Maryland Matters: Libertarian Presidential Candidate Delivers Signatures for Maryland Ballot

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Joe Bishop-Henchman, Bob Johnston, and Jo Jorgensen at petition turn-in at state Board of Elections
(L to R) Joe Bishop-Henchman, Bob Johnston, Jo Jorgensen

From Maryland Matters on August 5, 2020:

Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen presented more than 7,000 signatures to the State Board of Elections Monday, which she hopes will more than fulfill Maryland’s requirement to appear on the state ballot for president.

“I’m running for president because government is too big, too bossy, too nosy, too intrusive, and the worst part is it tends to hurt the very people that they try to help,” Jorgensen, a senior lecturer in psychology at Clemson University, said as she delivered her papers.

About 30 people lined the sidewalks of Annapolis’ West Street as Jorgensen exited a big blue campaign bus adorned with her face. Bob Johnston, chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland, followed as she walked to the Board of Elections office, three cardboard beer boxes of petitions in tow, bearing 7,731 signatures.

The minimum requirement for third party candidates in Maryland is 5,000 valid voter signatures.

According to Joe Bishop-Henchman, chair of the Libertarian National Committee, Jorgensen has qualified to appear on the ballot in 42 of 50 states.

Bishop-Henchman said the party is still working toward meeting requirements in the other eight states.

“We want to get out there because Americans need another choice,” he said. “Americans need somebody who’s actually delivered real solutions for the pandemic and for the health care situation in this country; real solutions on bringing our troops home and taking care of our veterans; and real solutions on so many of the other important issues.”

Krystal Woodworth, vice-chair of the Libertarian Party of Maryland, called Jorgensen “pragmatic” and “radical”.

“She doesn’t compromise her message at all in order to appeal more to people, she’s principled, and she’s not going to change so people like her,” Woodworth said in an interview.

Addressing her supporters in a parking garage near the State Board of Elections office, Jorgensen thanked volunteers for pushing for her to be on the ballot.

“It’s just so important to be on the ballot in all 50 states,” she said, “because right now the status quo is giving us the impression that we have an alternative — that we have a choice, but we’ve got two big government people, they both want to increase spending, they both want to take away your decision-making power and neither one wants to bring the troops home, so the only way to get that choice to every American is to be on the ballot in all 50 states.”

Twice in her interview with Maryland Matters Jorgensen asserted that, if she were in the Oval Office, her first priority would be “bringing the troops home — day one.”

“Because that’s something I can do myself,” she said. “I don’t need Congress to do that. I don’t need their help to do that.”

She also recommended bringing overseas troops home as one solution to America’s major economic downturn brought on by the coronavirus crisis.

Despite its effect on every aspect of American life, the pandemic has not slowed Jorgensen. Annapolis was one of her first stops along her “20-city, 16-day bus tour,” going as far west as Kansas City, Mo. and Dallas, Tx.

Jorgensen jabbed at presumptive Democratic Nominee Joe Biden (D) for being “locked up in his basement giving Zoom interviews” while she is traveling around the country.

“I think this helps put us on a slightly equal footing,” she said, “although what we really need to be on an equal footing is to have me in the debates so that Americans can see a real choice.”

Biden and President Trump (R) are poised to face off in their first presidential debate next month. According to the Commission on Presidential Debates, neither of the 2016 election’s two third party candidates qualified to appear on the debate stage.

Many voters ready for a new president argue that a vote for anyone other than Biden is a de facto vote for Trump.

“First of all, I would say that that’s the last thing it is,” Jorgensen said, noting that there are states that traditionally vote red or blue regardless of the candidate.

For instance, Jorgensen lives in South Carolina, where she said the Republican candidate wins every time.

“We were one of only six states that carried Bob Dole [in the 1996 presidential election against Bill Clinton], so it doesn’t matter who’s on the ballot. The Republican is going to win in South Carolina,” she said. “So I would suggest if you’re in South Carolina that if you are not happy with either system that you’re throwing away your vote by voting for Trump because he’s going to get the nomination anyway.”

“There are, like, 40 million Americans out there that lean Libertarian, and if everybody voted the way they really wanted to then we would win in a landslide.”

Because of the pandemic, the nation has been conflicted about how to vote safely, and many states are struggling to determine the best way to carry out the election.

Last week, Trump tweeted that the election should be delayed to avoid universal mail-in voting, which he wrote would lead to the most “INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT election in history.”  The president did not present any evidence that mail-in voting is related to voter fraud or inaccuracy.

Jorgensen said the date of the election should not be moved.

“We’ve been through much worse than this in our country,” she said. “And I just want to point out that my goal as president would be to make government so small that it wouldn’t even matter if people forgot to vote, that they could make their own choices in health care, environment, health, education, and so on, and that they wouldn’t even worry about who was in the White House.”

Asked twice whether she thought the election should be mail-in only or if polls should open, Jorgensen changed the subject and never answered the question.

She criticized the current administration’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that Trump should have lifted FDA restrictions on U.S.-made test kits and promoted testing for asymptomatic citizens.

Jorgensen earned her nomination the party’s candidate in May. Woodworth said that the Libertarian Party was accused of being “Russian trolls” because her nomination was announced at midnight.

“People were like, ‘Oh, it’s Russia, because it’s daytime in Russia,’” she said. “No, we just we just finished our process and we announced it as soon as it happened.”

Jorgensen is not new to the presidential ticket.  In 1996, she ran as the party’s vice-presidential candidate alongside author and radio host Harry Browne, and campaigned in 38 states.

Browne ran again in 2000. He died six years later.

According to her campaign website, Jorgensen officially joined the party in 1983. She ran for Congress in South Carolina’s 4th District on the Libertarian ticket in 1992.

Jorgensen’s running mate, Jeremy “Spike” Cohen, is a podcast host and former web designer. Before partnering with Jorgensen, New York Magazine’s Intelligencer reported Cohen was the prospective running mate of Vermin Supreme, the Libertarian candidate noted for sporting a boot atop his head.

Woodworth called Cohen “hipper” and attractive to younger voters, adding that he and Jorgensen make a solid pair.

“She has all the experience that’s needed, and then he has this hip energy and a way of explaining libertarianism to the young people that brings them in and then they stay for Jo,” she explained.

Thanks to David Lashar for arranging the interview.