Timeline of the Libertarian Party

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The History of the Libertarian Party goes back to its founding in 1971.


Libertarian Party is founded December 11th, in the home of David Nolan. Disillusioned Republicans, Democrats and political newcomers hope to create an alternative to the old parties.
First national convention held in June in Denver, Colorado. John Hospers, a philosophy professor at the University of Southern California, is nominated as presidential candidate. LP vice presidential candidate Tonie Nathan becomes the first woman in U.S. history to receive an electoral vote.
National convention in New York City. Roger MacBride is nominated as the LP's presidential candidate, David Bergland as his running mate.
MacBride achieves ballot status in 32 states, and receives over 170,000 votes.
First Libertarians are elected to public office: Elaine Lindsey is elected to the Circleville, Ohio City Council and Norman Betros Jr is elected to the Haldane, New York Board of Education.
Ed Clark receives 5% of the vote in his race for Governor of California.
Dick Randolph of Alaska becomes the first elected Libertarian state legislator.
Presidential nominating convention held in Los Angeles. Ed Clark and David Koch named as presidential and vice presidential candidates.
Permanent ballot status achieved in California as more than 80,000 voters register Libertarian.


Ed Clark appears on the ballot in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam, and receives almost one million votes. His campaign runs extensive national television ads and offers many Americans their first look at what the LP has to offer. Many in the media recognize the LP for the first time as a serious political force.
Dick Randolph is re-elected to Alaska state legislature. Ken Fanning, also running as a Libertarian, is elected to Alaska legislature.

Louisiana congressional candidate James Agnew receives 23% of the vote. Alaska gubernatorial candidate Dick Randolph receives 15% of the vote. Arizona gubernatorial candidate Sam Steiger receives 5% of the vote.
David Bergland is nominated in New York City as the LP's presidential candidate. Jim Lewis is his running mate.
On the ballot in 39 states, David Bergland and Jim Lewis come in third in the race for President for the first time in the LP's history. Bergland publishes Libertarianism in One Lesson, a campaign book that eventually sells over 75,000 copies, and is still used by the LP today as an introductory text.
Andre Marrou becomes the third Libertarian elected to the Alaska legislature.
Libertarians are elected to 11 more local offices around the country.
More than 200 candidates across the United States receive 2.9 million votes. Ray Cullen, candidate for Treasurer in California, gets 570,000 votes, largest vote total ever for a third party candidate in California.
Doug Anderson is elected Elections Commissioner in Denver. Libertarians are elected to every seat on the city council in Big Water, Utah.
Former U.S. Congressman Ron Paul resigns from the Republican Party and joins the LP.
Seattle convention nominates Ron Paul for President and Andre Marrou for Vice President.
Ron Paul, on the ballot in 46 states and the District of Columbia, comes in third, receiving more than 430,000 votes nationwide -- almost twice the total of any other "third" party.
The Rev. Dr. James Walter Clifton became the first Libertarian in the State of Michigan to win partisan office when he defeated and outpolled a Democrat and Republican for the office of village trustee in Addison.


Approximately two million people vote for LP candidates.
Election Day is "Double Digit Day," as numerous LP candidates for U.S. Congress and state house draw percentage numbers in teens, twenties, and thirties.
New Mexico state legislature candidate Illa Mae Bolton gets 31% of the vote. California congressional candidate Joe Shea receives 27% of the vote.
A 5% vote for New Hampshire gubernatorial candidate Miriam Luce qualifies LP of New Hampshire as an official party with ballot status.
More than 440,000 Texans vote for Court of Criminal Appeals candidate Carol Caul.
More Libertarian candidates win election in local races -- city council, school board, etc.
New Hampshire state legislators Calvin Warburton and Finlay Rothhaus resign from the Republican Party and join the LP.
Chicago nominating convention names Andre Marrou and Nancy Lord as presidential/vice presidential ticket.
In New Hampshire's presidential primary election Andre Marrou beats incumbent President George Bush 11 votes to 9 in Dixville Notch, the town whose voters always vote first in the nation.
In the general election, four Libertarian state legislators are elected in New Hampshire, with Don Gorman and Andy Borsa joining Warburton and Rothhaus who were re-elected.
Once again the LP's presidential ticket is on the ballot in all 50 states, D.C., and Guam, the only party other than the Democrats and Republicans to achieve this goal.
The more than 700 LP candidates nationwide receive more than 3,700,000 votes for state and federal offices alone. The 23 Libertarian candidates for U.S. Senate receive over 1,000,000 votes, the highest total for a nationally organized third party since 1914.
The LP retains ballot status in 16 states following the 1992 election, two more than it had after the 1988 election.
National Director Stuart Reges testifies before Congress, endorsing legislation to make it easier for third party candidates to participate in presidential debates.
In "off-year" elections, 15 Libertarians win public office, scoring victories in local and county races across the country from Alabama to New York, from Pennsylvania to Minnesota.
Miriam Luce is appointed to the New Hampshire State Liquor Commission, Bonnie Flickinger wins election as Mayor of Moreno Valley, California, and Dr. Jimmy Blake wins a seat on the City Council in Birmingham, Alabama.
In New Hampshire, Jim McClarin becomes the most recent Libertarian elected to a state legislative slot; incumbent Don Gorman is re-elected. Elsewhere, Libertarians are elected to city council positions and local boards. Montana Libertarian candidate receives more than 30% for a statewide office.
Libertarians win ballot status for 1996 in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, and Wyoming. Coming out of this election, the LP is now automatically qualified to nominate a presidential candidate in 23 states, the most ever.
Membership and voter registrations soar to record levels. The LP moves its national headquarters into the prestigious Watergate Office Building, which the Wall Street Journal dubs "a sign of the times" of the party's growing stature.
In November, three more Libertarians are elected to city councils: Bruce Van Buren (Avondale Estates, Georgia), Dewayne Methaney (Auburn, Georgia), and Doug Carlsten (Brighton, Colorado.)
The Libertarian Party becomes the first third party in American history to earn ballot status in all 50 states two presidential elections in a row. At the nominating convention in Washington, DC, best-selling author Harry Browne gets the party's nomination. He goes on to win 485,759 votes in the general election, the second-best showing in party history.
The party runs almost 800 candidates for office, and 10 of them break the 100,000-vote barrier. LP candidates for statewide and federal office alone win 5.4 million votes, and seven Libertarians are elected or re-elected to office.
1996 Libertarian Party national convention in Alexandria, Virginia.
Another record-setting "off-year" election for the Libertarian Party, with 39 Libertarians elected to office in November -- including four city council winners: Fred Collins (Berkley, Michigan); Ron Wittig (New Meadows, Idaho); Bob DeBrosse (Piqua, Ohio); and John Gearhart (Palous, Washington). In all, 64 party members join the ranks of Libertarian office-holders during the course of the year.
African-American civil rights leader Roy Innis and talk radio powerhouse Art Bell join the party. In California, Art Olivier becomes mayor of Bellflower, while in Georgia, Dewayne Metheny is elevated to acting mayor of Auburn.
In November, the party sets a new record by running 853 candidates in 44 states. Neil Randall wins election as a State Rep. in Vermont, while Zenneth Caudill and Mary Dufour win partisan office as Jefferson Township Trustees in Indiana. In all, 19 LP candidates are elected.
The party breaks new ground in political activism with its Internet-based campaign against the FDIC's "Know Your Customer" bank spying regulation. After being flooded by 250,000 complaints, the FDIC withdraws the plan.
Party founder David Nolan is named one of the "2,000 Outstanding Intellectuals of the 20th Century" by the International Biographical Centre in England. Fourteen Libertarians are elected to office in local Spring elections, and more than 200 Libertarian candidates are on the ballot in state and local elections in November.


A "Boycott Nosy Census Questions" campaign during the spring generates national newspaper, radio, and TV publicity for the party.
The number of registered Libertarian voters passes 224,000, a 10% increase in less than a year. Folksinger Melanie joins the party. A Rasmussen Research poll reveals that 16% of Americans are ideologically libertarian.
During the year, Libertarians win two Supreme Court cases: Striking down California's "blanket primary" and ending Indiana's random drug-search roadblocks.
The Anaheim, California convention nominates Harry Browne for president and former mayor of Bellflower, California, Art Olivier, for vice-president. They head a ticket of 1,436 LP candidates, including 256 candidates for U.S. House -- the first time in 80 years a third party has contested a majority of Congressional seats.
In one of the closest elections in American history, the LP presidential ticket gets 382,892 votes. However, 34 Libertarians are elected to office, Massachusetts U.S. Senate candidate Carla Howell wins a record 11.9% of the vote, and the LP's candidates for U.S. House win 1.6 million votes -- a new record for any third party.
It was the most successful year ever for Libertarians as they elected 96 people to public office. The number of Libertarians in elective office increased to 301, a jump of 45% in a single year; and the total number of Libertarians in public office rose to 522.
Newspapers and political websites published a whopping 141 Libertarian opinion pieces during the year - an increase of 200% over the previous year's 46 publications.
On December 11 the Libertarian Party celebrated its 30th anniversary. The Party has grown from a handful of people meeting in David Nolan's living room to hundreds of elected officials, thousands of candidates, tens of thousands of contributors, hundreds of thousands of registered voters- millions of Libertarian voters.
The Libertarian Party ran more than 1,642 candidates are the largest slate of candidates ever for the Libertarian Party and the largest for any third party since World War II- almost twice as many as the 845 candidates the Party ran in 1998.
US House candidates polled over 1 million votes for the second time in two election cycles making the Libertarian Party the only other party in history to do so other than Democrats and Republicans.
The "Incumbent Killer" strategy was used to control elections the LP could not yet win. It led to the defeat of Republican Congressman Bob Barr and Democratic Senator Max Cleland. It was also credited with controlling the outcome of the governor's races in Alabama, Wisconsin, and Oregon, and the US Senate race in South Dakota.
Massachusetts Libertarians gathered 101,000 signatures to put a measure eliminating the state income tax on the ballot. On Election Day voters sent shock waves through the media-political establishment when, even with heavy opposition from Democrats and Republicans, 45 percent of the electorate supported it.
2002 Libertarian Party national convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The Libertarian Party clawed its way out of a $400,000 debt helped along by the recession and the aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks and into financial solvency.
Even though it was an off-year election, the LP racked up 46 victories - over half of them coming in higher level offices such as city and county council, increasing the upward march of Libertarian office-holders. In Michigan, Libertarians were re-elected to city council seats and in 5 states Republican and Democrat incumbents were booted from theirs. As 2003 drew to a close, over 600 Libertarians were serving in public office nationwide.
The LP also saved taxpayers more than $2.1 billion in a single day, defeating: a $1.3 billion sales tax hike in Florida, a proposal to finance a light-rail system and other transportation boondoggles in Arizona, a grocery tax in Colorado, and a property tax hike in Santa Clara County, California.
2004 Libertarian Party national convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Debate among candidates Michael Badnarik, Aaron Russo and Gary Nolan.
Party membership rebounded with an increase of 4.5 percent over 2003.
The Libertarian Party nominated Michael Badnarik as their 2004 presidential nominee during the national convention in Atlanta. The LP presidential campaign unveiled Project New Mexico, where they would find a swing state with an inexpensive media market and saturated it with a 10-day ad blitz. After the completion of Project New Mexico, Badnarik's poll numbers quickly rose 5 percent.
American voters were able to vote for the Libertarian Party candidate in 48 states. This led all third parties: Ralph Nader got on only 39 ballots, the Constitution Party got on 35 and the Greens, just 27.
The Libertarian Party generated considerable media attention. In an October 24th New York Times column, John Tierney gave a lengthy mention of Michael Badnarik's campaign.
Four days later, Badnarik appeared on MSNBC's "Countdown" show, where he reached a national audience to push the libertarian message.

In June the Libertarian Party released the "Iraq Exit Strategy: America's Path Forward", a comprehensive plan to withdraw American troops from Iraqi soil, while empowering the Iraqi people with the ability to rule their own nation.
In August the LP transitioned from a members-based organization to a donors-based organization with the passage of the Zero Dues Resolution. The party's new focus will be electing Libertarians to office. This move proved to be highly controversial within the party.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Libertarian Party did its part to help out the relief effort by "adopting" the town of Franklin, Louisiana. The LP national office was in contact with Franklin's community leaders to determine their specific needs. A call was put out to members across the country who responded with their own aid.



Libertarians in Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Washington get elected to public office.[1]

  • January 25, 2018: Larry Sharpe's campaign for Governor of New York raises $102,596, putting him as the second highest fundraiser in the race.[2]
  • January 27, 2018: Aubrey Dunn switches to the Libertarian Party, becoming the first elected official in New Mexico to join the party.[3]
  • March 1, 2018: Governor Pete Ricketts of Nebraska signs Senator Laura Ebke's occupational licensing reform bill into law.[4]
  • June 6, 2018: The Libertarian Party is set to become the first third party in the United States to field candidates for federal and/or statewide races in all 50 states in a mid-term election.[5]
  • July 12, 2018: The Libertarian Party of Ohio submits enough petition signatures to be recognized as a political party in Ohio. [6]
  • August 6, 2018: Four Libertarians get elected to public office in Tennessee.[7]
  • November 7, 2018: 26 Libertarians get elected/re-elected to public office.[8]