September 14, 2016
Amid the overall attendance record of 1.9 million people attending this year’s Minnesota State Fair, many of those visitors stopped by the LPMN outreach booth. At times, the public’s enthusiasm was overwhelming. Crowds deluged the booth, scarfing up t-shirts, buttons, bumperstickers, and yardsigns, leading to sell-outs on several days. The LPMN set a new sales record, surpassing 2015’s gross revenue.
Over the nearly two-week event, 42 volunteers stepped up to help staff the booth, some for multiple days. Many who volunteered for the first time found it to be a rewarding experience, introducing the libertarian philosophy to the public and raising awareness of the party and its candidates. Additional volunteers assisted at our second presence at the Fair: the Johnson/Weld booth outside the main gate on Snelling Avenue.
Fairgoers met several Libertarian candidates running for office. Jay Nygard of Orono, running for State Senate District 33, came to the Fair to meet the public. As did Shane Wernsing of St Peter, running for State Senate District 19; Joe Weverka of St Paul, running for State House District 67B; and Brian McCormick of Coon Rapids, running for State House District 37A. Also meeting the public were Mary O’Connor, running for Hennepin County Commissioner; and Cara Schulz, running for Burnsville City Council.
The LPMN’s outreach obtained significant media coverage. MinnPost covered us in their annual review of the various political booths. The Pioneer Press also gave coverage, and WCCO gave a brief mention. TPT’s Almanac program also highlighted the public’s strong interest in alternative parties (segment starts at 15:30min, running 8 minutes through the 23:30min mark).
Needless to say, the presidential race dominated many fairgoers’ interest. The Libertarian presidential campaign of Governor Gary Johnson found increasing support as numerous Johnson/Weld yardsigns were distributed and Johnson/Weld t-shirts nearly sold out. In one instance among many, a first time visitor unhappy with the two old party nominees said, “I’ve just decided who I’m voting for” upon finding our booth.
LPMN Chair Chris Dock remarked, “In past years, 10% of booth visitors were familiar with the Libertarian Party and our candidates, and 90% were visiting us with little to no familiarity with our party or our principles. At the 2016 Minnesota State Fair, that ratio was reversed — 90% of booth visitors knew about the Libertarian Party and Gary Johnson, and were seeking us out to thank us for providing a sane option on the ballot for president.”
One of the most often-asked questions was, “Will Gary Johnson get into the Debates?” Many were already aware of the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) who’ve sought exclude any competitors. The CPD, controlled by operatives of the Democratic and Republican parties, has smothered political competition for over 20 years. The CPD has allowed only their own candidates from the two old parties to be shown on TV, imposing an arbitrary 15% polling threshold on any alternative candidates, a level nearly impossible to reach before debating, except by a billionaire. Many fairgoers were also aware that by gaining 5% of the vote in Minnesota, Libertarians would gain a seat at the table in Minnesota politics and an opportunity to present solidly pro-liberty ideas to the public for the first time.
LPMN Vice Chair S.L. Malleck added, “This level of interest is what we’ve all been waiting for! But those dissatisfied with the two old parties shouldn’t just look to lodge a protest vote. By supporting the Libertarian Party and greatly expanding personal and economic freedom, every individual is going to see new choices and opportunities that they’d never imagined possible under the obsolete two-party system.”
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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