With hopes high that this is the year they will finally earn major party status, the Libertarian Party of Minnesota endorsed a slate of four candidates at its state convention in Maple Grove on Saturday.
First time office seeker and party newcomer Chris Holbrook earned the nod as the gubernatorial endorsee. In the only contested race, Heather Johnson, the LPMN’s secretary, bested Mary O’Connor on the second ballot in the U.S. Senate contest.
Keegan Iverson and Chris Dock were endorsed for state auditor and lieutenant governor, respectively.
Holbrook, a 43 year-old construction materials salesman and rental property owner who lives in St. Paul, said he hopes to capitalize on his support for full marijuana legalization and will campaign under the slogan “Legalize. Minimize.”
Philosophically, Holbrook said he supports full legalization of all drugs but that is not currently realistic. He also favors an immediate repeal of existing bans on Sunday liquor sales and fireworks.
Holbrook originally intended to seek the LPMN nomination for the Second Congressional District. He switched to the gubernatorial race after the party’s presumptive candidate, Christopher Koch, abruptly cancelled his run.
“Nobody knows who I am and I’ve always liked it that way,” Holbrook said in his speech to delegates. He said he felt compelled “to come out of my shell and represent my beliefs” after joining the LPMN about a year ago. “I finally took the Blue Pill and escaped the Matrix,” he said.
An admirer of Ron Paul, Holbrook said he has never belonged to a political party but has attended tax protests, political rallies and volunteered for candidates.
Thirty-seven delegates participated in the selection process. All told, about 170 people turned out for convention, an all-day event at the Cambria Inn and Suites, capped by an End Prohibition-themed after-party.
Andy Burns, the LPMN executive director, said that was a marked increase from last year’s convention, which was attended by about 110 people.
The LPMN needs one of its candidates to crack the 5 percent threshold needed to obtain major party status. While Libertarians are the most successful third party on a national level, they have struggled in Minnesota, consistently lagging behind the Independence Party.