It’s a very real possibility that North Dakota Democrats could leave one or more of the statewide races uncontested. As in, they may not be able to find candidates to run in those races.
So here’s a question: What could that mean for the state’s Libertarians?
The North Dakota Libertarian Party has been gaining some ground in recent cycles, relatively speaking. They got automatic ballot access in this political cycle because their statewide candidate for Secretary of State got more than 5 percent of the vote. According to the Associated Press, this is the first time in at least 20 years that a political party other than the Republicans or Democrats got automatic ballot access in North Dakota.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]What happens if the only candidates in some of these statewide races are a Republican and a Libertarian because Democrats couldn’t find a candidate?[/mks_pullquote]
If you’re curious, in order for political parties to be officially recognized and get automatic ballot access (meaning they don’t have to collect petition signatures) they have to get at least 5 percent of the vote in certain races in the previous election cycle. In 2014 it was the Attorney General and Secretary of State races. In 2016 it’s the Governor and presidential races.
Anyway, the Libertarians endorsed most of their candidates for 2016 back in November. They have candidates so far for every statewide race except for Governor and Treasurer. They’ve also endorsed candidates for the U.S. House and Senate.
(Bizarrely, the LP endorsed a Lt. Governor candidate but no Governor candidate, which is strange because it’s like a party endorsing a candidate for Vice President but not President. There was a rumor going around that they were leaving the spot open in case Republican gubernatorial candidate Rick Becker fails to get the NDGOP endorsement, but Becker has dismissed that idea).
So here’s my question: What happens if the only candidates in some of these statewide races are a Republican and a Libertarian because Democrats couldn’t find a candidate?
That could lead to some very interesting voting decisions. It’s a real opportunity for the Libertarians. I don’t think they could win one of these races, but what if one of their candidates got like a third of the vote?
That would be a big deal.
I suspect the Democrats will eventually twist enough arms hard enough, for long enough, to get some candidates into these races. But if there are open races on the ballot, expect the Libertarians to take advantage.