Editor’s Note: This is the second piece in an anthology highlighting the experiences of first time, third party candidate Joe Nichols. With Libertarian party registrations at record levels nationally, we expect to see more millennials like Joe challenge establishment incumbents in the near future. Part .01 of Rage Against the Machines can be found here.
Once the convention was over, it was time to start getting signatures for ballot access. Now we’re circling back around to the part where I was an independent candidate running on a Libertarian platform. Because I hadn’t changed my voter registration to “Libertarian” before the Governor’s Proclamation for the 2016 Election, I was required to run as an independent candidate and meet the requirements to be put on the ballot as an independent candidate instead of a minor party candidate. I needed to get three times as many nominating signatures than I would have had to as a minor party candidate. In the end it didn’t matter because I turned about 500 signatures in total, while the signature requirement was only a little over 170.
After I had secured ballot access, I needed to start building a platform to run on. I wanted to find a way to stand out from my opponent, James Townsend, State Representative for District 54, but I found we agreed on many issues. At least it appeared that way.
Upon further review I found while claiming to support “Lower taxes so you can keep more of your money,” he voted twice to give local and county governments another means of raising taxes on their citizens, once by way of a county gross receipts tax at the county level and once by way of a fuel tax imposed by local governments. Those bills were Senate Bill 105 and Senate Bill 114 from the 2015 Legislative Session if you’d like to look them up.
Another interesting duplicity that I found was that while claiming to support “Smaller government” Representative Townsend voted to require new occupational licensing, extend the sunset on multiple occupational boards, create a “Rapid Workforce Development Fund”, and to allow “Spaceport America” to obtain a liquor license. These are just a few of the examples. There are more as well. These pieces of legislation were House Bill 551, House Bill 90, Senate Bill 275 and Senate Bill 318 in the 2015 Legislative Session and House Bill 166, Senate Bill 142 and Senate Bill 147 in the 2016 Legislative Session.
After finding this information I decided to develop my platform around “Restricting Government and Empowering People.” I ran on the ideas of protecting private property rights, defending the 2nd amendment, fighting for school choice, and encouraging economic growth. Representative Townsend and I had platforms that looked similar, but his voting record told a differing story.