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Sen. Mark Madsen (Utah) switches to Libertarian, endorses Johnson/Weld

Mark Madsen

UPDATE: Utah’s Libertarian Senator Mark Benson Madsen is scheduled to appear on  K-Talk radio at 8PM Eastern (6PM Mountain) TONIGHT (26 July) on the Standup Commentary Talk Radio show to discuss his change from the GOP to the Libertarian Party.

Listen Live HERE.  IPR readers may call into the show @ 801 254 5855 and/or ask questions online HERE.  Those in the Salt Lake City area can find the broadcast @ AM 630 on their radio dial.  The flash player version available at seems to be working best for me.

(The transcript originally posted in the comments below by Krzysztof Lesiak on
July 25, 2016 at 19:18 has also been updated to insert those words that had been indecipherable in the original version.)

25 July 2016, Dateline: Salt Lake City: Reason Magazine reports that State Senator Mark Madsen is switching parties from Republican to Libertarian, in a press conference today at 1:30 MT.

Madsen is the first Libertarian member of a state legislature’s upper chamber. He is being joined at his announcement by the party’s other state Senator, Laura Ebke of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, who also switched to Libertarian earlier this year.

About Post Author

Andy Craig


  1. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson July 26, 2016

    “The Libertarian Party is the first party, other than Dem and Rep, to have state legislators in 3 states simultaneously since 1934, when the Socialists had some in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.” — Richard Winger

    There’s one huge difference, though. The Libertarian legislators in the three states mentioned by Richard (or four, as Austin accurately pointed out) — were elected as major-party candidates, whereas the three Socialists in Wisconsin in 1934, the five Socialist members of the Connecticut legislature, and the two Socialist lawmakers in Pennsylvania — attorney Darlington Hoopes and Lilith M. Wilson, the wife of one of “Fighting Bob” La Follette’s campaign managers in 1924 — were all elected on the Socialist Party ticket.

  2. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson July 26, 2016

    “I assume you bring this up as third party trivia, not as an attempt to smear Sen. Madsen through guilt by association with a segregationist.” — Gene Berkman

    That’s all it was. Hell, my own grandfather — my mother’s father — voted for Wallace that year.

  3. George Whitfield George Whitfield July 26, 2016

    Austin, you are correct. I looked at Abramson’s bio on the New Hampshire General Court website and he is listed with a big “L” as member of the House of Representatives. We seem to being doing well in states that begin with the letter “N”: Nevada, Nebraska and New Hampshire. Let’s hope New Jersey and New York are next!

  4. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 26, 2016

    Knowing Darcy, it’s just trvia, I think.

  5. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman July 26, 2016

    Darcy – the profile of Ezra Taft Benson does mention his support of George Wallace in 1968 and John Schmitz in 1972.

    I assume you bring this up as third party trivia, not as an attempt to smear Sen. Madsen through guilt by association with a segregationist. Madsen was born in 1963, and was likely not involved in the Wallace Campaign at age 5.

    On the other had, Tom Turnipseed of South Carolina was Executive Director of the Wallace Campaign in 1968. This year Tom Turnipseed supported Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democrat Party nomination for President. Again, no guilt by association, since Mr Turnipseed became a civil rights lawyer in the 1970s and long ago turned his back on segregation.

  6. Gene Berkman Gene Berkman July 26, 2016

    Sean – you are correct that all third parties in the past have grown by welcoming defectors from existing parties.
    You mention Lincoln, Seward and “especially someone like Thurlow Weed…”

    In 1971 I was working for Society for Individual Liberty, and attended a Libertarian Conference in Chicago. I met a guy there named Thurlow Weed – he went by his nickname “Tad” – and he was a self-educated libertarian. He kept mentioning his support for “Capitalo-anarchism” – a term he came up with himself. So I told him that everyone else said “anarcho-capitalism” and he took to it right away.

    I found out about the earlier Thurlow Weed many years later, and have no idea if they are related.

  7. robert capozzi robert capozzi July 26, 2016

    ss, I think you are correct. OTOH, the 89 20-something founders of the LP put a lot of booby traps in the foundational docs.

    AJ, both is possible. The LP heretofore has been a power washer, overwhelming the tree of liberty with TOO much water, TOO fast. Perhaps these converts will measure the pressure, allowing the water to trickle into the ground to actually feed the tree. 😉

  8. Andy Andy July 26, 2016

    Are these people here to water the tree of liberty, or are they here to water down the tree of liberty?

  9. Sean Scallon Sean Scallon July 26, 2016

    This is how a “third party” becomes and major party, with fellows from the other team. That’s Republicans did it in 1850s. The GOP would have been just another anti-slavery third party like the Liberty Party or the Free Soil Party if it wasn’t for the prominent Northern Whigs like Lincoln, like Seward and especially someone like Thurlow Weed, who was the Whig Party boss in New York, along with a prominent journalist like Horace Greely, joined the Republicans. No to mention the defections from Democrats Salmon P. Chase. If the Johnson/Weld runs a respectable campaign (especially in comparison to the Trump clown show) then other (more than likely Republicans) will defect and stronger the party becomes then even some Bernie Bros will choose to join it rather than spend a future in a Clinton dominated Democratic Party.

    Yeah, that’s how it’s done. And those who wish to remain purists want to unbury and prop-up the corpse of the Reform Party and pretend its viable vehicle for pure libertarianism, by all means go right ahead. I’m not sure if they’ve paid all their debts from the 1990s off yet, but I’m sure you fellows will be able to take care of them with Pay Pal money bomb, right?

  10. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy July 26, 2016


    Check the NH State House website, they list him as a Libertarian now.

  11. George Phillies George Phillies July 26, 2016

    Langa, The evidence has been put up many times. You are just lying about it.

  12. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 26, 2016

    As far as I know, Abramson has not changed his party affiliation with the legislature. He has only decided to run for Governor as a libertarian. There is a difference.

  13. Austin Cassidy Austin Cassidy July 26, 2016

    It’s four states and four legislators, as far as I am aware…

    Utah – Senator Mark Madsen
    Nebraska – Senator Laura Ebke
    New Hampshire – State Rep. Max Abramson
    Nevada – State Rep. John Moore

  14. langa langa July 26, 2016

    Ianga did you just take a hit off of a bad batch of rot gut?

    I’m just sick of Phillies’ shit. He has accused Ron Paul of being a racist many times before, and each time, I have challenged him to provide even a shred of evidence to back up those claims. Of course, he has never done so, since there is no evidence, but that never keeps him from repeating the same ridiculous crap every time Ron Paul’s name is mentioned. It is long past time for Phillies to either put up or shut up.

  15. Rebel Alliance Rebel Alliance July 26, 2016

    Krzysztof, thanks for the transcript of Madsen’s speech.

    Actually he strikes me as very libertarian. Though obviously a religious man, or maybe pandering a bit to his voting base, he seems to understand the libertarian philosophy of personal and economic freedom and that it means live & let live for all. What separates a libertarian from a theocratic conservative is recognizing religion as a matter of internal guidance and ethics, rather than as “moral values” to be thrust onto others via government. Madsen seems to understand the difference. He used a lot of phrases that I’d identify with a genuine principled libertarian.

    It’s possible for someone to be highly religious and also to be a principled libertarian, and I know quite a few people who are both. Matsen appears to be one of them. No idea on his voting record, but from his speech this looks like a great gain for the LP!

  16. Darcy G Richardson Darcy G Richardson July 26, 2016

    Interesting find, Gene. Ezra Taft Benson, incidentally, was on then-segregationist George Wallace’s short list of possible vice-presidential running mates in 1968, and spoke highly of his third-party candidacy that year.

  17. steve m steve m July 25, 2016

    Ianga did you just take a hit off of a bad batch of rot gut?

  18. langa langa July 25, 2016

    Hey Phillies, how about posting a scanned copy of the letter from Ron Paul that allegedly uses the phrase “brown people”?

    Either that, or you could just shut the fuck up.

  19. George Phillies George Phillies July 25, 2016

    Perhaps as a reward for his tact French Revolutionary should be introduced to the magnificent invention of Doctor Guillotine.

    Contrary to French Revolutionary, Ron Paul was elected as a Republican. The last fundraising letters I saw from him emphasized classic Republican themes, like protecting America from brown people from south* of the border and stopping teh geys from something or other. (*The TV primary ad I saw from him emphasized (ad played in New Hampshire) stopping illegal Hispanics from Canada.)

  20. Joseph Buchman Joseph Buchman July 25, 2016

    His answers to the Q&A about his voting record (Fighting for Medical Cannibals; introducing a bill to prevent law enforcement from removing property owners from their homes even when facing wildfire warnings and the like) were, IMO, quite libertarian. I was present for the announcement and will try to post a transcript of the Q&A and add the indecipherable words that are missing from the speech sometime tomorrow.

    It was a GREAT DAY to be a LIBERTARIAN in Utah. LIBERTARIAN SENATOR Madsen also promised to help raise funds for other Libertarian candidates in Utah and to work generally to advance the cause of Liberty.

    (I should also note that I am the Libertarian Candidate for Utah State Senate 14 this year. LIBERTARIAN SENATOR Madsen’s Senate district (13) is just to the west of mine. There is no Democratic Party candidate.)

  21. Joseph Buchman Joseph Buchman July 25, 2016

    Richard Winger @ July 25, 2016 at 15:23

    When was the last time a political party other than the old R and D parties had more than 3?

  22. George Whitfield George Whitfield July 25, 2016

    Great news! We are watching history in the making. Thank you to Richard Winger for bringing this event into historical context.

  23. Andy Andy July 25, 2016

    How libertarian is this guy’s record in the legislature?

  24. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 25, 2016

    “As it currently stands, Giant Meteor of Death is currently giving TeamGov a run for the money.”

    And yet ‘Giant Meteor of Death’ isn’t on the ballot anywhere, which means Gary will be getting a ton of those supporters ;3

  25. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 25, 2016

    LDS Madsen and the stalwarts of the CP are like apples and rotten oranges.
    No comparison there.

  26. langa langa July 25, 2016

    There’s a lot of Bible-thumping in that speech. I wonder if Andy Craig, Cody Quirk, and all the other Gary Groupies will label this guy as a theocrat, as they have done to Darrell Castle. I’m not holding my breath.

  27. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 25, 2016

    Amen to that; the LDS Church is probably the most libertarian-oriented Christian denomination out there.

  28. Thane Eichenauer Thane Eichenauer July 25, 2016

    I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints but I have read enough about them to see how the Madsen speech above is a Libertarian speech shaped by the teachings of that church.

  29. Steven Wilson Steven Wilson July 25, 2016

    Time will tell if these “defectors” are running to something or running away from something. If Donald Trump is the persona of the current Republican Party, the duration of the defections could last as long as Trump’s presence is promoted. If he loses the Presidential race it might affect the defections raw numbers. If he loses by a large margin I would assume Trump’s time as a Republican candidate will be seen as a phase, and therefore affect the reason for the defections.

    If it is a phase, I can’t imagine these defections lasting. Belief and time spent within a party system can weigh heavy on a decision to leave it permanently.

  30. Krzysztof Lesiak Krzysztof Lesiak July 25, 2016

    (ED NOTE – I have inserted the previously indecipherable words in the original transcription with those found in the printed copy of the speech which was read at the event yesterday. I’ve also reorganized the transcription with the paragraph breaks as found in the original. Joe Buchman)

    Here’s the full transcript of Sen. Madsen’s 6-minute speech. Does it sound libertarian?

    “Good afternoon. Thank all of you for coming. They warned me not to lean on this [podium]. I’m especially grateful and honored to be joined by my legislative colleagues, state legislative colleagues for the states and leaders of the Libertarian Party today.

    My name is Mark Madsen. I’m a state senator, I’m currently serving my 12th year as a Utah state senator representing Senate District 13.

    For three years, or for three terms I should say, I’ve tried to serve Utahans, first by protecting their God-given rights, which the Deceleration of Independence tell us governments are instituted to protect. It is important to me that I stand in the halls of the legislature as a voice for reason and an advocate for principles of individual agency and accountability.

    This principle, the individual as sovereign, formed the basis of our nation’s founding and its assent to an unparalleled greatness in the history of the world.

    The desire to live free and to own one’s life still burns brightly in the hearts of many of us. I would hope all of us. We crave and jealously guard the ability to exercise personal agency in the pursuit of happiness for ourselves and our posterity.

    For many of us there is a spiritual dimension to this belief and understanding. My faith informs me that a loving God created me and each of you for a purpose, which includes a time in this mortal/temporal plain during which we learn and grow by exercising the agency by which our creator, God, endowed us, by making choices each day and learning lessons through the consequences that naturally result. Thereby we learn and grow and become more like our Father in Heaven each time we own our choice and its consequence and apply that knowledge to future choices.

    And for me these principles are more than rhetorical. Many in different political parties speak these principles but few, it seems too few, will embrace the application and policy. The freedom of a mother and father to choose the best education for their children. The ability of one smitten with disease to choose their medical treatment. The freedom to try and fail, the freedom to buy and sell, and fundamentally the right to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor, rather than have them confiscated under threat of force and redistribute to others whom the government determines are entitled to live off the sweat of someone else’s brow, namely yours.

    It is important that these values are passed down to our posterity; yet they have been neglected, then subjected to assault, for generations. Government schools, among others, have conspired to produce citizens illiterate in the subjects of civics and history and programmed to believe that government actually solves problems.

    The fragile nature of liberty has rarely been more apparent than in this election cycle. The ideas of free markets and an individual owning one’s life have fallen behind in capturing the hearts of the electorate. This is not because the ideas are flawed but because our branding has lacked the empathy and compassion that a generation which has lived through wars, recessions and terror craves, and it’s also because in this day and age it’s easier to accept and embrace a message of false promises and government salvation then a message of hard work, risk reward and recognition of the reality that there are no guarantees in life.

    I am convinced that neither of the old major parties effectively embody the values that founded our country, and founded the state of Utah. A Democrat friend of mine, Christian Burridge, one day told me he would be willing to give up the Democrat’s “nanny state” if I would be willing to give up the Republicans’, what he called “daddy state.” And I believe he has reason. In the name of tolerance and compassion, the Democrat Party has embraced a philosophy which often preserves and individual’s right to make a given choice, but wrongly empowers government to step in and deny that individual the consequence of that choice, be it positive or negative.

    The Republican Party all too often promotes policies which deny individuals the freedom to make a choice to begin with. Far too often in Utah and our nation, the platform and the actions of the Republican Party have resulted in a population that is less free. Regulation is no longer just a tool for progressives. Rather, the Republicans and Democrats are different on how they are going to regulate, and how to streamline that regulation, but not on the fundamental question of “should government be involved to begin with?”

    Both parties use the government to pick winners and losers in business, in health care, in the environment and education. In every aspect of life, both parties expand existing programs and create new programs, extend programs, set to sunset, even if the purpose is no longer needed. Divisions among us are extenuated, and our core rights enshrined in our Constitution, rather than being upheld as inviolate, are too often seen as impediments to the desired expansion of the state.

    No party is entitled to my membership and my support. I join a party of my own free will based on how well it reflects my personal principles. I have a right to go where my principles and conscience take me. Today, I announce that I am joining the Libertarian Party and will support the Libertarian presidential ticket of Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.

    I am proud to stand [applause, cheers] thank you. I am proud to stand on the side of liberty, agency, ingenuity and opportunity. Today, as I officially join the Libertarian Party, I want to help my fellow Libertarian legislators in building a movement that shows the compassion and viability of the values that made our nation and our state a reality.

    Thank you.”

    [applause] (end of speech)

    – Sen. Mark Madsen

  31. dL dL July 25, 2016

    “Two percent? Where do you see 2% here, or even a retreat?
    Stay off the psychotropics.”

    2%? 2%? 2%@#$!, hah, hah, he is at 8%, ha hahahaha, get off the meds, loser!!!!!!!

    LOL…talk about losertarianism on meds…(btw, Einstein, you can start chirping about poll numbers when the margin of error doesn’t cut your statistic by 50%).

    Btw, consider improving your reading comprehension. Steady retreat to 2% implies a final destination, as in, that’s where it is heading(charlie brown meet lucy). As it currently stands, Giant Meteor of Death is currently giving TeamGov a run for the money.

  32. Andy Andy July 25, 2016

    If we apply no standards to who is a libertarian and who is not, the word will lose meaning.

  33. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 25, 2016

    Probably a Trump blogger.

  34. Anthony Dlugos Anthony Dlugos July 25, 2016

    whether or not someone is “libertarian enough” is a quite unanswerable question anyway, at least in an objective sense.

    You’re entitled to your opinion, just as I am, but you know what opinions are worth.

  35. Andy Andy July 25, 2016

    Not true. A person does not have to agree with me 100% on everything for me to consider them to be a libertarian.

  36. Tony From Long island Tony From Long island July 25, 2016

    Andy :

    How libertarian is this guy?

    I’m sure that no matter what the answer to that question is, it won’t be enough for you.

  37. Richard Winger Richard Winger July 25, 2016

    The Libertarian Party is the first party, other than Dem and Rep, to have state legislators in 3 states simultaneously since 1934, when the Socialists had some in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.

  38. Trent Hill Trent Hill July 25, 2016

    People said GJ would not do well, that his numbers would be lower and he’d have a lackluster run and have no effect.

    Truth is, 3 defections in a single year is pretty significant. And that’s just counting state legislators. There have been several more officeholders to do so.

    Oh, and Johnson is polling double digits nationally.

  39. Andy Andy July 25, 2016

    How libertarian is this guy?

  40. George Phillies George Phillies July 25, 2016

    Abramson is running for Governor of New Hampshire. As a Libertarian.

  41. Krzysztof Lesiak Krzysztof Lesiak July 25, 2016

    Well, Anthny, the two self-described libertarian congressmen, Thomas Massie and Justin Amash, seem commmitted to advancing their cause through the GOP. Maybe one congress person will endorse Johnson -if they are a moderate in a liberal district or not seeking reelection – but I doubt any will defect to the LP. Honestly, Amash and Massie are the only ones fit for the LP – there’s also Walter Jones, who endorsed Ron Paul in 2008 and 2012 – but he’s somewhat of a paleoconservative – so I don’t know if the LP would be crazy about him.

    Anyway, this is certainly big news. If were one of the LP higher ups, I would be recruiting Montana State Representatives Nick Schwaderer and Daniel Zolnikov (see the IPR post below this one), as well as the NH state representative Max Abramson, to join the LP. Schwaderer and Zolnikov actually fit in ideologically based on their joint press release, and if I’m not mistaken, Abramson received two write-in votes at the LP 2012 presidential convention and has also endorsed Gary Johnson.

    One note that needs to be added: Madsen is retiring at the end of his current term and moving out of the country:

  42. Cody Quirk Cody Quirk July 25, 2016

    Despite pissing off Trump supporters/trolls and butt-hurt libertarian purists online, GJ is really making headway and serious inroads in mainstream politics here; the more regular office-holders endorse him and defect to the LP, the more others that are sitting on the fence will follow 😉

  43. Dave Dave July 25, 2016

    So this is the third defection this year? Not too bad!

  44. Anthony Dlugos Anthony Dlugos July 25, 2016

    We should set up a pool for wagering on who will be the first US Congressperson to defect.

    Amash as the odds-on favorite? Or do you look for an even safer seat out West?

  45. Tony From Long Island Tony From Long Island July 25, 2016

    This is great news. Would be better if a member of the US house did likewise 🙂

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