Ohio Watchdog: Libertarian ballot access could affect Ohio governor race

Masthead of the Ohio affiliate of the Watchdog.org website with text 'OHIO' in black next to text 'WATCHDOG' in red, and a drawing of a bulldog between the two words (color graphic)David Jackson, communications director for the Ohio Libertarian Party, was interviewed for Watchdog.org about the party’s newfound ballot access in Ohio and its candidate Travis Irvines possible effect on the close race for governor.

From the article, “Libertarian ballot access could affect Ohio governor race,” by Tyler Arnold (July 19):

The Libertarian Party of Ohio regained ballot access this year, which means its candidates’ names will appear alongside of Republican, Democrat, and Green Party candidates. This could affect the hotly contested race for Ohio governor.

“We feel fantastic that our party has support from all 88 Ohio counties and over 102,000 of our fellow citizens were willing to put their name [in] to support the efforts of liberty and choice for all Ohioans,” Libertarian Party of Ohio Communications Director David Jackson told Watchdog.org.

The Libertarian Party of Ohio passed the signature threshold needed to regain “minor party” status, which allows its candidates to be on the ballot for the first time in four years. The party has more than 20 candidates running for state or national office in Ohio this November.

“It would not take many Libertarian votes to affect the election outcome in a close race,” Ohio State University political science professor Vladimir Kogan told Watchdog.org. One of Kogan’s areas of expertise is state politics.

Republicans are likely to hold onto most U.S. House seats in Ohio while the Senate seat will likely go to the Democrat, analysts predict. However, the governor’s race is closely contested, with polls showing Democrat Richard Cordray ahead of Republican Mike DeWine by just 1.6 percent on average. The Green Party candidate is Constance Gadell-Newton and the Libertarian Party candidate is Travis Irvine.

“Normally, we might expect a Libertarian candidate to pull more votes from a Republican candidate,” Kogan said. “In the current political climate, I think it’s a more difficult prediction, because you’re now giving disaffected Republicans another option.”

Generally, a candidate that expects to lose votes to [an alternative] party will either ignore the candidate or stress that voting for the candidate is a wasted vote, Kogan said. The party that expects to benefit from the candidate, however, is likely to help prop up the candidate, he said.

Cordray’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for DeWine’s campaign ignored questions about the Libertarian Party regaining ballot access, but said “DeWine’s campaign is about strengthening our economy, growing our workforce and ensuring that every Ohio kid has the opportunity to succeed and achieve the American dream.”

Jackson said he does not see the Libertarian Party as a spoiler. Instead, he said the party’s goal is to win elections.

“In doing so,” he said, “we will demonstrate that our candidates represent defense of individuals’ primary rights to life, liberty and property.”

The Libertarian Party currently holds one elected position in Ohio, which is a city council seat. In the country, the party holds four seats in state government and 164 seats in various local offices.

Jackson said the party draws support from individuals who dropped out of the two-party system, which he says has no substantive difference. He said he expects the party to draw support from Democrats, Republicans, and independents.

“As Libertarians, we seek a world of liberty; a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice personal values for the benefit of others through force of government,” Jackson said. “All people have the right to the pursuit of happiness as long as their actions do not infringe on these primary rights of others.”

In 2016, the Libertarian Party of Ohio unsuccessfully sued Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted for ballot access. Husted is currently running for lieutenant governor alongside DeWine. State law says that if a party receives three percent of the vote for either president or governor, the party shall have ballot access for the next four years. Although Libertarian Party candidate for president Gary Johnson received more than three percent of the vote in 2016, he appeared on Ohio ballots as an independent, which Husted said did not result in qualification for the Libertarian Party.

The general election will be held on November 6.

Learn more about Irvine’s campaign at his website: IrvineForOhio.com

Learn more about LP Ohio at its website: LPO.org

Watchdog.org is a project of the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity.