‘Don’t be a zombie vote,’ Libertarian leaders urge in upcoming election

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 7 September 2020 at 10:28 am

Party pushes to stay on the ballot in NY

Photos by Tom Rivers: Larry Sharpe, right, was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for governor in 2018. He was back in Albion on Sunday. He is shown introducing Mark Glogowski, a candidate for the 139th State Assembly District. Sharpe has popular social media feeds and he is trying to build up Libertarian Party candidates and county organizations in the state.

ALBION – The Libertarian Party, which is seeing growth in registered enrollment and organized county committees in the state, is in danger of being knocked off the ballot.

The state has allowed ballot positions for political parties if they get at least 50,000 votes for their candidates in gubernatorial or presidential elections.

Duane Whitmer, an accountant from Hamburg, is running for the NY-27th Congressional seat. He said it is critical Libertarians keep their ballot line so people can have more options than the two major parties.

But the rules have been changed and parties now need at least 130,000 votes or 2 percent of the vote in gubernatorial or presidential elections. In New York, if 8 million vote in the upcoming presidential election, political parties would need at least 160,000 votes to stay on the ballot, according to the 2 percent threshold.

“In theory you could only have two options to vote – Republican or Democrat,” said Duane Whitmer, a candidate for the NY-27th Congressional seat. “They’re trying to take away the minority voice in New York.”

Whitmer, an accountant with offices in Hamburg and Franklinville, joined Libertarian candidate for governor Larry Sharpe during at event in Albion on Sunday. Sharpe received about 103,000 votes for governor in 2018, doubling the threshold to keep the Libertarians on the ballot under the old rules.

But 103,000 votes wouldn’t be enough to reach the new standard, which faces a court fight.

Sharpe said he is confident Libertarians can meet the higher threshold, whether it’s 130,000 or more votes. He sees a growing party around the state.

The number of enrolled Libertarians is up from about 7,000 to 20,000 in two years, said Tony D’Orazio, Libertarian Party chairman. The number of organized county committees has also doubled in those two years to about 32 to 34 county organizations. The Orleans County Libertarian Party is led by Chase Tkach, who ran for county legislator in 2019.

Dr. Jo Jorgensen, a senior lecturer in Psychology at Clemson University, is the Libertarain presidential candidate. The state’s travel advisory would require her to self quarantine once she reached NY from South Carolina. That makes it impossible for her to effectively campaign in NY. That’s why Sharpe, a resident of Astoria in New York City, is crisscrossing the state, spreading the Libertarian message.

Tony D’Orazio is the chairman of the Libertarian Party in New York. The Monroe County resident worries new voter thresholds in the state could knock Libertarians off the ballot.

Sharpe said the Libertarian principles are needed in the state and country. The party values personal freedom, without pushing those beliefs on others.

“We have to unite in this country because right now each side is focused on how they can dominate the others,” Sharpe said.

The US has shifted from a nothing of personal freedom to making maintaining order a top priority, he said.

“The Libertarian Party creates a better opportunity for everyone to grow,” Sharpe said. “I want us to be about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Sharpe and Whitmore are critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo leading the state’s response to Covid-19 through a series of executive orders the past six months.

“You cannot allow one man to rule unchecked,” Whitmer said. “That’s not what this country was founded on.”

The governor is closing down bars and restaurants in New York City at establishments that violate social distancing, crowd size restrictions and wearing of masks. Sharpe said the Covid-19 crackdown is decimating many small businesses.

He believes it would be better to let consumers decide who stays open. Businesses that adhere to all the guidelines should be given a stamp from the government that they are in compliance. Those that don’t follow the rules shouldn’t get a stamp but consumers should be allowed to enter those sites on their own volition.

“Consumers would have decided which businesses survive and who fails – not government,” Sharpe said.

Larry Sharpe has stopped at every county in the state the past two years, trying to build up the Libertarian Party. He is speaking at the Albion Sportsmen’s Association on Keitel Road. After Albion, Sharpe had events in Lewiston and Mayville.

Whitmer, in his job as an accountant for small businesses, sees how many of the stimulus checks and government programs have gone to bigger companies “with scraps to people.”

He also was critical of the extended backlog in the state’s unemployment system with the pandemic, when many people waited two months of more to get their first unemployment check.

“Let’s put real adults in the room to solve problems,” Whitmer said.

He sees a trail of politicians knocked out of office for wrongdoing. Chris Collins, who held the seat until resigning on Sept. 30, 2019, is awaiting sentencing to prison on insider trading charges.

“The people we are putting in power are unable to run their own lives and we’re electing them to run our lives,” he said.

Whitmer urged people to open their minds beyond the major parties of Republican and Democrat. Many of those voters have kept party loyalty for decades, regardless of the candidates.

“Don’t be a zombie vote,” he said those voters who won’t buck the party line.

Whitmore said too many voters also “idolize” the candidates, who he said are just people who should be focused on serving others.

He sees increasingly polarization in the country.

“People want to vote of Biden because they hate Trump supporters,” he said. “People want to vote for Trump because they hate Biden supporters.”

Mark Glogowski of Hamlin is running for the 139th State Assembly District against Steve Hawley. Glogowski said the state government favors “elite businesses” over most small family-owned operations. He cited a $10 million downtown revitalization program in Batavia and the STAMP site in Genesee County as catering to bigger businesses while producing little or no results for the community.

Sharpe said the third parties are critical to demanding a better government that works for all residents.

“I’m asking you to look at a third party,” Sharpe said. “The Libertarian Party is for people who actually work hard and want accountability in government. The Republicans and Democrats aren’t doing it.”

Whitmer said he has spent $40,000 of his own money to run for Congress. He doesn’t have donors to pay for television advertising and to spread a message around the 8-county district with glossy mailers.

“I am trying to grow this party and build a movement I believe in,” he said.

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