One of the hardest things about starting a third party in a two party system is that nobody wants to go first. If a libertarian were to get elected running as a Republican or Democrat there is enormous pressure to stay with the party. Defecting isn’t even an option for many elected representatives. When one decides to change their party registration and join the Libertarian Party it’s a big deal. Now, for the first time in its history, the Libertarian Party has an elected State Senator and State Representative.
Earlier this year John Moore, a Nevada State Representative, formally left the Republican Party to become a Libertarian. He had already had a libertarian voting record and was one in all but name. The label is important though because it conveys that libertarians are more than just an ideology but a viable political party as well. Having elected representatives at the state level is a major hurdle that only the Libertarian Party has passed. Moore became the first Libertarian statewide elected official in twenty years. He’ll face reelection as a Libertarian this November.
A few months after this announcement, and shortly before the Libertarian Party National Convention, Nebraska State Senator Laura Ebke left the Republican Party as well. Although the Libertarian Party has had an elected State Representative in New Hampshire in the past, this is the first time they can lay claim to a State Senator. In her statement, Ebke cited her frustration with her Republican colleagues for ignoring civil liberties. Senator Ebke was first elected in 2014 and is currently serving a four year term. She will be up for reelection as a Libertarian in 2018.
These two courageous individuals have risked their seats by switching to the Libertarian Party. The Republican and Democrat parties will not take this lightly and will surely run intense campaigns against these third party insurgents. They do not want other representatives to follow in Moore and Ebke’s wake. Although, with this precedent, the two parties unfavorable nominees, and Gary Johnson polling at 10% nationally, this may be the year that dozens of elected officials switch their party.