Minor Parties Struggle To Make Ballot, Raise Cash

Oct 27, 2014

The Green and Libertarian parties are fielding gubernatorial candidates this year.

Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler spoke with them.

There’s a Green Party ticket running for governor – Latina, labor and women’s rights activist Anita Rios leads it, with Columbus professor and lawyer Bob Fitrakis as her running mate. 

“We always run to win, but the bottom line is, if we get 2% of this vote, we maintain party status for our political party. That allows us to strengthen, to grow, and it makes it easier for our candidates who come after us to get on the ballot.”

But for the Libertarian Party of Ohio, this is a tough election. The party has been fighting in court to have Charlie Earl put back on the ballot – with no success. Executive director Kevin Knedler said without the possibility of getting a 2% vote in the governor’s race, a new law in place this year means Libertarians will also have to battle to be recognized as a minor party in Ohio. 
“This has all got to be worked out in the courts, unfortunately, but we do plan to stay on the ballot through ’15 and get a directive if we can. If not, then we have to take another course of action, of course, again. The basic decent thing to do is to allow voters to have choices on the ballot.”

Minor parties have long fought to appear on the ballot and to be included in debates and regular campaign coverage. Rios did debate Democratic candidate Ed FitzGerald at the City Club of Cleveland – Republican incumbent John Kasich declined to join them. Rios said she felt it was an important opportunity to talk to Democratic voters. 
“Although we do have some common ground with Ed FitzGerald, we’re very different. I’ve seen Ed FitzGerald identify himself as a fiscal conservative. I’m not a fiscal conservative. I have different ideas about how we have to change our economy. So I think it can be a very vibrant debate.”

Libertarians often have similar commonality with Republicans, and Knedler said that’s why most suspect Republicans of helping to get Charlie Earl removed from the governor’s race – though Republicans have denied involvement. Knedler said there’s a key quality separating Republicans from Libertarians, especially on social issues. 
“They draw the line. They say it’s not my business, it’s not the government’s business; it’s up to that individual to choose. And so that makes them a libertarian. We have a lot of different opinions in this party. But the bottom line is, we agree that it shouldn’t be the government dictating how a person lives their personal life.”

Both minor parties admit they haven’t raised much money, and can’t compete with the $4.5 million total raised by Democrat Ed FitzGerald or the $20 million total brought in by incumbent Republican John Kasich. It would be historic if either party were to get more than 2.4% of the vote in this gubernatorial election. Rios and Bob Fitrakis got a little over 1 percent when they ran in 2006, with Fitrakis as the candidate for governor and Rios as his running mate. And the Libertarians aren’t completely shut out of this year’s ballot – Bob Bridges is running for auditor, and Knedler appears as a candidate in the race for Secretary of State.