GRANVILLE—The Libertarian Party of Ohio held its 2013 Annual Conference at the lovely and historic Granville Inn in Granville, Ohio on Saturday, April 27. More than 40 LPO members and various guests attended, with total attendance exceeding 70. On Friday night prior to the conference, a fundraising dinner was also held in Granville featuring 2012 Libertarian Vice-Presidential candidate Judge Jim Gray, with more than 50 in attendance
The conference featured a report on the state of the party from various party leaders, a variety of guest speakers and seminars, and an awards luncheon with featured speaker Geoffrey Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee. (According to the constitution of the party, a convention with full business meeting is held in even-numbered years with a conference like this year’s event replacing it in odd-numbered years.)
The opening session Saturday morning featured brief presentations by various officers and directors reviewing the accomplishments of their offices or divisions and giving attendees a glimpse at plans for the upcoming year. This was followed by the keynote speaker, Garrett Quinn of Reason.com. In addition to his work for Reason.com, Quinn is a blogger for the Boston Globe and a radio host on WRKO 680 in Boston. Quinn spoke entertainingly about being a libertarian in the heart of a blue state beast, as well as his efforts covering the Boston Marathon bombing.
Geoffrey Neale, a 30-year Libertarian Party activist, spoke to the audience at the luncheon. Now in the middle of his second term leading the national Libertarian Party, Neale gave the attendees an inside look at the national party and its plans for the future. High on that list will be the purchase of a new headquarters building, to be named for party co-founder David Nolan and save the LP thousands of dollars per year in rent, and several new media initiatives aimed at people with pro-liberty sympathies who haven’t identified themselves as Libertarians yet.
Neale helped LPO Executive Committee Chair Kevin Knedler, Central Committee Chair Aaron Harris and Field Director Brad Lowry with the presentation of awards. New Member “Spirit” Awards, the LPO’s version of “rookie of the year,” went to Lowry, Northeast Ohio activist Debbie Dean, Finance Director Joe Hassen, and Knox County Development Coordinator Nick Clayton.
Local “Grass Roots” Awards, for leadership at the county level, were given to Bob Frey of Hamilton County and Steve Linnabary of Franklin County.
Communications Division Deputy Director John Fockler and Membership Coordinator Dave Howell received “Volunteer” Awards for activity at the state party level.
Executive Committee Secretary Daryl Olthaus received the “Excellence” Award and Lowry took home the “Impact” Award, for the member who made the greatest impact on the state party.
Lowry’s win of both the “Impact” and “Spirit” Awards in the same year was unprecedented.
Following the regular awards, Knedler was surprised with special recognition as the first inductee in the party’s “Hall of Honor.” Harris and Lowry spoke about the years of effort Knedler has contributed to the party, and most especially about his unprecedented effectiveness in creating a party organization which is professional and which many Libertarian leaders outside the state, including 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate Gov. Gary Johnson, have called “the most effective state party” in the Libertarian movement.
Seminars filled the afternoon. Howard Rahtz, who has broad experience as both an addiction specialist and a Cincinnati police officer and who now speaks on behalf of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), told listeners about “Stopping the Drug War Violence.” Ohio State University Student and State Director of Students for Conceal Carry, addressed the topic “Restoring the Right to Self-Defense: Making Campus Carry Mainstream.” Chris Ferruso, Legislative Director of the Ohio branch of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) talked about “The Small Business Growth Agenda – With Limited Government Regulation and Taxation.”
Running concurrently with the guest speakers’ seminars, LPO leaders offered practical “shop talks” on nuts-and-bolts activism. Steve Schulte, Communications Director of the Hamilton County LP, offered information on increasing libertarians’ persuasiveness in presenting their ideas. Harris, who also serves as Communications Director of the LPO, gave tips on effective communications. The Political Division’s top two leaders, Director Bob Bridges and Deputy Director Paul Hinds, spoke to prospective LP candidates for public office.
Frey, who served as principal organizer of the event, said, “The crowd was enthusiastic and responsive. I was particularly pleased to see a number of first-time attendees.”
Money being still the fables “mother’s milk of politics, of course fundraising was a necessary part of the day. Hassen remarked, “We increased our monthly donations by a significant amount. That’s not one time gifts but regular monthly income! That's great news for the LPO and our budget. We will put that to great use in the fight for liberty.”
Harris noted that the “nuts-and-bolts” seminars actually drew a bit better than the guest speakers. “I was pleasantly surprised by that,” he said. “It shows that the membership is ready go beyond talk and take effective action.”
GRAND RAPIDS, OHIO—The Libertarian Party of Wood County was proud to host its inaugural Jefferson Day Dinner and Liberty Celebration at Nazareth Hall in Grand Rapids On Saturday, April 13. About fifty people attended the event, which featured several speakers, including activists from People Against the NDAA and George Zsidisin, who declared his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination in the 5th Congressional district.
Wood County’s own Charlie Earl, author, liberty activist, and former candidate for secretary of state, gave a rousing speech filled with humor and insight, and local bluegrass band Ind’Grass performed before and after the event with great fanfare.
Zsidisin, a business professor at Bowling Green State University, decorated veteran, and lifetime member of the Libertarian Party, gave a great speech titled “From Confusion to Clarity,” which charted his experiences as a young child growing up in heavily Democrat New Jersey suburbs, through his military and college experiences, and finally his recent connection with the LP in Wood County.
“It is about big government versus small government,” Zsidisin said, connecting with both LPO members as well as a few libertarian-leaning Republicans in the crowd.
“Our message of liberty sparks the same interest it did 237 years ago,” said Dennis P. Rahe, an LPO member who attended the event. “It creates a desire that roars in the hearts of those who get it. That is hard to find in any other party.”
For more information about the Libertarian Party of Wood County, please email Chairman Nathan Eberly (email@example.com).
COLUMBUS—NASCAR fans visiting Xenia's Kil-Kare Raceway will notice a new sponsor making its first appearance this season. The number 79 car, driven by veteran driver Grant Gamble, is being sponsored by the Libertarian Party of Ohio.
The car is competing in the Whelen All-American Series, and is scheduled to compete in all ten of the remaining races this season. The track is open for Thursday night practice sessions and for the races on Friday nights. Admission charges are reasonable.
The LPO logo appears on the hood of Gamble's car, and the party's name is displayed prominently on both sides of the car as well. The LPO's sponsorship of a race car is believed to be the first such partnership involving a Libertarian Party affiliate.
LPO Political Director Bob Bridges took the lead in arranging the sponsorship. “We wanted to do something original and exciting that's never been done before,” Bridges said. “We wanted to reach out to voters in a whole new way.”
Bridges hopes to reach a new audience in NASCAR fans. “It's a grand experiment,” he said. “The NASCAR image is family friendly and independent-minded, just the kind of people who probably lean our way, but don't know us yet. We want to open some new eyes.”
Bridges said the LPO is planning to arrange an event at the track for one of the racing nights, and possibly arrange for the car to appear at party events. “Just as we look at our sponsorship as a way to bring us to the attention of new people, we also want to use it to energize and involve our volunteers and supporters,” Bridges said.
COLUMBUS—The Libertarian Party of Ohio congratulates Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on his change of mind on the issue of marriage equality. On Thursday, March 14, Portman told CNN that he had changed his opinion, and now favors people having equal access to legal marriage regardless of sexual orientation or identification. Portman cited the fact that his son had revealed to the family that he is gay two years ago as a pivotal point in his change of mind.
In an op-ed piece appearing in the Columbus Dispatch, Portman stated, “I have come to believe that if two people are prepared to make a lifetime commitment to love and care for each other in good times and in bad, the government shouldn’t deny them the opportunity to get married.” He went on to say that discovering his son was gay caused him to reexamine his position.
John Fockler, deputy communications director of the LPO, has been an announced candidate for Portman’s seat in the 2016 election since late last year. “I’m very pleased to have Senator Portman join us on this issue that affects the happiness and well-being of so many Ohioans,” Fockler said. “He may have been a bit late to the party, but then again, so was President Obama. The important thing is that he’s with us now.”
The Libertarian position on marriage equality starts with the idea that, in a perfect world, marriage, like all other areas of people’s personal lives, would be none of the government’s business. The government would limit itself enforcing contracts voluntarily entered into by consenting adults. Many Libertarians acknowledge, though, that government recognition of marriage is thoroughly integrated into our society, and assert that since that is the case, equal protection under the law requires that the advantages and privileges be available to everyone equally. This has been the party’s position since its founding in 1971.
Noting that Sen. Portman had come under some criticism because family considerations led him to reconsider his position instead of reaching the conclusion without personal influences, Fockler said, “I don’t think it’s important why he has decided the way he has. Most of us who support marriage equality have been influenced in some way by people we know and care about.”
“I look forward to meeting Senator Portman in 2016,” Fockler concluded. “We will still have many issues to talk about. As far as I’m concerned, though, marriage equality is now off the table. I welcome the senator to the side of liberty on this issue.”
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.