From the Libertarian Party of Ohio:
As a political party, the Libertarian Party of Ohio exists primarily to run candidates for office – and hopefully in time, see them win. But not every day is Election Day, and sometimes, the opposition does whatever it can to prevent us from fielding our candidates. On those days, it’s good to have other ways to affect the public policy debate.
One of the most familiar faces down at the Statehouse these days is Libertarian Party of Ohio Political Director Bob Bridges. Bridges is frequently called upon to testify before legislative committees considering new pieces of legislation. Sometimes, he’s representing the party on issues like ballot access. Other times, when the LPO doesn’t have a dog in a particular fight, Bridges may be representing a private lobbying client, or just speaking for himself.
Every time he appears, the LPO benefits, whether he’s speaking for the party or not, because each appearance strengthens Bridges’ reputation with legislators, making him one of the “go-to” guys when an appropriate issue presents itself.
One recent example was HB382, a bad bill which Bridges, and the Libertarian Party of Ohio, opposed. The bill proposed burdensome new regulations governing how towing drivers operate and creates a new, and in Libertarian judgment, unnecessary, commission to oversee the industry. Bridges’ Libertarian principles dovetailed perfectly with his lifelong experience as a tow truck operator to make him an authoritative voice on the subject.
Bridges’ testimony made very clear that he opposed the specifics in the bill which increased overregulation, while offering an idea for improving the provisions regarding towing operators removing improperly parked cars from private property.
You can’t win them all, and Bridges didn’t win this one. The bill eventually passed with many of the features the party opposed still intact. His suggestion, however, led to the inclusion of a new provision called “the Bridges Amendment.” He was further recognized with an invitation to be present for the ceremony when Gov. John Kasich signed the bill.
In politics, familiarity often breeds respect. By having a continuing presence at the Statehouse, and testifying, even in a losing cause, Bridges keeps the party in the eyes of key lawmakers of both establishment parties. He builds bridges between the LPO and lawmakers which can be very valuable when the governor or other state officials make new moves to restrict the party’s activities and limit the free choice of Ohio’s voters.
Even when not running candidates, the LPO stays active, testifying in Columbus, as Bob Bridges has, speaking before public meetings and groups, and publishing op-ed pieces or letters to the editor. These activities help the party keep its hand in, and also raise the party’s profile for the next time Libertarian candidates do appear on the ballot.