The state of Wyoming isn’t exactly an anti-gun paradise. It’s a pro-gun state where even their Democrats tend to tread lightly when the subject of gun control comes up. Among other things. After all, it’s a pretty red state.
Yet even there, we can sometimes find seats where a Democrat was set to run unopposed.
Well, one Democrat went down in defeat to a Libertarian.
Given the party’s track record, any Libertarian running for a statewide office would have to be full of almost nutty hubris to expect to win. But next year Marshall Burt will become the only sitting Libertarian state legislator, in Wyoming, and one of only five persons to ever win such a seat solely as a Libertarian. And he says he entered his race certain that he not only could but would win it.
“Being a Marine, I don’t have a notion of failure, right? I didn’t have the notion of failing or I wouldn’t have started,” Burt said in a phone interview yesterday. There were other ways he could have spent $10,000 and months of his time than on a failing political campaign, and he thinks anything less than running to win is just useless “lip service” to the cause.
Burt was part of a Libertarian Party effort that focused on small races in districts that were unopposed.
He’s also the only one who won their race. Then again, it seems he was the only one in the state to actually win. You see, he was the only one up against a Democrat instead of a Republican.
The key, though, was focusing on values Republican voters could rally behind.
Burt’s local activism, on behalf of local Marines and vets and with the fire department, likely gave him a head start with local voters, since many already had some reason to know and trust him. Burt ran a largely Republican-friendly campaign that emphasized the Second Amendment, new ideas in education, and making the state more attractive to diversified industries without relying on taxes and regulations. He was especially against any attempts to pass “red flag” laws that might allow unelected officials to “come in and confiscate guns, and put the burden on the [citizen] to prove they meet legal requirements to get their guns back.”
In other words, he ran a pro-Second Amendment campaign and won with it.
Libertarians are known for being pro-gun. In fact, as a party, they’re arguably more pro-gun than Republicans. After all, the GOP has members who are considering things like red flag laws, universal background checks, and that backed the bump stock ban. The difference is, Republicans can get elected to office.
And yet, Burt did.
However, the strategy that elevated Burt to office was one which may see Libertarians make some state-level gains and maybe even make it into Congress, but it’s unlikely to work everywhere.
For example, it seems that while voters are willing to vote for a Libertarian candidate if there’s no Republican, they won’t side with a Libertarian if there are no Democrats running. That’s based on what we saw in Wyoming, at least.
Still, it’s a strategy I’d like to see tested a few other places. Who knows, it might be enough to flip some blue states a completely different color at some point in the future. If so, how many anti-gun states might turn out to be less anti-gun than we think?
That’s just speculation, though, but it could be interesting to watch and see if it pans out.