Ohio Lands at Least One National Political Party Convention: Libertarians

The national Libertarian Party chose Columbus for its 2014 convention.
The national Libertarian Party chose Columbus for its 2014 convention.
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Kevin Knedler is the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Ohio, and the party's candidate for Secretary of State.

He said more than 600 people are registered for the Libertarian Party's 2014 convention in Columbus, where they'll hang out, network and attend sessions on setting up websites, following federal regulations, using social media and organizing on college campuses.

"It is the first national political convention in Columbus," he said.

Charlie Earl will welcome the delegates, but not as the Libertarian Party of Ohio's candidate for governor, since he was disqualified for the ballot in March. But Earl said not being a candidate isn't important here.

"The whole issue right now is is the state of Ohio, through its elected representatives, gonna give people choices and voices, whether it's Charlie Earl or anybody else," Earl said. "The Constitution Party is not on because of their gamesmanship."

Earl is still hoping a court ruling will put him back in the governor's race.

When asked whether the Libertarian Party of Ohio's struggles to get onto the ballot mirror problems around the country, Knedler admitted he was frustrated in hearing about how easy it is for parties to get on the ballot in states such as Mississippi and Florida.

"I heard these things and I asked myself, if these states seem to be able to manage multiple parties on the ballot, what is it with Ohio that we can't seem to manage more than two?" Knedler said.

Among the attendees are candidates from across the country and the state. That includes Greg Norris, who's running for state representative in the Findlay area, in the very Republican district now represented by Robert Sprague. He admits it's a long shot that he'd get elected.

"I'm a caucus of one. I could be in a broom closet," Norris said. He said he'd "probably be a thorn in everybody's side. Honestly, I'll caucus on both sides."

The delegates will also decide on the party's national platform and will elect their national committee members. Among those up for re-election is Libertarian Party chair Geoffrey Neale. He said those who view Libertarians as outsiders and losers don't know that they've been ahead of the major parties on gay rights, marijuana legalization and other issues.

"We seem like outcasts and strange-thinking people because we're visionary," Neale said. "We're like the abolitionists in the 1800s saying we've got to end slavery. We're like the suffragettes in 1870 saying women should be able to vote. We're the visionaries of where we believe that the world is going."

The Libertarian Party claims it's the only nationally organized party to see double-digit membership increases in the last two years, with 11 percent more registered Libertarians now than in 2012. But only 30 states and the District of Columbia allow voters to register with a party affiliation, and the total of registered Libertarians in the US numbers more than 368,000.

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