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Is the Libertarian Party Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

• https://reason.com

Last Friday, after a lengthy ballot count, Libertarian Jeff Hewitt was declared the winner of one of five officially nonpartisan seats on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, giving him one of the largest constituent bases of any elected Libertarian in the party's 47-year history. On Saturday in this space, we posted a far less upbeat assessment of the L.P.'s current electoral situation, which I wrote the day after the 2018 midterms.

So is the party zigging or zagging? As ever, it depends on who you ask, and the answer may well be "both."

In a teleconference with party activists before the Hewitt announcement last week, Libertarian National Committee Chair Nicholas Sarwark laid out the numerical case for optimism.

"We ran 833 candidates for public office in 2018 in the November elections. We ended up with 52 [now 53] elected Libertarians….That's an increase from the last general election year 2016, where we only elected 34 people," said Sarwark, who finished in fourth and last place in November's Phoenix mayoral race, receiving 10.5 percent of the vote. "In 2016, the Libertarian Party ran 593 candidates around the country….2017's our last odd-numbered year; we ran 135 candidates for both state and local races, but of those, we ended up electing 48. So we do significantly better in these odd-year elections when the old parties aren't paying as much attention. And it gives us a chance to further hone those skills and strategies so that when we go into 2020, we're ready to have a record-setting number of candidates for a presidential year, and have more of them be more successful."

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