A Short History of the Kansas Libertarian Party
By Steven A. Rosile
The Kansas Libertarian Party’s roots, as best as I can discern, lie in an Objectivist Group at Friends University in Wichita in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. As you may infer from their name, they were fans of Ayn Rand (author of Atlas Shrugged and Anthem, among other works) and the objectivist philosophy she advocated.
This group had two factions. One faction wanted to get involved in the political process and one faction did not. After the Libertarian Party was founded in December, 1971 in Colorado Springs (by members of Young Americans For Freedom and Young Republicans that were outraged by then President Nixon’s closing the “gold window” at the US Treasury for redemption by foreigners of US currency for gold at a fixed price and thus ending the dollar’s backing in gold and his calling for domestic wage and price controls) the faction of the Friends University objectivist group that wanted to get politically active did so by founding the Kansas Libertarian Party.
They were unable to get the 1972 Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Dr. John Hospers and Ms Toni Nathan on the ballot in Kansas in 1972 but they did appear on the ballot in a handful of states and in one of those, New Hampshire, Republican Presidential Elector Roger McBride, disgusted by the actions of President Nixon mentioned above, cast his Electoral College vote for the Libertarians. This made Libertarian Vice Presidential Candidate Toni Nathan the first woman in history to win an electoral Vote!
In 1976 that same Roger McBride was the Libertarian Party Presidential Candidate with David Bergland as his running mate. The Kansas Libertarian Party was able to successfully petition to get these two candidates on the ballot in Kansas as Independent Presidential Candidates. The Kansas Libertarian Party was not a ballot qualified party yet as the requirements for gaining that status were very difficult to achieve.
The Koch family of Kansas (Koch Engineering) became involved with the national and Kansas Libertarian Party around this time. In 1980 David Koch was the Libertarian Party Candidate for Vice President and Ed Clark was the LP’s Presidential Candidate. With David Koch putting over $1 million into funding the campaign they were able to garner just over 1% of the popular vote total, slightly less than 1 million votes.
In 1988 Dr Ron Paul was the Libertarian Party candidate for President. While campaigning for the Libertarian Nomination he visited Kansas and spoke at the Kansas Libertarian Party Convention Banquet in Wichita.
The Kansas (and national) Libertarian Party struggled with ballot access and recognition as a political party. In the late 1980’s a lawsuit was filed in Kansas over the stringent requirements for recognition as a political party, allowing voters to register as Libertarians and having our candidates listed on the ballot as being affiliated with the Libertarian Party.
This lawsuit resulted in new procedures and lower numbers for petitioning to get our Party and our candidates on the ballot in Kansas. In 1990 a petition drive was spearheaded and funded by John Foster of Wichita to get the Kansas Libertarian Party and Libertarian candidates on the ballot in Kansas for the 1992 elections. This effort was successful and under the new laws the Kansas Libertarian Party received enough votes to be recognized as a minor political party. This allowed (for the first time) Kansans to register as voters affiliated with the Libertarian Party and our candidates to be listed on the ballot as Libertarians.
The Kansas Libertarian Party has earned enough votes in elections to remain ballot qualified continuously since 1992. This has saved us from the expense and hassle of petitioning to get on the ballot as many state Libertarian Parties have had to do in states that have difficult ballot access requirements. This allows us more time and resources to campaign with and we work hard to maintain our ballot qualified status.
The Kansas Libertarian Party has been an all volunteer operation since it was founded. This is something we are very proud of as it means that all financial contributions are used to maintain and grow the party, not to pay someone’s salary.
We welcome new members and appreciate all efforts to advance the cause of liberty.