• The Liberty Block

NH Libertarians Training Serious 2018 Candidates; Ready to Win in November

With two days remaining before the candidate filing period opens for the November elections, a few candidates and volunteers of the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire (LPNH) held a meeting in Manchester on June 3rd to discuss campaign priorities and strategies. The group of around 20 Libertarian activists ranged from recent high school graduates to professionals and seasoned political activists and exceeded the capacity of the diner’s average-sized meeting room.

In addition to the experienced Libertarian candidates, there were a number of political newcomers who attended the event to learn as much as they could about running for office. Four Libertarians who attended the Sunday afternoon meeting plan to file and run competitive campaigns, hoping to join Reps. Dyer and Phinney in Concord next year.

Brian Shields, who earned 7.6% of the vote in last year’s Strafford County District 13 special election was recently elected vice chair of LPNH. Shields spoke about his experiences and what he learned during his campaign. He plans to run for the same seat again this year. Perennial Libertarian candidate and small business owner Lisa Wilber was also in attendance. Wilber hopes to mount a successful challenge to Rep. Neal Kurk (R-Weare), chair of the House Finance Committee, in Hillsborough County’s 2nd district and pick up a seat for the Libertarians. Keith Cobbett, an IT professional plans to run for State Representative in Hillsborough County’s 1st district. ​Spencer Dias is a recent high school graduate and is running for State Representative for Hillsborough County’s 7th district (Bedford).

Also in attendance was Rep. Caleb Dyer (L-Pelham), who will seek reelection in November. Dyer, the newly elected secretary of the LPNH, spoke about his experiences campaigning in 2016 and gave the new candidates valuable advice and realistic expectations. In his first term, Rep. Dyer sponsored legislation to legalize cannabis and reduce criminal penalties for other controlled drugs, allow for voters to select more than one candidate per office on the ballot, and allow for voters to register as members of minor political parties without ballot access. Ultimately, only one of Rep. Dyer’s bills was passed by the House, and none of his bills passed into law.

Moe Egan, recently appointed communications director for the LPNH was one of the speakers. Drawing from her years of experience as a press secretary and staffer for several political campaigns (including Gary Johnson’s 2016 presidential campaign) and talk radio host, Egan gave the candidates and volunteers advice for messaging to potential voters and interacting with the media.

Brandon Phinney is a Libertarian currently serving in the NH House, though he was unable to attend the meeting. In his first term, Rep. Phinney sponsored and successfully passed a bill which decriminalized the act of consuming alcohol while performing on stage at a venue. (Guitarists who play live shows at bars can now drink beer while on stage without becoming criminals, thanks to this Libertarian Representative) This was accomplished by changing the language of the law from referring to these performers as ‘employees’ of the venue to ‘private contractors’.

Justin O’Donnell, Libertarian candidate for U.S. Congress and member of the Libertarian National Committee attended the meeting and provided the new candidates with some words of advice and inspiration.

Also present was Libertarian candidate for governor, Jilletta Jarvis. A lifelong NH resident, Jarvis also brings substantial experience to her gubernatorial bid, working as an accountant and small business consultant. Jarvis has been planning to run for governor as a Libertarian for a while, but she may end up facing a serious primary opponent who has impressive name recognition in New Hampshire, especially in the political arena. Motivated by Governor Sununu’s unexpected support for Medicaid expansion (and a convoluted practice of patching budgetary holes with federal funds which he refers to as ‘Mediscam’) and the NH House Republicans’ decreasing support of freedom, Aaron Day has been flirting with the idea of challenging Sununu for the position of Governor.

Both candidates seem to have experience in healthcare and insurance, and both seemingly want to reduce government interference in the healthcare market as much as possible. The gubernatorial primary in the Libertarian Party between Day and Jarvis alone could garner valuable media attention this campaign season, which could give a boost to down-ballot candidates as well.

Augmented by the ever-increasing frustration for the two major parties which control New Hampshire, Libertarians could pick up a few seats in the State House this November. Each day, more New Hampshire voters realize that the Republicans they’ve elected no longer support minimal taxes and responsible spending. Democratic voters may be realizing that Libertarians support civil liberties much more consistently than their elected Democrats, who seem to be straying further from their traditional ‘liberal’ ways each year. The perpetual decline of honest, principled, freedom in the ethos of New Hampshire’s elected officials may cost the worst offenders their seats before years’ end.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views held by The Liberty Block or any of its contributors or members.

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