The Libertarian Party of Minnesota set a new attendance record as over 170 members, supporters, and curious newcomers came to the 2016 LPMN State Convention over the weekend. It topped the previous record of 150 set in 2015. This came in spite of some heady competition: the first warm weekend in the mid-70s after a long winter. It was the fifth consecutive year of rising convention turnout and growing interest in the libertarian message.
A highlight was the presidential candidates forum which filled the convention hall to near capacity. Libertarian presidential candidates Gary Johnson and Shawna Sterling addressed the crowd and took questions from Minnesotans in an hour-long event.
The convention received local media attention. Julia Erynn of Alpha News reported on the visit by the presidential candidates (see video). In addition, Alpha News published a recap of the forum featuring remarks by Gary Johnson and Shawna Sterling.
Well-reputed political reporter Cyndy Brucato of MinnPost also interviewed Gary Johnson at the convention.
The candidates were glad to have visited Minnesota. Shawna Sterling said, “The LPMN Convention was one of the coolest events I have attended during my campaign for the LP presidential nomination. I loved being able to debate former Governor Gary Johnson one-on-one! The audience was full of smiles and support and it just made me proud to be a Libertarian!”
Gary Johnson responded similarly, “The event was really well run! It was fun!” Tom Mahon, an aide to Johnson’s campaign, elaborated further, “I was overwhelmed by the genuine outpouring of support expressed towards Gary during our short time there. From the hard work of Cara Schulz that resulted in a steady stream of requests for Gary to meet with conventioneers and local media, to the young family of three who gracefully ‘crashed’ a private donor breakfast with Gary on a hunch about the location in order to get a picture with him; the demand to see Gary was unprecedented when compared to other states. The presidential forum was masterfully organized and managed. The only issue that bothered me upon departure was that we did not have enough time to properly engage with more people. As I said to Gary during the drive to Wisconsin [to attend LPWI’s state convention later that day], ‘If we secure the nomination we’re gonna have to spend some time in the North Country’. ‘You betcha’, was his response.”
Shortly before his visit, Johnson had been featured on the Up & At ‘Em program (starting at the 20min mark) on AM1130 Twin Cities News Talk.
But so much more happened besides appearances by the Libertarian presidential candidates. Keynote speaker Avens O’Brien, popular among many in the millennial generation, spoke about her experiences growing up in a household of Libertarian parents. The second keynote, Davi Barker, well-known in the liberty movement and speaking at his first-ever Libertarian state convention, discussed the psychology of authoritarianism and power. Minnesota’s own Joe McKenzie and Tylor Slinger presented a first pass of their segment “Don’t Tell, Ask” in a lead-up to what will be their presentation at the National Libertarian Party convention in Orlando, Florida in May.
The convention was action-packed with numerous speakers, workshops, and debates over the afternoon and evening, with two afterparties closing out the night.
Cara Schulz, the LPMN Convention Committee Chair, remarked “Not only was it exciting to see so many people attending the convention, but there were so many new people. In talking with first time attendees, there were as many disaffected Democrats as there were recovering Republicans, and they were both happy with the consistent, positive discussions of individual rights.”
Those who came expressed how much they enjoyed the LPMN State Convention, with many coming to a political convention for the very first time. “It felt inclusive and the attendees were very open and kind. I was pleasantly surprised by Shawna Sterling,” said Jennifer Osborne. She added, “I have never been to a convention and had people say, ‘Thank you for speaking up, I may not have agreed with you, but I like that you spoke up, can I give you a hug’. That was really cool.”
Victoria Tankersley, one of the introductory speakers, said “I loved it. I felt welcomed and supported, but also challenged. I really enjoy the openness with which we could both agree and disagree. Truly an open-minded group of people working toward liberty!”
In remarking on her experience, Joan Hurley added, “First time attendee. Felt very welcome and truly learned a lot.”
The day’s workshops offered choices of Political, Issue, and Agorist tracks. Justin Kopetsky remarked, “I spent most of my time on the agorist track. As an agorist, it was the natural place to be and a great opportunity to talk about that lifestyle with other attendees that may not have heard of Konkin. I’m very thankful for the opportunity to be welcomed and to feel welcome at this event.”
Mary Haberman added, “First time attendee. I was pleasantly surprised to hear realistic ways to promote liberty at every level. People don’t have to run for high profile offices, it’s small time commitments to local offices that make a difference. My favorites: the anarchist vs minarchist debate and Robert Baril comedian.”
LPMN members attending as state delegates also rolled up their sleeves to conduct party business. During the morning business session, delegates voted to approve the nominations of Steve Zilberg for State Senate District 14 (St Cloud), Shane Wernsing for State Senate District 19 (St Peter), Jay Nygard for State Senate District 33 (Orono), Brian McCormick for State House District 37A (Coon Rapids), David Holsinger for State House District 57B (Apple Valley), and Joe Weverka for State House District 67B (East St Paul) as Libertarian candidates for state legislature. The nominees will still need to collect at least 500 petition signatures each between May 17 and May 31 in order to appear on the ballot.
Upholding a provision previously enacted by state delegates in 2015 known as Bylaw 8.7, all six candidates pledged that, if elected, they would refuse to caucus with or otherwise permanently align with either the Democratic and Republican parties and would instead seek to create their own new caucus of anti-establishment legislators.
Other prospective candidates for state legislature or local offices may still approach the LPMN Executive Committee or their regional LPMN affiliate to become nominated if they wish to run as a Libertarian.
In addition, state delegates approved bylaws changes affirming that LPMN members are also voting members of the regional affiliate where they reside, clarified how national delegates are to be selected, and in a proposal offered from the floor, changed the election cycle of state party officers and executives from two-year to one-year terms. No platform revisions were proposed; the LPMN’s platform remains unchanged since 2012. The delegates also approved national delegates to represent Minnesota at the National Libertarian Party’s convention in Orlando to be held over Memorial Day weekend.
More photos from the convention can be seen here.
Concerned about the expansion of government control and the erosion of individual liberty? Please consider joining and becoming active with the Libertarian Party of Minnesota. Libertarians support liberty on all issues, all the time! Libertarianism is a philosophical and political movement to promote personal freedom, strong civil liberties, a genuinely free marketplace, and peace.
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