Libertarian Party of Oklahoma
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|National affiliation||Libertarian Party (United States)|
|Colors||a shade of Blue; Yellow|
The Libertarian Party of Oklahoma is the branch of the Libertarian Party in Oklahoma. It has been active in state politics since the 1970s, but due to what critics characterize as Oklahoma's restrictive ballot access requirements the party has been an "official" party during only portions of the last 25 years.
State party organization
State party chapters and chairs
The party has two local chapters: one in both of Oklahoma's two largest cities (Oklahoma City and Tulsa). The state party's chairman is Tina Kelly. Former state chairs include Steve Long, Seth Wheeler, Clark Duffe, Angelia O'Dell, Jimmy Cook, Steve Galpin, Chris Powell, Richard Prawdzienski, Robert Murphy, D. Frank Robinson, Tom Laurent, Gordon Mobley and Porter Davis. Other state officers are Vice-Chairman Bailey Betz, Treasurer Ron Phillips, and Secretary Christina Wright.
Presidential election performance
The party has had the national party's presidential candidate on the ballot in 1980 (1.2% of the statewide vote was received), 1984 (0.7% of the statewide vote was received), 1988 (0.5% of the statewide vote was received), 1992(as an Independent) (0.3% of the statewide vote was received), 1996 (0.5% of the statewide vote was received), 2000 (0.5% of the statewide vote was received), and 2016.
Oklahoma city restaurateur John Vernon finished second in the balloting for the vice-presidential nomination at the Libertarian National Convention. Running as an Independent, Porter Davis got 36% of the vote for State House in district 85. Davis would later be elected to that office as a Republican in 1982.
The party successfully petitioned for ballot access in the state for the first time and in addition to Ed Clark for president had four candidates for office including Jim Rushing and Frank Robinson who faced each other in the first Libertarian Party primary in Oklahoma. Rushing won with 54% of the vote.
After failing to get the required number of signatures for ballot access, the party sued and was ordered on the ballot for 1984. There were no primaries as the court order stipulated that the party nominate by convention. In addition to David Bergland for president 15 Libertarians ran for office in the state. Agnes Regier received 2.2% of the vote in a three-way race for a Corporation Commission seat, and three state legislature candidates, Alice Cody, Paul Woodward, and Robert Chambers, finished with vote percentages in double-digits.
The Libertarian and Populist parties along with the Rainbow Coalition sought to have Oklahoma's restrictive ballot access law overturned, but the 10th Circuit ruled against them. Nevertheless, the LP was able to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot, with Ron Paul personally submitted the petition. Paul received 6,261 votes, more than twice the total of Lenora Fulani of the New Alliance Party who was the other alternative presidential candidate on the ballot in Oklahoma.
After getting Andre Marrou on the ballot in 1992 as an Independent, the party again successfully petitioned to run candidates in 1996. Agnes Regier defeated Michael Clem in a primary for the US Senate nomination and earned 1.2% of the vote in the general election, finishing 4th in a five person race.
Successfully petitioning for ballot access again, fourteen Libertarians ran for office in the state alongside presidential candidate Harry Browne. Richard Prawdzienksi, Roger Bloxham and Whitney Boutin faced off in a primary for a seat on the Corporation Commission, resulting in Bloxham and Boutin heading to a runoff. Despite finishing in first place with almost 42%, Boutin dropped out of the race allowing Bloxham to be nominated. This saved the state over $200,000 for the cost of the runoff election. Bloxham would finish with 1.8% of the vote in the general election. The party ran candidates in all six Congressional races, besting the Democrats who only contested five. State House candidates Steve Galpin and Chris Powell both received double-digit percentages in their races.
Municipal electoral performance
The party has also experienced a fair degree of high vote counts in municipal races in the cities of Bethany, Bartlesville, Norman, Tulsa, and Oklahoma City, as well as other races at the local, state, and national levels. Most recently, libertarian activist Traci Baker received 20.96% of the vote in Norman's 2017 Ward 7 City Council race against incumbent Stephen Tyler Holman.
In 2014 the signature requirement to get a party on the ballot was changed from 5% of the vote for president or governor was lowered from 5% to 3%. On March 21, 2016, the Oklahoma Election Board declared the Libertarian Party to have turned in enough petition signatures to attain ballot status. In another legislative victory, on May 5 Governor Mary Fallin signed legislation reducing the number of votes necessary for a party to retain ballot access from 10% of the presidential or gubernatorial vote to 2.5%. LP presidential candidate Gary Johnson polled as high as 13% in the state.
In addition to Johnson, there were seventeen Libertarian candidates for state or federal office in Oklahoma in 2016. Robert Murphy defeated Dax Ewbank for the U.S. Senate nomination in the only statewide primary for any party on June 28.
The Johnson/Weld ticket received 83,481 votes in Oklahoma, 5.8% of the total, far surpassing previous results for LP presidential candidates and maintaining ballot access for the party for 2018. Robert T. Murphy finished third in a field of five in the U.S. Senate race with 3%. Zachary Knight garnered 6.1% running for CD5 and in CD4 4.3% voted for Sevier White. Of the two Libertarian candidates for state Senate, Frank Grove got over 35% in District 35 while Richard Prawdzienski was favored by 4.5% in District 41. In the state House the OKLP fielded nine candidates, including Steve Long, Gene Bell, Christina Wright, Tamara Morton, Erin Adams, Zac Davis and Dr. Shannon Grimes as wellas Elle Collins, who took over 7% of the vote in District 87 which was won by Collin Walke with a plurality of 48%, and Clarke Duffe, who was supported by 23.5% of the voters in district 39.
The sole LP candidate for a county office in the state was Chris Powell who sought to become the Oklahoma County Clerk. Facing GOP nominee David B. Hooten, Powell received 89,019 votes, 36.4% of the total.
- Green Party of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma Democratic Party
- Oklahoma Republican Party
- Politics of Oklahoma
- Two-party system
- Third parties
- "Petitions filed by Libertarian ballot hopeful". Daily Oklahoman. Oklahoma City, OK. 15 July 1988.