected as a Libertarian to local partisan office as a Judge, and the Libertarian Party has two other office-holders in that county who were elected in odd-year partisan elections.
Bell has run for this seat three times. The incumbent Republican has been in that seat since 1996. Bell received 14.31% in 2006, running against both a Democrat and a Republican. In 2008, the Democrats didn’t run anyone, and Bell polled 33.49% and carried eight of the 59 precincts in the district. In 2010, Bell rang the doorbells of a majority of voters in the district, and ran radio and newspaper ads. Here is his 2010 web page.
I added the emphasis in bold. With three local office-holders and a strong performance in the state legislative race, it is clear that the local organization of the Libertarian Party in Wayne County is quite strong.
However, the growth does not appear to be localized. One can see a similar situation in Marion County. There, the last county convention showed a ‘three-fold‘ improvement in the financial health of the local organization. In addition, in 2009 the party managed a significant coup with the announcement that at-large Republican Indianapolis City Councilor Ed Coleman was defecting to the Libertarian Party (Coleman is up for re-election in 2011). Coleman, representing over 800,o00 people, is the highest elected official in the Libertarian Party nationwide.
The party showed significant strength on the statewide level as well. Rebecca Sink-Burris, running at the top of the ticket, exhibited the strongest performance among Senate candidates for the LP this year with 5.33% of the vote. She was out-performed by Secretary of State candidate Mike Wherry, whose 100,795 votes was the largest in state party history (for 5.9% of the vote in the race). In addition, of the 15 Libertarian candidates for US House who received over 5% in races with two major party opponents, 3 were from Indiana (one, Chard Reid, was endorsed by the Indianapolis Star).
Finally, the party’s voice is clear within the national organization- the current Vice Chairman of the national Libertarian Party is Mark Rutherford, a former Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana.
While all of this must be kept in perspective (how many local office-holders have Republicans and Democrats elected?), it does illustrate that the LPIN is one of the strongest state affiliates of the Libertarian Party today.