YAL’s Strategy to Elect Liberty Minded Candidates

By Kenneth Casey | United States

There’s no doubt that Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign brought the message of libertarianism and limited government to the mainstream. Some of the biggest support for his grassroots candidacy came from young people on college campuses. When his campaign concluded, the organization was founded with the intent of promoting liberty and educating students about libertarianism.

Since the formation of the organization ten years ago, members have engaged in many activities to promote the cause of liberty, such as protesting issues like wars and the national debt. They also host prominent libertarians to speak on college campuses such as Ron and Rand Paul, Andrew Napolitano, Justin Amash, among others.

The organization has done a great job of educating students unfamiliar to the idea of liberty and limited government, but they haven’t really been involved in the political electoral process in the past, which now they’re looking to change.

The organization has launched an effort to elect more liberty-minded individuals to state legislators across the country titled Operation Win At The Door through their 501(c)(4) arm.

According to their website, the reason why they are focusing on State Legislator races instead of Federal Legislative races because they believe it is more valuable to “build a pipeline, or bench, of activists to serve their communities at the local level.” Doing this, they believe, will in turn “naturally create an upward mobility of state-based leaders running for federal office, reinforcing the likes of Senator Rand Paul, Congressman Justin Amash, and Congressman Thomas Massie.”

They require candidates to take a survey which can be found here in order to determine whether or not the candidate’s positions and values coincide with that of Libertarianism. Among some of the questions asked include taxes, spending, state pensions, civil asset forfeiture, guns rights, foreign policy, drug reform, regulations, among other things. Viability is another thing they take into consideration, as they will support candidates who believe in their principles and have a sensible path to victory.

So far, 3 candidates supported by Young Americans for Liberty have won their state legislative primaries: Mayes Middleton in TX-23 who beat an incumbent establishment candidate, Savannah Maddox in Kentucky HD-61, and incumbent Matt Gurtler in Georga HD-08. Between the three, YAL was able to knock on an average of 31,236 doors for each candidate.

Along with the three victories, three candidates supported by the initiative have also lost their primaries so far. Thomas McNutt lost a runoff election in Texas HD-08, garnering 43% of the vote. Richard Bunce lost his primary in Nevada AD-22, also receiving about 43% of the vote. Britton Wolf unsuccessfully challenged an incumbent in South Carolina HD-71, collecting 25% of the vote, losing by around 2,000 votes.

The plan to help their selected candidates is by sending a group of students (around 10) to knock on around 30,000-35,000 doors in candidate’s districts. Many studies have shown door-to-door knocking is way better for candidate name recognition than paid ads can, and considering the average amount of votes in the primary’s of the three YAL candidates that won their races was 9,287, knocking on around 30,000 doors makes a significant impact. The end goal is to get 250 YAL endorsed candidates elected to State Legislators across the country by 2023.

Although most of the candidates that have earned support of the organization have been Republicans, Cliff Maloney, the president of Young Americans for Liberty, said in an interview with Reason that the organization is open to supporting any state legislative candidates that hold liberty principles dear and have a viable path to victory, whether they’re Republicans, Libertarians, or even Democrats. At the Libertarian Party Convention, Cliff recently announced that the group would support Laura Ebke, a Libertarian State Senator from Nebraska’s 32nd district, for re-election. She will go up against a “nonpartisan” labeled candidate supported by Nebraska’s establishment GOP governor in the general election in November.

Other candidates YAL have endorsed for the 2018 election cycle with upcoming primaries include:

  • Michael Fulbright, Tennessee HD-64 – Primary Election Date: August 2nd
  • Dirk Deaton, Missouri HD-159 – Primary Election Date: August 7th
  • Robert Stokes, Missouri HD-162 – Primary Election Date: August 7th
  • Steve Johnson, Michigan HD-72 – Primary Election Date: August 7th
  • Erik Mortensen, Minnesota HD-55A – Primary Election Date: August 14th
  • Cal Bahr, Minnesota HD-31B – Primary Election Date: August 14th
  • Shae Sortwell, Wisconsin AD-02 – Primary Election Date: August 14th
  • Matt Nye, Florida HD-52 – Primary Election Date: August 28
  • Stuart McDaniel, Arizona LD-6 – Primary Election Date: August 28th

Overall, they’ve endorsed 16 candidates so far this election cycle, with 3 ending up victorious in their primaries, 3 ending in defeat, with 10 more elections yet to go.

For more information about Young Americans for Liberty and Operation Win At The Door, you can visit their website: YALiberty.org

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