By Brian McLaughlin
Typically, an odd-numbered year following a Presidential election cycle would be “exhale” time, but in Florida, 2017 has been anything but for Libertarian candidates.
Former LNC chair Jim Turney (1985-88) filed and qualified for a non-partisan race for Altamonte Springs City Commission, and his incumbent competitor dropped out literally hours later on the final day of qualifying (Sept. 5). Turney will now be unopposed in the November election. No one else qualified.
Altamonte Springs is in the Greater Orlando area.
Two Florida State House special elections will also feature Libertarians in December and February of next year. Recent LP convert Bryan Zemina (Dist. 58) will be in the December SE in the Tampa area, while former Johnson-Weld Field Director Alison Foxall is in a three-party race (Dist. 72) to be held in February in the Sarasota area.
Only eight Florida Libertarians have ever qualified to get on the ballot in a state or federal special election—with Foxall and Zemina being the most recent.
Foxall even achieved ballot access via the petition route, only the second Floridian Libertarian to do that in a special election situation. Her volunteer staff beat the Democrat’s numbers of valid petitions (400 to 391), missing the Republican by just nine.
In an example of the LP synergy being felt in the Sunshine State, Turney actually was part of the petition drive in Foxall’s Sarasota-area district. They all have also donated to each other’s campaigns, a theme that has extended to the already filed 2018 Libertarian candidates.
“The LP in Florida has quality candidates that are in tough special election races … where it won’t be so easy as it was for me,” Turney said. “I hope they have my luck, but they certainly have my support.”
Turney decided to get into his race because he felt the incumbent was vulnerable in his district. Foxall also saw an opportunity in her home district, where she has resided for more than 25 years. The 2016 elected House Rep abruptly announced her resignation in late August, and Foxall decided to run just hours later when she realized the filed Republican James Buchanan didn’t even live in District 72, though he and his wife now plan to relocate there. Two Democrats later entered and will have a primary in December.
“I am stepping up to represent the district that I’ve lived in for 25 years and will carry our constituents’ voices to Tallahassee with me,” Foxall said. “I’m ready to earn my neighbors’ vote so that I can cut wasteful spending, eliminate unnecessary barriers to entry for many industries, and cut individuals’ tax burden here in Florida.”
Zemina worked with Hillsborough county LP leaders Susan Stanley and Kevin O’Neill to set up his race for special election in the greater Tampa area.
“I was motivated to jump into the race due to lack of results with the two-party system,” Zemina said. “All the nation sees, on all levels, is a bitter fight and opposition to each other instead of working together as government should. Neither side truly stands for the values that they claim to stand for, and I feel it’s only right to try to be the one to bring about change like I’ve been talking about for so long. If not me, then who?”
Along with the Florida Libertarians’ successes and work in 2017, there are eight candidates already filed to run in 2018 for federal and statewide elections, and has been previously reported in the LNC newsletter, the Florida town of Frostproof now has two registered Libertarians on city council, with one (Martin Sullivan) elected vice-mayor earlier this year.