Groundhog Day Politics II: A Lost Opportunity for the Libertarian Party

Last week I reported on the two-way Libertarian-Republican special election contest to fill a vacant seat in Missouri's House of Representatives. Garnering 22% of the vote, Libertarian Patty Tweedle was easily defeated by Republican Nita Jane Ayres, who was supported by 77% of the voting public. Reportedly, both candidates were quite pleased with the results. From the Springfield News-Leader:
"I'm humbled by the overwhelming support that I have received in this," [Republican] Ayres said. "Now I'm ready to take that next step and start working in Jefferson City and working with others there to start putting the state's economy back on track." . . .

"I'm delighted with the votes that I did get -- 22.2 percent is huge for the Libertarian Party," [Libertarian] Tweedle said. "It shows me that there are many, many people in this district who are ready for another voice."
The "overwhelming support" for the Republican candidate and the "huge" Libertarian vote are overstatements, to say the least. From the same report:
Ayres got 77.8 percent of the vote in the 62nd District special election, defeating Libertarian Patty Tweedle 1,325 to 378. . . . Just 5.8 percent of the 29,013 registered voters in the 62nd District turned out to vote in the election. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, 94% of registered voters did not bother to cast a ballot in the election. If the Libertarians had run even a moderately aggressive campaign and garnered the support of just one out of every twenty registered voters, Tweedle would have easily won the contest. It does not appear, however, that Tweedle was running to win. A week before the election she was quoted in the Branson Tri-Lake News saying: "If I can get the conversation going about liberty and less government involvement in people’s daily lives, then I’ve accomplished something."

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