Austin Cassidy of Uncovered Politics persuaded the Libertarian Party’s new Chairman, attorney Nicholas Sarwark, to answer some questions for him.
September 30, 2014
Delegates to the 2014 Libertarian Party National Convention in Columbus, Ohio, elected Nicholas Sarwark of Colorado to be the party’s new chair.
Sarwark has been active with the LP since 1999. He has served on committees of the national party, and as Chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland. He was most recently the Vice Chair of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, where he played a key role in recruiting the state’s 42 Libertarian candidates for 2014, as well as supporting the passage of Colorado’s historic marijuana legalization initiative in 2012. He is a deputy public defender and has tried more than 30 cases before a jury and argued in front of the Colorado Supreme Court.
Recently, Mr. Sarwark was kind enough to take time to answer a few of our questions about the 2014 and 2016 elections and where he sees the Libertarian Party heading in the future.
AUSTIN CASSIDY: First off, congratulations on your election as the new Chairman of the Libertarian National Committee. How are you adapting to your new role?
CHAIRMAN SARWARK: Thank you. It’s been exciting to step up to the national stage. I’m spending a lot of time listening to current and former LNC members, trusted friends, and the staff in the national office. While I have served in state party leadership before in Maryland and Colorado, I have not previously served on the Libertarian National Committee before seeking the position of Chair. Seeking input and feedback is one of the ways to learn about areas of the job I don’t know as much about. Thankfully, I have a great LNC with years of experience to draw on. Based on our meeting last week in Alexandria, it’s going to be a productive term.
AUSTIN CASSIDY: Who was the first Libertarian candidate that you ever voted for?
SARWARK: Harry Browne in 2000. I was a delegate from Maryland at the nominating convention in Anaheim that year. I’ve been to every convention since then, but Anaheim was still the most exciting. At least until Orlando in 2016.
AUSTIN CASSIDY: Recently Ann Coulter made a pretty outrageous comment, saying that anyone who planned to vote for a Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate is an idiot and that she would like to drown them. How would you respond to something like that?
SARWARK: As Libertarians get more powerful, washed up performance artists and hacks are going to try to make a name for themselves by attacking us. I see it as a badge of honor. The haters wouldn’t bother to hate unless we scared them. My response is to keep scaring them.
AUSTIN CASSIDY: Running for office is never easy and most Libertarian candidates tend to be political novices. What are some common mistakes you see LP candidates make during their campaigns?
SARWARK: Every candidate who steps up to give voters a real Libertarian choice is a hero. They are the most important people in this party and should be thanked and honored every chance we get.
It’s important when considering a campaign to be honest with yourself about how much effort you are committed to put in and come up with a plan so you meet your own goals. Our candidates are not professional politicians, they’re citizens taking time out of their lives because they care about their communities. They shouldn’t judge themselves by the standard of a professional politician with staff and consultants, but they should judge themselves by their own standards. If a candidate is going to commit to (a) having a basic website, (b) answering any media inquiries, and (c) returning any surveys, then does those things, that’s success. The mistake people make is trying to run a bigger campaign than they are really committed to following through on and then failing to meet the target.
The Libertarian Party has some great resources to help candidates run a more effective campaign. “Who’s Driving” training is a great tool to teach candidates how to better communicate Libertarian solutions to a media that may want to talk about something else. Every candidate or potential candidate should take that training; it’s interactive and offered over the web for free for any Libertarian candidate. Carla Howell, our Political Director, is also putting the finishing touches on “Game-Changing Libertarian Communications,” a guide for candidates in the 2015 and 2016 election cycles. We’re also making the current draft available for any 2014 candidates who would like to use it.