Ruth Bennett

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Ruth Bennett is Vice-Chair of Outright Libertarians and was formerly chair of the Libertarian Party of Washington and the Libertarian Party of Colorado.

Raised in Longview, Washington, Bennett majored in anthropology at Washington State University, graduating in 1975.[1] She discovered libertarianism after moving to Colorado. In 1979-80, she worked on the campaign of the Libertarian Party's candidate for U.S. president, Ed Clark. She supported the transfer of land owned by the federal government to private ownership.[2] In the 1980s, she chaired the Libertarian Party and helped organize the party's national convention. She campaigned twice for a seat in the Colorado House of Representatives, winning 4.5% of the vote.[1] In 1984, she was one of the successful plaintiffs in a federal district court case, Baer v. Meyer, that challenged Colorado's election statutes and voter registration procedures. Judge James R. Carrigan ruled, "Viewed in their totality, the Colorado election laws and practices challenged by the plaintiffs affirmatively favor the Democratic and Republican parties while denying other parties the organizational tools and recognition needed to compete effectively for votes."[3]

In 2000, Bennett, then working as a travel agent, was the Libertarian nominee for the office of Lieutenant Governor of Washington state. She campaigned on a platform of abolishing the position of Lieutenant Governor. She said: "I want to abolish the office. The sooner the better.... In the day and age of jet planes and cell phones and computers, I don't think it matters anymore."[4] She obtained 7.81% of the vote, enough to qualify the Libertarian Party for ballot access in the next election.[1][5] In 2002, she ran for the state House of Representatives in Washington's 37th legislative district, opposing a state income tax while three Democratic candidates favored it in the liberal district.[6]

In 2004, Bennett campaigned for the office of Washington State Governor. She gained access to the ballot only after persuading a state court that changes to the state's primary system had unfairly disadvantaged minority parties.[7] She was open about the fact that she is a lesbian.[8] Her campaign emphasized gay rights and she was the only candidate to support the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state of Washington.[1] After the Democratic candidate Christine Gregoire defeated the Republican Dino Rossi in the final recount by 129 votes,[9] many observers, including the chairs of the Republican Party and the Republican and Democratic gubernatorial campaigns, credited the impact of Bennett's candidacy, which they believed attracted liberal voters who might otherwise have voted Democratic, and not the fiscal conservatives to whom the Libertarian Party normally appealed.[8] She received more than 63,000 votes.[10] Bennett said her purpose in running was to demonstrate her party's potential with liberal voters: "The purpose of my campaign was just to disprove this myth that only conservatives, Republicans, will vote for a Libertarian candidate. I wanted to show that if we have the right candidates and the right issues, we will attract votes from people who consider themselves liberals and Democrats."[8] Bennett received 63,465 votes or 2.26% of the ballots cast. The election abuses discovered the course of multiple recounts in the close race resulted in a reform program for which Bennett claimed credit: "I did a service to the voters of this state by showing the problems."[1]

In 2008, Bennett ran for the state House of Representatives in Washington's 37th legislative district, opposing incumbent Democrat Eric Pettigrew. She lost the election in a landslide, receiving 9% of the votes.[11] She said she ran to demonstrate the problem with Washington's recently established "Top-Two Forward" primary, which established a nonpartisan primary to select the two candidates whose names appear on the general election ballot. She showed that a candidate put forward but a new or minority party could only win a spot on the general election ballot in a district dominated by a single party. Since the 37th District was so heavily Democrat, there were no Republican nominees in the general election.[12]

Also in 2006, Bennett became the President of People's Memorial Association the largest affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance). As President, she presided over the opening of the People's Memorial Funeral Cooperative, overnight the world's largest funeral home cooperative, owned by the members of People's Memorial.

Bennett lives in Arizona where she is the Executive Director of the Funeral Consumer Alliance of Arizona and serves on the National Board of the Funeral Consumers Alliance.


  1. ^ a b c d e Apalategui, Eric (Summer 2005). "Ruth Bennett: A former 'Youth for Nixon' puts a crimp in Christine Gregoire's majority". Washington State Magazine. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  2. ^ Flanders, Laura (2004). Bushwomen: How They Won the White House for Their Man. Verso. pp. 219–20. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "Baer v. Meyer". Google Scholar. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  4. ^ Robin, Joshua (September 4, 2000). "4 try to oust lieutenant governor". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  5. ^ Bernton, Hal (November 9, 2000). "Greens, Libertarians make third-party inroads". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  6. ^ Zebrowski, John (September 12, 2002). "District 37 Democrats support income tax". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  7. ^ "2 Libertarian candidates will be on Nov. 2 ballot". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. September 29, 2004. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Modie, Neil (December 13, 2004). "Libertarian may have helped Rossi, experts agree". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  9. ^ Sanders, Eli (June 7, 2005). "Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Over Washington Election". New York Times. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  10. ^ Maisel, L. Sandy (2007). American Political Parties and Elections: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press. p. 21. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  11. ^ "State election results". Seattle Times. November 5, 2008. Retrieved August 6, 2014.
  12. ^ Raderstrong, Jeff (August 4, 2008). "Third parties say top-two primary hurts their chances". Seattle Times. Retrieved August 6, 2014.

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