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Government, Politics & Issues

Thanks to Dine and others, Missouri Libertarian Party set vote-getting records

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 9, 2012 - When is garnering only 6.1 percent of the vote a stunning victory?

When you are Libertarian candidate Jonathan Dine, who broke his party’s Missouri vote-getting record on Tuesday when he won 164,991 votes in the state’s hotly contested battle for the U.S. Senate.

Some Republicans contend that Dine siphoned off potential GOP votes from Republican Todd Akin, who lost badly to U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo. But as it turned out, Akin would have lost badly even if all of Dine’s votes had gone to Akin instead.

In any case, the Missouri Libertarian Party says that Dine was part of a record-setting ticket in Missouri. It’s even proud of the negative attacks from the Akin campaign during the waning days before the election because the attention made clear that Dine – and his party – mattered.

The performance of Dine and several other candidates also ensures that the Libertarian Party will continue to have automatic access to Missouri ballots.

“Despite minimal funding and media, and debate exclusions, the Libertarian Party nationally and in Missouri shattered several of its previous records Tuesday,” the party said in a statement. Its presidential ticket of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Judge Jim Gray “garnered over 1.1 million votes” nationwide. In Missouri, the team collected only 43,029 votes – but that still set a record in the state for a Libertarian presidential ticket. It was four times the number of votes that the Libertarian ticket received in Missouri in 2008.

“The party ran candidates for all six statewide races, all congressional races and a number of lower level races,” it said in a statement. “The party broke its previous records in four of the six statewide races, including U.S. Senate, governor, lt. governor and secretary of state.”

Aside from Dine, the party noted that “Sean O'Toole, the candidate for treasurer garnered 108,780 votes for 4.1 percent, the party's second-best showing for that particular race.”

Referring to Akin's attacks in a radio ad and robocalls,“It shows we've become a factor in Missouri politics,” said Jim Higgins, the party's candidate for governor and a former state Libertarian Party chairman.

“In the federal and statewide races, a total of 665,616 votes were cast for Libertarians,” the party’s released noted.

"I used to think that the number of votes cast for Libertarians was a measure of our discontent as a nation," said the party's current chair, Cisse Spragins, "but I now realize it's a measure of our courage."

She added that her pleasure with her party’s performance didn’t mean she was happy with Tuesday’s results. "Discontent is high; congressional approval ratings are in the toilet, yet virtually everyone was re-elected,” Spragins said.

“And yet while millions of alleged fiscal conservatives wasted their votes on Romney and millions of alleged anti-war, pro-civil liberties voters wasted their votes on Obama, over a million people were willing to step up and vote their conscience for Gary Johnson, and millions more cast Libertarian votes down ticket. That gives me hope. I'm really proud of our candidates and our voters."

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