I asked 2016 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Steve Kerbel for his thoughts on the withdrawal of 2020 Libertarian Party presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee. He expressed disappointment about the effect Chafee’s decision might have on the Libertarian Party and its 2020 prospects.
Last month, Kerbel, the former chairman of the Libertarian Party of El Paso County (Colorado) endorsed Chafee, a former Senator and governor of Rhode Island. Kerbel, who steadfastly supported Gary Johnson‘s 2016 presidential campaign after ending his own bid, was fond of Chafee’s experience and issue stances, branding him the “libertarian badass.”
“I have not spoken to [Chafee] to ask why he made this decision,” Kerbel writes via Facebook message, “but I am afraid that the LP will suffer greatly.”
“2020 was going to be a hard enough year to maintain ballot access, with the greater division due to the love/hate of [President] Trump,” continues Kerbel. “Adding in the COVID-19 problem the door to the middle ground is closing even more.”
The coronavirus pandemic has created new hurdles for the party, stalling interest and leaving petitioning for ballot access at a stand still. Furthermore, unlike Chafee and Gary Johnson, none of the current crop of candidates anticipated at the convention have any notable experience serving in government, which Kerbel sees as an impediment to attaining news coverage.
“I am not certain if the eventual nominee will have access to a CNN town hall . . . but Chafee would have had this by default,” he writes. “Not to take away from some fine people competing for this nomination, but in my opinion they cannot break 1% in order to maintain ballot access in many states.”
The other individuals currently seeking the nomination include 1996 Libertarian Vice presidential nominee Jo Jorgensen, Future of Freedom Foundation founder and president Jacob Hornberger, former Libertarian Party Vice Chairman Arvin Vohra, anti-war activist Adam Kokesh, former president of the Grady County (Georgia) NAACP John Monds, and performance artist Vermin Supreme.
Kerbel believes the “momentum” the party built from Johnson’s 3.27% vote total in 2016 may now be “badly reversed” and ballot access lost.
“I wish [Chafee] would re-consider,” laments Kerbel, “but even if he were to re-enter, he would have to be the choice of the delegates who seem to be missing the global point so far.”
Delegates plan to convene May 21-25 in Austin, Texas to select the party’s presidential ticket. This venue may ultimately change due to the coronavirus pandemic.