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Columbia Missourian

Libertarians come out in low numbers, look past primary

By SEAN MADDEN
February 6, 2008 | 12:32 a.m. CST

Libertarian voters were few and far between on presidential primary day in Boone County, but after the dust settled and most of the votes were counted, Wayne Root was the local winner with seven votes.

Statewide, Root captured 353 votes to best his closest competitors, Steve Kubby, who pulled 192 votes, and George Phillies, who counted 160.

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Mike Bellman, a member of the Boone County Libertarian Central Committee, suggested that former Libertarian candidate Ron Paul who ran as a Republican may have siphoned some of the votes.

Bellman pointed to Paul’s platform as an attraction to Libertarian voters. Paul got 25,950 votes in Missouri and 1,043 in Boone County.

“Paul is pulling a lot of freedom-supporting individuals who hope to bring the powers of government back to the citizens,” Bellman said. “His supporters are from all kinds of different parties, not just Libertarians, especially among young voters.”

The Libertarian ballot in Missouri certainly didn’t lack for choices. Six people: Root of Nevada; Daniel Imperato of Florida; Phillies of Massachusetts; Michael Jingozian of Oregon; and Kubby and Dave Hollist, both of California. Of these six, only Root, Imperato and Jingozian are listed as eligible on the national candidates on the Libertarian Party Web site, lp.org. Bob Jackson is also listed as eligible but did not appear on Missouri’s ballot.

A candidate’s eligibility is directly related to the amount of money raised thus far, and a candidate cannot qualify unless he or she has raised at least $5,000.

Boone County Libertarian Party committee member Jim Rogers has been researching Libertarian candidates but said he doesn’t feel the need to vote in the primary, especially this year.

“I’ve read material from a couple of them, and I’m not too concerned about who it’s going to be; it should be someone I can support,” Rogers said. “This is an unusual election with all the options from the Democrats and Republicans and with a Libertarian candidate, Ron Paul, running as well.”

Imperato, who won five votes in Boone County, said during a telephone interview from his home in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Tuesday night that he is confident in his ability to raise money. He said he believes he’ll attract independents, Hispanic voters and Christian conservatives alike.

“My race is dependent on independents, which make up 22 percent of the population,” Imperato said. “I hope I am the man of principle that can challenge Democratic and Republican candidates. The only true change in this country will be if a third party gets into the White House.”

Imperato said he appreciates Missouri’s support of him and his candidacy for president and hopes to be able to properly thank Missourians for both allowing him to be on their ballots and supporting him.

“The state of Missouri has been a great state, and I am overwhelmed by the strength of the Libertarian Party in Missouri. I hope I can win the Libertarian nomination and be able to speak to and thank Missouri residents,” Imperato said.

Rogers said he’s not fretting over the Libertarians’ fate just yet. “When it’s all said and done, we’ll have a good, solid candidate on the ballot.”

Currently, Rogers supports Phillies, but with the convention still more than three months away, anything can happen.

“He seems to be coming up with good ideas that will resonate well with people. He’s been communicating more thoroughly than the others; he’s impressed me,” Rogers said.

Although many Boone County Libertarians chose to vote for Paul in the primary, when the presidential election comes around the story may be different.

“I don’t think (voting for Paul) weakens the party. When the general election comes, I’ll be voting Libertarian,” Rogers said.

The presidential primary is not necessary for the Libertarian Party to choose a candidate to run as president, which could also account for a low voter turnout in Boone County.

“The Libertarian Party nationwide doesn’t pick a candidate through a presidential primary; it’s a meaningless number,” Bellman said. “It may show who they wish to elect, but they pick their candidates at the convention through rounds of voting.”