As we noted in this space in June, Colorado Republican Party Chairman Dave Williams is trying to build an “alliance” with the Colorado Libertarian Party in an effort to prevent Libertarian candidates becoming “spoilers” in races that Republicans think they might otherwise be able to win. But in creating this alliance, Williams may also be backing some of his own candidates into a difficult corner.
The idea of a Republican/Libertarian alliance stems in part from a belief that Republican Barbara Kirkmeyer might have defeated Democrat Yadira Caraveo in the race for congress in CO-08 were it not for the presence of a Libertarian candidate named Dan Ward on the 2022 ballot. Caraveo defeated Kirkmeyer by a margin of just 1,902 votes, while Ward collected a total of 9,280 votes by himself. It’s certainly possible that Ward voters might have otherwise voted for Kirkmeyer, though it’s equally possible that thousands of of those voters would never have voted for Kirkmeyer in any scenario.
Making this entire scenario even harder to understand is the fact that Williams explicitly said in late June that he would make sure to find another Libertarian candidate in CO-08 if Kirkmeyer made another run at the seat. In other words, Kirkmeyer might have won if a Libertarian candidate had not been on the ballot, but Williams’ Republican Party wouldn’t have wanted Kirkmeyer to win anyway.
Williams is also leading a lawsuit to invalidate Colorado’s “open primary” law — which allows Unaffiliated voters to select a Democratic or Republican primary ballot — because of the belief from his hardcore MAGA base that only REAL Republicans should get to select Republican candidates for a General Election. Don’t try to make sense of this with some sort of logical unified theory — you’ll only develop a migraine.
Regardless, the Republican/Libertarian alliance has now advanced to the “litmus test” stage, as Erik Maulbetsch reports for the Colorado Times Recorder:
The Libertarian Party of Colorado [on Sunday] released pledges it expects Republican candidates to sign in order to prevent a Libertarian candidate from entering their race. There are separate pledges for federal and state candidates.
The first commitment a Republican running for federal office must make: “I will immediately work to pull funding for Ukrainian aid and push aggressively for peace negotiations with Russia.” They must also pledge to “abolish the Department of Education,” as well as “work towards… abolishing U.S. Intelligence agencies.”
The pledges are the result of a negotiation between GOP Chair Dave Williams and Libertarian Chair Hannah Goodman, designed to put forth liberty-minded Republicans who can challenge Democrats without a potential Libertarian spoiler.
As Maulbetsch notes, there are limits to the efficacy of any Republican/Libertarian agreement, since political parties in Colorado can’t officially prevent one of their members from seeking elected office. In congressional district three, for example, a Libertarian candidate named Mark Ellworth, Jr. filed paperwork recently to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert in 2024.
But if you are a Republican planning to seek elected office next year and you would like to have the official support of the Libertarian Party (and, theoretically, no Libertarian opponent), you must abide by some very specific rules:
State candidates must commit to a wide range of positions, some very general and others quite specific. General planks include standard one such as protecting TABOR and gun rights and opposing tax increases. However there are also commitments to “vote to eliminate the income tax,” band red light cameras and “support a version of the Defend the Guard Act,” which prevents national guard troops from being deployed to American military efforts. They must also promise to support “deregulating the medical marketplace,” and “food freedom, such as raw milk and local meat processing,” presumably in conflict with federal health regulations for dairy farmers and ranchers.
Federal candidates also must commit to a trio of very specific positions, namely not opposing presidential pardons for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, and Ross Ulbrecht, who founded Silk Road, a dark web marketplace which facilitated drug sales, money laundering and other illegal activities.
Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and Ross Ulbrecht? What year is this?
Check out Maulbetsch’s full story to see the complete Libertarian Party pledge list for both Federal and State candidates. Some of these issues mesh well with current Republican ideals, but some will be more difficult. Item #15 on the “State Pledge,” for example (I will introduce or support a version of the Defend the Guard Act), conflicts with Republican claims that the National Guard should be used for border control reasons:.
Some of the Libertarian pledges are flat-out unnecessary. Item #4 on the “State Candidate Pledge for Liberty” states that I will vote against tax increases, which is irrelevant because TABOR makes it impossible for elected officials to vote on tax increases.
Other promises are grammatically confusing, such as #6 on the “Federal Candidate Pledge for Liberty,” which states: I will include auditing the Federal Reserve in your two-year congressional plan. Um, what?
Some questions are also impossibly vague, such as #16 from the “State Pledge”: I will support food freedom, such as raw milk and local meat processing. What does that mean, exactly? Does agreeing to this mean that you are pro-salmonella?
Colorado Republicans have had a difficult time winning elections in the last decade. This won’t help. It’s not at all clear how the Colorado Libertarian Party even could prevent a candidate from running in a specific district, but we’d argue that boxing yourself in by making a bunch of (sometimes conflicting) promises is more harmful than preventing a relatively-small number of votes from a third-party opponent.