Justin Amash, a libertarian, seems unaware that he can vote for a libertarian

Aug 7, 2018 at 10:12 am
Justin Amash, a libertarian, seems unaware that he can vote for a libertarian
Courtesy photo

Ahead of today's primary election (go vote!), Republican Rep. Justin Amash — a self-described lowercase "L" libertarian — tweeted his support of Lt. Gov. Brian Calley for governor, on the basis that "there are no libertarians among the Michigan GOP candidates."

Apparently, Amash is unaware that he can actually vote for a real, capital "L" libertarian for governor. This year, Michigan is having its first Libertarian primary, thanks to presidential candidate Gary Johnson's strong polling numbers in the 2016 election. Perhaps due to the extreme unpopularity of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, Johnson earned 172,136 votes, or 3.6 percent — surpassing the 154,040-vote threshold necessary for his party to participate in the 2018 primary. It's the first time a non-Democrat or Republican has qualified for a gubernatorial party primary in almost 50 years.

We reached out to Greg Stempfle, political director of the Libertarian party of Michigan, for comment. "Well, I agree it's a true statement," he says. "There are no libertarians among the GOP candidates for governor. There are however two libertarians in the Libertarian primary! If any voter wants to support a candidate who will reduce the size and power of state government, the Republican Party does not offer such an option."

The Libertarian gubernatorial candidates are Grand Rapids businessman Bill Gelineau and retired Livonia schoolteacher and Army vet John Tatar. You can learn more about these candidates over at The Detroit News and Michigan Radio.

A campaign spokesperson says Amash is voting GOP so he can vote for himself — you can't split a ticket in the primary. "Rep. Amash is on the Republican ballot and is therefore voting on that ballot," she says. "We’re fully aware of the Libertarian candidates, but Rep. Amash is not going to pull a ballot that he’s not on. And on the Republican ballot, he only has a choice among Republicans."

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