There are many steps involved in forming a new political party. The steps that created the Libertarian Party of Minnesota were not all done by a single person, or even by a single group of people. After several decades, some of them with sparse records, it is difficult to detail all of the various steps, who did them, and when. This account is to our best knowledge the founding of the LP of MN. Hopefully, this account will give credit where due and does not slight anyone if there are omissions or errors.
It’s clear that the impetus behind the start of our state party, which was founded in 1972, evolved from the 1971 founding of the national Libertarian Party. The LP 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 sparked several independent conversations about forming a LP affiliate state party.
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 towards getting Hospers on the ballot in Minnesota. Soon thereafter a full plan got 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 early lectures on objectivism. They thought he would be well suited for the role of State Chairman and convinced him to join. Charles Brekke then volunteered to be secretary and do as much of the detail work as possible for the new organization.
The first official 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 LPMN chair. 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 LPMN had eleven original signers of its initial charter:
- 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 are known as the founders of the Libertarian Party of Minnesota and comprised the first 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, including Ayn Rand herself. Yet these people were determined to turn their beliefs into actions, and we are in debt to their courage and persistence.
In 1974 Rich Kleinow and Claudia Jensen went on to become the first two state candidates for the Libertarian Party of Minnesota, on the ballot for Governor and Lieutenant Governor, respectively.
Dale Hemming became the twelfth member of the group and worked vigorously on behalf of the party in those early years, including runs for US Congress in 1976 and 1978.
Most of the founders have moved on and several have passed away, but their contributions will always be legendary. It should be noted that volunteer work in a young organization can be excruciating, often creating burn-out. This is still true for ‘third’ political parties, trying to overcome the significant hurdles created by incumbent parties to stifle new competition. Even so, the commitment to individual liberty principles, as well as to each other made our founders succeed. Over the years many more individuals joined the LP of MN. Here we are fifty years later having several local elected officials, hundreds of active donor members (many with over 20 years in the party) and tens of thousands of supporting voters in the state of Minnesota.