Earlier this week, Libertarian Mark Victor dropped out of the race for US Senate in Arizona, throwing his support behind Republican Blake Masters. Before dropping out of the race, several polls released in October that included Victor showed him performing significantly enough to cover the margin between Masters and Democrat Mark Kelly.
Word of Victor’s endorsement quickly spread across Libertarian circles and generated significant controversy. Arizona Libertarians on a local and state level were quick to condemn Victor for his actions and what it meant for the state’s tens of thousands of Libertarians.
“The party of principle does not sell out to the highest bidder or kowtow to bullies,” said Arizona Libertarian Party Chair Emily S. Goldberg in an official statement. “Many Libertarians were appropriately concerned at some off-color statements made by candidate Victor early on. Nevertheless, the party gave him credit where credit was due in having obtained the amount of signatures necessary to appear on the ballot. In appearing there, Marc Victor accepted the trust of AZLP’s 40,000 voters, and the independent and party not declared voters who routinely vote with us. His last-minute divert to endorse the GOP’s candidate is a breach of that trust and was not supported by the AZLP.”
A statement from the Maricopa County Libertarian Party echoed the state affiliate’s sentiments. “Arizona Libertarians have waited years for representation on the ballot, and unfortunately, Marc Victor has removed that option from the equation”, a statement released by County Chair Brandon Slayton read. “Forcing Arizonans to continue to wait for a dedicated liberty alternative, who is committed enough to seeing the race through the end on election day.”
The response from Libertarian National Committee members has been mixed, with several members denouncing the action of Victor but preferring to leave it up to Arizona to decide ultimately.
Region 6 Alternate Mark Tuniewicz wrote in an email titled “Unprincipled Libertarian US Senate canddiate [sic] endorses old-party candidate” that the LNC needs to take “swift action.”
“This Committee has been quick to try and remedy other situations […] intervening significantly where we see a wrong done,” Tuniewicz wrote in an email prompting the discussion. “In my view, this is worse than many of those situations. I hope that our leadership is ready to censure, ban, or otherwise condem [sic] Mr. Victor for his betrayal of his supporters and the party in general.”
Other members felt similarly to Tuniewicz that the endorsement was improper but that it wasn’t the place of the LNC to intervene. Referencing an earlier Facebook post, LNC Secretary Caryn Ann Harlos said she’s of the position that it “violates [LNC] bylaws implicitly,” however she will not be signing on to any action. “This is AZ’s business. Is Region 6 calling to interfere in Region 1?”
“The Region 1 Alternate who actually lives in Arizona has asked us in much nicer terms to butt out. And I will respect that. They are handling,” Harlos said in a follow-up response.
LNC Chair Angela also felt it appropriate for the Libertarian National Committee to remain uninvolved and instead focus on the hundreds of other candidates running for office across the country. “We have over 600 candidates who are still working on their campaigns and those people need our attention right now. Stirring up conflict on the public list is not helpful. Reaching out to candidates to see if they need last minute support is helpful. I recommend we focus on that. It’s what I’ve been doing.”
Vice Chair Joshua Smith added that he “won’t be interested in condemning the non violent actions of an individual candidate that [the LNC] did not endorse nor fund.”
Victor will remain on the ballot despite dropping out of the race. His actions are reminiscent of the Green Party candidate in Arizona’s 2018 US Senate election, who would also drop out and endorse the Democrat then-Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, but have their name remain on the ballot. Early voting in Arizona is currently underway.