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Libertarian Party

Joe Hannoush for Florida State House – Dist. 25: Facts, Background And Links

NAME: Joseph “Joe” Hannoush

RUNNING FOR: Florida State House of Representatives – District 25

PARTY AFFILIATION: Libertarian Party of Florida (LPF)

AGE: 38 years old

FAMILYNael (father), Majda (mother), Jack (brother), Sally (sister) – parents and brother are Ormond Beach residents, sister lives in Jacksonville.

LIVED?: Jacksonville, Fla. and then moved to east Volusia County 15+ years ago

CURRENT PROFESSION: Works with Hannoush family business – NE Cleaners (three drycleaning stores in Volusia County)

DONATE: To Joe Hannoush’s Campaign


STORY: Who The Heck Is Joe Hannoush?

JoePhotoPOLITICAL AND LEADERSHIP EXPERIENCE: Joe was elected to the Executive Committee of the Volusia County Libertarian Party, and is the Chairman of the Legislative Review Committee of the Volusia County Libertarian Party.

LISTEN: Joe On The Marc Bernier Show

HOBBIES: Joe enjoys Volusia County’s beaches. “Going to the beach is always a good way to get away from life and the stress of life. I love the idea of open access to the beach.” As a lover of astronomy, he enjoys — when he gets a chance — visiting Embry-Riddle’s telescope, one of the largest in Florida. He also enjoys playing chess. Gathering petitions was a pretty big past time in the past year or so.


QUOTABLE: “I’m a regular Joe, an honest Joe. I’m just like you. I’m a regular person willing to volunteer my time and do the leg work to put myself out there for you and for all of us who no longer feel like our voices are listened to … I’ve been an attentive voter on the sideline for long enough, and in 2016 looking at the choices on my ballot, I decided that I was going to be the change that I myself have been looking for. The two old parties don’t represent the majority of the people anymore — just special interests. It’s time to get involved and put the rights of the individuals ahead of the big money interests and government … I actually think not running for office before is a good thing.”



DONATE: To Joe Hannoush’s Campaign

CAMPAIGN PAGE: Joe Hannoush for Florida State House District 25

LISTEN: Joe On The Marc Bernier Show

FACEBOOK: Joe Hannoush, Candidate Facebook Page

BALLOTPEDIA: Joe Hannoush Page



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Who Is Joe Hannoush? A Long-Time Volusia County Resident Willing To Stand In The Rain To Collect Petitions To Give You An Option To The Two-Party System


If you live in Volusia County, you may have met Joseph “Joe” Hannoush over the past two years. A friendly guy who was willing to stand in the rain, dodge thunderstorms and sweat in the Florida sun so that you don’t have to endure a two-dimensional ticket this November.

Hannoush, 38, is the Libertarian Candidate for Florida State House District 25, and he’ll be on the ballot on Tuesday, Nov. 6. He’s the alternative candidate.

DONATE: To Joe Hannoush’s Campaign

Hannoush started collecting petitions to make a point — he would get on the general election ballot through hard work. Instead of just paying the filing fee, as his Republican opponent did, he would earn his way onto the ballot by gathering the 1,247 qualified petitions needed to bypass the fee. He gathered more than 1,500, and 1,255 qualified.


After declaring at a Libertarian regional coalition meeting in April 2017 that he had the intention of running, he began that petition drive — usually working by himself. If you followed Joe’s campaign page on social media, it never seemed a day went by for a year without Joe being at a local library or county office, adding to the stack.

“People began seeing that, and started to help out,” Joe said. “It was a snowball effect … Sometimes it was cold, or rainy. I’d just find a spot where I could stand and stay dry and away from the wind.”


That effort he put into grinding through the Florida elements just to make the ballot is the same effort he swears he’d put into representing residents of Volusia County in Tallahassee. As a Libertarian, Hannoush has issue stances that will resonate with both Democrats and Republicans. While Americans continue to get louder about having a “down the middle” type of candidate, that’s exactly what Hannoush thinks he is.

“I didn’t know that I was a Libertarian until 2011 when I took a political quiz at a site called,” Joe said. “So I went on the site and it asked me a bunch of questions, and it asks you how passionate are you about certain issues, how much it matters to you. It comes out with a percentage. It was leading up to the 2012 election and it said I was 86 percent in agreement with the Libertarian candidate for President at that time — Gary Johnson.”

LISTEN: Joe On The Marc Bernier Show

petitionssigned.jpgThe quiz read Joe well. A Christian family that fled Iraq before Joe was born in 1978 —  when Saddam Hussein fell into power — the Hannoushes have flourished in the United States. After first coming to Illinois and later to Jacksonville, Fla., the family moved to eastern Volusia County 15+ years ago.

They opened NE Cleaners and now have three dry cleaning stores in Volusia County — two in Ormond Beach and one in Port Orange. When his parents left Iraq, they came to the United States to get away from oppression — asking only for the opportunity to flourish and to be left alone.

In Joe’s estimation, his parents — in many ways — are also libertarians. And it is that philosophy — to lessen government’s grip and always defend individual liberties — that Joe says he would take to the State House.

BALLOTPEDIA: Joe Hannoush Page

No, he hasn’t run for office before. No, he hasn’t piled up $200,000 like his Republican counterpart.

“I actually think not running for office before is a good thing,” Joe said. “I actually think being just an average Joe is a good thing, and that’s what I call myself. I’m one of the people. I will keep fighting for individual liberties.

“We rule our own lives, I would never be swayed by lobbyists or any other big money influence. I’m going to vote the way a regular person would want me to vote.”



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FL State House 58 Libertarian Candidate Bryan Zemina Brings Reasoned Approach To Special Election

If you Google Bryan Zemina, you may find a photo of him wearing a hard-hat and his sleeves are rolled up. If that isn’t an indication of what kind of state house candidate he is, what is?

Zemina is a relative newcomer to the Libertarian Party and is running for the Florida State House Dist. 58 seat that will hold its special election on Dec. 19. While he’s new to the LP, he’s not new to questioning the status quo and searching for an alternative when it comes to government.

Now he is the alternative, and wouldn’t have it any other way.

DONATE: Bryan Zemina for FL State House 58 (Special Election)

ISSUES: Libertarian Bryan Zemina on the issues


The Dist. 58 race will have Zemina, Democrat Jose N. Vazquez Figueroa, Republican primary winner Lawrence McClure and NPA Ahmad Hussam Saadaldin on the ballot. McClure won the October Republican primary by 9.8%. The district — located solely in eastern Hillsborough County — mixes rural areas with municipalities like Plant City and Temple Terrace. The word ‘diverse’ comes to mind when describing Dist. 58’s constituency.

Zemina feels he’s the perfect guy to tie this unique area together.

Zemina was born in Largo and in third grade moved over to the Riverview area in Hillsborough County, Florida. His parents still live in the house he was raised in. After graduating from East Bay High School in Gibsonton, he decided to pack his bags and head to Indiana to Rose-Hulman where not only did he major in mechanical engineering, he also managed to letter in two sports – football and baseball.

After graduating from college, he moved back to the Tampa Bay area.

When it comes to frustration with nagging local regulations and red tape, Zemina’s eyes first crossed after he and his wife Chrissy purchased their first home in Temple Terrace in 2010. He went to Home Depot to purchase fencing materials to construct his own fence-line, only to be slapped in the face with a notice that he was violating permit rules.

Like many property owners, he felt like local government was crossing the line and he decided to ‘tune in’ more intently — and he has.

His diehard interest in politics also came in 2010 when current Florida Governor Rick Scott was running against Democrat challenger Alex Sink. Zemina wasn’t excited about either one of them and began vetting the other candidates in the race. He decided to vote for an NPA candidate named Daniel Imperato.

CAMPAIGN PAGE: For Bryan Zemina

BALLOTPEDIA: Learn more, Bryan Zemina’s page


The seed of not only seeking out an alternative leader to vote for — and later being the alternative — was germinating. After donating to Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson last year, he was on an email list that connected him with passionate Hillsborough Libertarian leaders Susan Stanley and Kevin O’Neill, and here he is today. They met, and a Libertarian candidacy was born.

Zemina is one of only eight Libertarian candidates in Florida history to qualify to get on the ballot in a FL State House, State Senate or U.S. House special election.

“The way I look at this, Libertarians are for reducing government and everything stems from that,” Zemina told TLI. “In every walk of life, there is a group that would benefit from reducing government.”

Being a mechanical engineer, Zemina takes a disciplined approach to what could be done while in a State House seat.

“Engineering is analytics,” Zemina said. “You look at the pros and cons of an issue, but not the emotion. What is the benefit? Is it worth it? Does it make sense? Not, ‘Do I feel like I want to do this?'”

FLORIDA DISTRICT 58: Current demographics

FLORIDA DISTRICT 58: Detailed map

Zemina is quick to point out the hypocrisy of not only big government in general, but even with his opposition.

“Both Republican candidates (prior to the primary) are anti-sanctuary, but they both support the farming industry which needs migrant workers,” Zemina said. “So if we kick out the migrant workers, does my glass of orange juice go from 2$ to 4$?

“These people are here to improve their lives, and it’s very rare to find an American citizen who would do those jobs. To me it’s a win, win, win. Why attack people who are doing no wrong? And to speak so two-faced about the issues on your own website?”

When it comes to Zemina’s hot-button issues, his first goal would be to get on the finance committee to have an effect when it comes to the state budget. The campaign financing debate, reducing the tax burden on individuals and small businesses and the decriminalization of marijuana are all topics he would attack on day one (read more about Zemina’s stance on the issues).

He feels the biggest thing he has going for him is obvious. It is the same thing that interested him in 2010 in voting for Imperato for Governor.

“To this day, I don’t know what (Imperato’s) party affiliation is, I just know that my wife and I both liked what he had to say, his stances on issues,” Zemina said. “From that point forward we’ve both been much more interested in politics and the alternatives to the mainstream options.”

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NOTE: District 58’s seat came open earlier this year when Plant City native Dan Raulerson (R) — who won the Nov. 2016 election — resigned citing health and business concerns. The spurred December’s special election.

Libertarian candidate history in Florida for special elections – U.S. and FL races

Three Florida Libertarian Candidates Enter Fall With Momentum, Victories

By Brian McLaughlin

TLI Editor

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.”

Florida’s history of Libertarian Special Elections candidates

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.

LPF Hits 30,000 Mark During Post-Election Doldrums of 2016


TLI Managing Editor

It’s not supposed to work like this.

It took 14 years for the Libertarian Party of Florida to hit the 10,000 registered voters mark in 2001, then a little more than a decade longer to hit 20,000 at the end of 2012.

Things are speeding up a bit, as the LPF hit the 30,000 mark this spring – nearly 32,000, to be exact.

May2017-chartIn what is usually considered the political doldrum period of the election cycle – the time immediately following a Presidential election – the LPF grew by 12 percent in just seven months. That’s right … since the November elections, the LPF has grown 12 percent while other parties hardly budged or declined.

The reason? It could be tied to the Florida Department of Elections dismantling the Independent (INT) and Independence (IDF) parties this spring. Some have wondered if voters were confused by these two parties, thinking it was more like an NPA registration than an actual party. Regardless, more than 300,000 Floridian voters were left homeless after those moves this spring.

Regardless of the reason for the recent spike, it’s certainly a positive sign for Florida’s third-largest political party. With 31,631 registered Libertarians as of the May 2017 count, the LPF is well ahead of the fourth-place Green Party (6,605 voters) and others.

“It’s a very exciting moment for the LP,” said Marcos Miralles, Chairman of the LPF. “I think that our organization and our creation of leaders throughout the state will continue to grow the movement. The sooner we recruit candidates for local seats, the faster we can push for membership through the candidates’ campaigns. It’s a win for the Libertarian Party and a win for the citizens of Florida.”

There are other interesting trends to consider. From the pre-election tally in 2006 to the pre-election formal count in 2016, the Libertarian Party of Florida has grown 82 percent when it comes to registered voters, while the Republicans and Democrats both were at 15 percent – while the overall total of voters grew 23 percent.

Oh, and NPAs grew 57 percent during that same period. Conclusion? The pool of registered voters in Florida is growing, while the list of duopoly voters isn’t keeping pace – while the “outlier” voter totals are shooting upwards over the past decade or so.

If this trend continued at the 2006-2016 pace, the LPF would be near 60,000 registered voters in the next decade – and the recent growth has actually been much more rapid.

Florida’s Libertarian Party first held a state convention in 1973 in Orlando and continued holding them until the mid 1980s when the party was dissolved by the state. In 1987, the LP was rejuvenated and the second push really got rolling in the 1992 election season when six Libertarians ran for State House down ballot from Presidential nominee Andre Marrou. Since then, more than 100 Libertarian candidates have run for state office and countless others have run in non-partisan races at the city and county level.

Montana Libertarian Mark Wicks Has A Daughter Named Liberty And A Plan To Change U.S. House’s Political Landscape



There’s nothing more independent than being a rancher whose family has lived on the same 1,600-acre tract for more than a century. When you’re a rancher, you’re not used to outsiders dictating what you can and cannot do … and you don’t dictate to your neighbor, either.

That is exactly where Montana native Mark Wicks is coming from.

MarkWicks-MugshotWicks, 47, is the Libertarian candidate in a pivotal U.S. House Special Election that will take place May 25. Since the national reapportionment in the early 1990s, Montana has had only one U.S. House seat, known as its ‘at-large’ slot.

The U.S. House at-large seat is currently vacant after Ryan Zinke was appointed and confirmed as President Trump’s Secretary of Interior. By state law in Montana, the U.S. House seat has to be filled within 85 to 100 days of the vacancy, which the May 25 special election will do. The seat has been Republican since the late 1990s, but Wicks is out to change that.

This special election has all kinds of national ramifications, as the Democrats are hoping it will become a referendum on Trump’s first 100 days in office. Republicans are spending big money to avoid the potential embarrassment. The money has been flowing and the political pop stars are finding their way to Big Sky Country.

Wicks wants to throw a gold-embossed wrench into the rusty machinery, Libertarian style.

“I don’t think you have to worry about me being the spoiler because I have no intention of coming in third,” Wicks quipped during his interview on Tuesday with The Libertarian Identity.

RELATED: Mark Wicks Campaign Donation Page

RELATED: Libertarian Mark Wicks’ campaign page

On April 29, Wicks was in a televised debate (See KTVQ Debate) with Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte, and the Libertarian reaction to his performance has been positive. Also, in two polls so far, Wicks has peaked at 11%.

Wicks told TLI he’s always been a Libertarian. Though LPs don’t register as such in the open primary state of Montana, he said he has voted for Libertarian candidates since he was 18 – when they were an option on the ballot, which oftentimes they weren’t.

“When you live out here and do everything on your own, you feel the freedom to do whatever you want however you want, and then you see people trying to stop you from doing what you choose … it leaves a bad taste,” Wicks said. “The people all around me are very independent people. We don’t like government telling us what to do. My family has taken care of this land for more than 100 years without the government’s help.”

RELATED: Huffington Post – Special Election Nobody Is Following Could Deal A Huge Blow to Trump

HillCountyMontanaWicks and his family of six reside in Hill County, Montana near the town of Inverness – just south of the Canadian border in north central Montana. His grandparents came to the area in 1913 to be ranchers. He currently raises cattle on his land, along with his haying operation.

“We finally paid it off,” Wicks joked, when asked about the property. “We might even turn a profit one of these days.”

He and his family also transport agricultural goods westward during peak season. Most people who ranch also have jobs outside the home, or at least one of the adults does. He and his wife of 21 years, Beth, are part of the rural route post office operation locally. Their oldest son Hunter (18) is at Montana State-Northern in Havre, studying agricultural technology. Jewel (16) is a high school student who Wicks said may be the next politician in the brood. Choral (12) and Liberty (5) – yes, Liberty – round out the family.

With so much responsibility at home already in hand, Wicks did go back-and-forth with the decision to enter this race as a Libertarian. But, he looked at this as another responsibility he couldn’t shirk.

RELATED: Libertarian Mark Wicks’ campaign page

“I had been kind of thinking about doing this for a long time and I kept looking at whether this is the right time in our lives, and are the kids the right age for this,” Wicks said. “And I came to the conclusion that this wasn’t really the perfect time in my life for this, but I thought it looked so bad if people didn’t step up and do something in this race.”

On March 11th, the MTLP held a convention in Helena and Wicks won on the third ballot with 56% after eight LP candidates originally threw their hats in.

When it comes to his strongest Libertarian stances, Wicks doesn’t hesitate to bring up the fiscal responsibility side of the equation. He feels that if he has to run a balanced budget in his own home to survive, the Federal Government should too. He said he’d be behind massive spending cuts and would fight in Congress to make it happen – that, first and foremost is his major push. He doesn’t feel either of the older parties attempt to cut spending anymore. It is his biggest beef.

LibertarianPartyMontanaWicks’ (BallotPedia page) next biggest sticking point is education. For decades, his family tree knew well the successes of the hyper local one-room schoolhouse – that they didn’t need federal intervention to educate.

“It’s really important to me,” Wicks said. “It sounds like common core is going away, and that really needed to be done. I think we should phase out the Department of Education. We have good teachers in this state, and there’s nothing that another level of government is going to tell our teachers that they don’t already have a handle on.

“Let the states decide to teach their students instead of this one-size fits all setup. Our students have a lot of different needs than those in New York and California.”

Already, he achieved a victory when it came to reaching the debate stage to sit equally with Quist and Gianforte. But it didn’t come easily. Two earlier debates were cancelled for no reason, and he wasn’t even notified about two editorial board dates in some Montana’s larger towns/publications.

RELATED: Roundtable video reaction to April 29 Montana U.S. House debate

Wicks originally received an email saying he would be excluded from the KTVQ debate. He immediately got ahold of Montana Libertarian Party (MTLP) leaders Ron Vandevender (State Chairman) and Michael Fucci, as well as LNC Region 1 Rep Caryn Ann Harlos and they helped raise awareness of Wicks’ snub, and ultimately helped get the decision turned around. KTVQ News Director Jon Stepanek first message cited time constraints as their reason for not inviting Wicks to the Billings debate.

“We just started sending the word out, not just to Libertarians but across the board and people were upset that we were being excluded and it started coming together,” Wicks said. “We proved that we met the standards they set for us. We have two unpopular candidates who are both weak. We have a chance here, this is a very Libertarian state.”

His competitors? Wicks sees them as identical twins. What exactly is the difference? In fact, he points to their TV advertisements as an example. Both have televised ads shooting televisions.

“I’ve told PETA …you know, the People for the Ethical Treatment of Appliances … that I won’t be shooting any TVs in this campaign,” Wicks said.

We’re down to 23 days on this one, sports fans.

Want to see the full U.S. House debate from April 29? Click me!

TLI talks To U.S. Senate Candidate Paul Stanton, Who Won Florida’s Libertarian Primary And Is Polling At 10% For Nov. 8 General Election

: This was the first in a series of interviews with Libertarian TheLibertarianIdentity-Squarecandidates from around the country. Our next interview was with Ruben Corvalan of Texas, who is once again running for the U.S. House seat in District 23.

This summer, Paul Stanton—a Libertarian candidate for current Senator Marco Rubio’s seat in Florida—talked with The Libertarian Identity writer Brian McLaughlin about his background, his most spirited positions and what he would bring to the table if he was elected. Stanton won the first statewide Libertarian primary in late August, receiving 74 percent of the vote.

Stanton, 31, was born in Oklahoma and spent parts of his childhood in Arizona, Illinois and then finally in Fort Wayne, Indiana—where he graduated high school. He was taking the military’s ASVAB test in high school the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 … with the media center TVs showing the footage live while the testing took place. When he watched the second plane hit the tower, it was then that he knew he wanted to serve his country.

RELATED: Why I’m voting for–and volunteering for–Paul Stanton

RELATED: Paul Stanton’s BallotPedia page

His first “postsecondary degree” came from the School of Hard Knocks—in Baghdad, Iraq in the Army. Those experiences would set the table for the strong beliefs he espouses today, something that seems to be a theme with many military veterans who have joined the ranks of the Libertarian Party.

When Stanton finished his six-year tour in early 2009—as an E-5 Sergeant—he went back to school at Indiana University-Purdue Fort Wayne (IPFW). His chosen career path is computer programming and data analytics, and he works for Frontier Communications—and was able to relocate to a company branch in Florida a year ago.

The reason for the move? “To be closer to my family,” Stanton told TLI. “People tend to move to Florida when they get older and my family is no exception.”

He resides in DeLand: Home of Stetson University, nestled between NASCAR and the Mouse King—Daytona Beach and Orlando. Stanton has been a contributing member with the Libertarian Party since 2013 and has voted Libertarian since returning from Iraq in 2008.

: “Paul, in talking to you before, it seems your military experience in Iraq is one of the driving forces behind your political activism. Can you talk us through what happened and how it affected you?”

STANTON: “Do you mind if I share a story? I was overseas in Iraq and we were in a rural area southwest of Baghdad. I was with a bomb squad, and if people would find a roadside bomb, they would call us to go out to it. When we got there, I ordered the gunner to pivot to the direction we’d most likely be attacked. It happened to be this house. And a bunch of kids came out of the house and we gave them candy and toys like we always did. And my gunner looked down at me and said, ‘You know, if they were in our country aiming guns at my house, I’d want to blow them up too.’ And before that I’d never really thought about it at that level. It was really a profound moment, and as the tour continued, I realized more and more that a lot of their actions were actually very understandable, and that’s really unfortunate to say.”

RELATED: Three more key endorsements come to Stanton, one week short of primary

TLI: “So in effect, your strongest stance is the ‘Anti Nation Building’ issue that so many Libertarians tend to agree with?”

STANTON: “Yes, ultimately what I’m against is the government initiation of force and coercion and the most blatant example of that is war. Whether it is war overseas, the war on drugs or the war on the poor. With the wars overseas, it’s a clear example of where we’re killing many innocent people for reasons many times they don’t even understand. And domestically with drugs and the poor, we have a situation where even with the best of intentions it isn’t working. Why ruin a kid’s life just because he tried something his friends asked him to try? It’s a ridiculous miscarriage of justice. Look at the war on the poor—we have a situation where we have poor people with safety nets, yet we also tax them and when we give that money back to them, it comes with strings attached. I think with all three—the war overseas, on drugs and on the poor—we need to remove the paternalism and use of force, because the government is doing horrible things.”

TLI: “So when you were out of the Army, how did the ball begin to roll with your activism. What was that first step, so to speak?”

STANTON: “Well, back in 2009 when I got out, I moved back to Fort Wayne and moved in with my sister for a while to get readjusted. I went to college at IPFW and while I was in college I became an Anti War activist—Students Against War. We tried to show people how horrible things were … Initially it started out with me and another veteran, but she didn’t end up being as active so it ended up that I was the only veteran with the group. Some of them were a little older but most were 18 to 20 years old. It was mostly Libertarians and Socialists. The Anti War Democrats were no longer interested because Obama was already in the White House and they seemed to think that struggle was over now. The problem is, having ‘hope’ for something and actually having the confidence it will happen are two different things.”

CHECK OUT THE HOME PAGE: The Libertarian Identity

TLI: “So anti-war is clearly your No. 1 priority. What’s No. 2 on the Stanton list?”

STANTON: {Laughs} “You mean I didn’t give you two or three already? It’s really what we talked about earlier, the war on drugs. Look at the war on drugs—the stop-and-frisk policies. People get shaken down and then have to prove their innocence. It’s an awful system we’ve created where people are subjected to government force. And just to make it clear, this is not the police officers’ fault. They are not to blame.”

LibertarianIsmTLI: “That is a hot-button topic right now, for sure. I know police officers who privately will tell you they wish they could stop chasing marijuana-related crimes—users, small-time peddlers, growers—and start chasing what they call ‘real’ criminals. Tell us more about what you think of how the police are being treated right now?”

STANTON: “Well, while police officers are agents of the state, they’re also victims of the state. They have a really, really tough job. How can you hate a brave guy, really? But we need to change the system so the police officers don’t have to go after people because of a plant, so they aren’t wasting their time going after these victimless crimes. Some Libertarians have different views on this, but I don’t think the overall dialogue in our party is anti-police by any stretch. Johnson and Weld are anything but anti-cop. Or Peterson, or (past LP presidential candidate) Bob Barr. They don’t blame the police, they blame the system. Let’s be honest, you have some Democrats who think police officers are all horrible and some Republicans who say cops can do no wrong. Come on! I don’t think either side is totally true.”

RELATED: Democrat applauds Stanton, blasts Invictus during debate closing remarks

TLI: “OK, I’m glad you brought up Johnson and Weld and some of the other big names in the party. Let’s pivot a second to the horserace. I think we all know that 2016 is about to be the ‘Year of the Libertarian’. The writing seems to be carved into the political façade already. How blessed do you feel running this year with all of the attention the party is getting?”

STANTON: “It definitely is a good time. I’m actually a little bit disappointed this year in the low number of Libertarian candidates actually running in Florida. That’s rather unfortunate. But this is an amazing opportunity. Not only might we actually have a Libertarian President, the up-ticket surge is going to be a huge boost for down the ticket. If we don’t do well in this election, it will be shocking.”

PAUL-STANTON-WITH-MCAFEETLI: “You received video endorsements from John McAfee and Darryl Perry and you did the official nomination speech for the late Dr. Mark Allan Feldman at the LP National Convention. Gov. Johnson has also verbally endorsed you.What was it like to receive those votes of confidence?”

STANTON: “It’s deeply flattering. It really is. Some of these people are personal heroes of mine. I’ve supported them in their endeavors and now they’re supporting me in mine. And it’s a big responsibility. I of course need to keep true to the message, the message of liberty. And I need to ensure that the endorsement wasn’t made in vain. It’s sort of amazing to think that I voted for Johnson and Gray in 2012 for President of the United State, and now they’re behind me. They’re all wonderful people.” EDITOR’S NOTE: Stanton also received endorsements from 2012 Vice-Presidential candidate Judge Jim Gray mentioned above and 2016 LP Presidential candidate Kevin McCormick, as well as six Florida Libertarian affiliates- Volusia, Collier, Pinellas, Broward, Palm Beach and Northwest Florida (Pensacola-Fort Walton Beach area). 

StantonSmilingTLI: “Just like with Gov. Johnson and Gov. Weld, it’s important to be in polls and hopefully the debates too. I think for the U.S. Senate position, they called it the ‘Snitker Paradox’ back in the 2010 U.S. Senate race because no entity consistently included Alex Snitker in their polls—and only Rubio, Crist and Meeks were acknowledged. Do you get the feeling that will be different for you this year? And what would you do if you were able to win the primary and then get into that debate forum with the Republican and Democrat nominees?”

STANTON: “That would be amazing. I would definitely bring a different message to the table. I don’t have the same baggage of the Democratic and Republican frontrunners (as of early August, Rep. Patrick Murphy and Rubio, respectively). I would have a very strong showing and get the message of liberty and peace out there. That’s one thing lacking with the other party frontrunners. The ‘old’ parties, I guess you’d call them. Ultimately, the duopoly is going to continue in Florida and nationwide until we have election reform.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Stanton officially “qualified” to be on the ballot in June, as did his primary opponent Augustus Invictus. There was a $10,400 qualifying fee to get on the ballot, and both met the deadline and set up the first Libertarian primary in Florida history for a federal election. Only three states had Libertarian primaries for a federal election, the other two being in Missouri and Alaska.

I divorced the Republican Party- Here’s Why

By Brian McLaughlin, TLI

Today, I made the short walk down to the snail-mail box and sent a printout to the Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections.

I didn’t change my address, I committed to a new, fresh political philosophy—I simply put “LPF” where I had always put “REP or NPA” all the years prior. Since I first voted in the 1996 election, I’d never broken that tradition. So, yes … that’s right, I’m now Libertarian. And actually, I’m now a “VL-LPF-FL”—which stands for “Very Loud-Libertarian Party of Florida-For Life”.

Like immigraLibertarianEmblemnts who left the “old country” to come to America, I won’t be going back to my old home—and I’m sad about how things have gone there. The political atmosphere of today is just another version of Civil War and suppression and the famine of the soul, and similarly, a Napoleonic-like figure has emerged just like he did when so many of my ancestors fled to America.

I no longer want to vote within those confines. Never again will I vote for my 5th or 6th favorite Republican after all of the good ones have been eliminated in the first few weeks of the primaries. That party doesn’t represent me, maybe it never really did.

Though I respect freedom of religion like I respect all of our freedoms, I feel as though religion has seeped too much into the Republican Party, forcing its candidates to fake their way through those sorts of talking points. I’ve gagged many times. Also, I’m frustrated with the pendulum-swing effect that has happened with Trump. Trump has appealed to people who are angry about the Obama years, just like Obama’s base was angry about the Bush years and the Bush base was angry about the Slick Willy years … need I go on? I’m tired of anger replacing reasonable thought—that “style over substance” silliness that has prevented an outstanding candidate like Ron Paul from ever gaining traction. And with the left, I’m tired of the platitudes and lack of reason replacing the answer to that simple and critical question—how are you going to pay for that?

2_1_2016_johnson8201_s878x683And by the way, voters don’t seem to understand that a pendulum isn’t stuck in endless Left-Right mode—a two-dimensional quagmire. A pendulum can swing in other directions if you just know how to change its trajectory.

This year, I don’t think a 3rd Party run is going to be dismissed by the electorate, I have this gut feeling it is going to be embraced. Am I being idealistic? Maybe. But this year, the general election is going to have three candidates who are in the double digits—I can just feel it. And maybe, just maybe, a Libertarian candidate could snag the electoral votes from half a dozen or more of those Bernie or Cruz states, or one of the purple states. It is ripe to happen if we are handed Trump-Clinton as an election option.

Admittedly, I’m a political junkie and have been since my childhood. Make that a political nerd.

Here’s one of those polls that proves this isn’t an ordinary year…..

In 4th grade, I got in trouble at school for distributing a handwritten “presidential choice” tally sheet where you could put your name under Reagan or under Mondale. I brought it on the school bus and to school and passed it around for all of my classmates to sign. And hey … it was actually a pretty accurate poll, because I think Reagan won our elementary school poll 47 to 3, which is just about the same proportion as the electoral college rear-end whoopin’ later that November. My teacher wasn’t amused and took my poll away and ripped it up and threw it in the trash, said it was like passing notes in class. I disagreed.

She must have been a Democrat.

Yep, I suffer from severe political nerdism. Don’t worry though, I take three tablespoons of Real Clear Politics a day and it helps me focus.

There’s another thing to admit to—driving my Facebook buddies crazy with political banter. Anybody else suffer from this affliction? Nestled between the 735 photos of babies and recipes for chocolate-peanut butter goo cake and selfies are posts from me begging my family and friends to “wake up”. That this circus currently going on is damaging us. But I’m pretty sure a bunch of them have muted me.

So instead of wasting my time ranting on a Facebook feed to a handful of friends and family, I decided to put my money, my mouth and my effort into trying to be a part of the solution. Any kind of tiny contribution an individual can make should be channeled into the movement.

I’m happy with the decision to leave the Republican Party, and I know I’m one of many thousands to do it. And there’s no way in scorchin’ Hades I ever would have voted Democrat.

I have found a new home, a new political beginning at 41 years of age. The potential is endless, the room for growth eye-opening. These Libertarian candidates are approachable, down to earth. The party structure lacks the collective ego of the larger, “heavy” campaigns–it consists of concerned individuals, small business owners … people who simply want to protect our guaranteed rights and want the federal government at permanent arms length.

This is the year, a Perfect Storm kind of time … things are aligning perfectly for a Libertarian to not only be on the ballot, but be in the hearts and minds of American voters who didn’t even know the party existed. Election turnout is going to be huge, record-breaking, and we must seize these new voters and convert those who are fed up with the old country ways.

It’s time, and I am beyond enthusiastic to be a part of it.

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