There are a number of steps involved in forming a new political party. The steps that created the Libertarian Party of Minnesota were not all done by a single group of people working together. After decades have passed, it is difficult to pull together those various steps, who did them, and to determine which steps actually constitute the founding of the LP of MN. Hopefully, this account will give credit to whom it is due without being overly-concerned about details.
It’s clear that the impetus behind the start of our state party, in 1972, was that the Libertarian Party had just been started on the national level, and it was trying to run Dr. John Hospers, a philosophy professor from California and close associate of Ayn Rand, for President of the United States. That news interested a number of Minnesotans, and caused several independent conversations about forming a State LP party branch.
Charles Brekke and Steve Richardson wrote a letter to the Libertarian Party, in Colorado, requesting a charter for a state group. Meanwhile, Frank Haws and Rich Kleinow were discussing the same idea from an organizational aspect, with an eye toward getting Hospers on the ballot in Minnesota. Soon, a plan was being developed by the combined group.
Frank Haws and some of the others who were interested in forming this party, knew Ed Contoski as one of the original sponsors of the early lectures on objectivism, and thought that he would be best suited for the role of State Chairman. Charles Brekke volunteered to be secretary and do as much of the detail work as possible, and Ed was convinced to become party Chair.
The first real meeting was held at the home of Charles and Georgiena Brekke, at 4821 Lyndale Avenue South, Minneapolis.
At that meeting Ed Contoski was elected the first state chairman. Rich Kleinow was elected vice chairman, Charles Brekke secretary, and Claudia Jenson treasurer. Others at the meeting were Frank Haws, Jack and Jane Buxell, Marc and Arnette Putman, and Georgiena Brekke. Charles Brekke had contacted the Minnesota Secretary of State’s office and learned that to be officially recognized as a political party in Minnesota it was necessary to have ten members. The eleven original signers of that charter, in alphabetic order, were:
- Charles Brekke
- Georgiena Brekke
- Jack Buxell
- Jane Buxell
- Ed Contoski
- Rich Kleinow
- Franklin Haws
- Claudia Jensen
- Arnette Putman
- Marc Putman
- Stephen Richardson
These original eleven people were the founders of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and comprised the Executive Committee.
During the early years, those who decided to form the Libertarian party, both nationally and in Minnesota, were criticized by others in the objectivist movement, and by Ayn Rand herself. Clearly, these were people who wanted to put their beliefs into action. for that we are in debt to their courage and persistence.
In 1974, Rich Kleinow and Claudia Jensen were the first two candidates for the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, on the ballot for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively.
Dale Hemming was the eleventh member of the party, and worked vigorously on behalf of the party in the early years and ran for Congress in 1976 and 1978.
Many early members have moved to other places, and some have become inactive. It should be noted that volunteer work in a young organization often creates “burnout” and “dropout”. This is probably more true in a political party, trying to overcome the significant hurdles created by incumbent parties to stifle any new competition. Even so, many more individuals joined the LP of MN during the next few years, and at this time, there are still many active members with 20 years or more.