Earlier today, a group of people gathered on the State House steps in Concord, New Hampshire. Attendees soon discovered that the Libertarian Party of New Hampshire had an announcement to make. A freshman Democrat state representative, Joseph Stallcop, from Keene was defecting to join the Libertarian Party. He cited his upset with the government use of force against pipeline protestors in North Dakota and his “classic liberal” values conflicting with his party. This marks the third defection from the Democrats in just a few months, the other two switching to Republican.
Earlier in the year, Caleb Dyer, a Republican, became the first to switch to the Libertarian Party, now that it has ballot access. With Stallcop joining him, the duo now has the right to form a Libertarian caucus in the statehouse and receive meeting space. They also expect more defections now. New Hampshire is now the only state with a functioning libertarian party, which is unsurprising given how many libertarians are moving here and already live here. Indeed, Dyer is a native and Stallcop is a Keene State College student and from Connecticut. It is not clear if he signed with the Free State Project. Previously, the LPNH had four state reps in the 1990s. And a Democrat defected in 2000 and won reelection that year as a Libertarian. He later returned to the Democrats and died earlier this year.
With this and the ballot access making it much easier to run as a Libertarian, it is expected that several dozen people will do so, including these two. How many might win is a function of several factors, but New Hampshire having a low population to representative ratio (about 3000) makes it very possible that quite a few could. There were 84 unopposed state rep races last year, one of which Stallcop was in, which should be prime libertarian targets. Even aside that, many districts saw lopsided results that libertarians could help balance. On top of that, New Hampshire is a semi-fusion state, meaning that candidates can run under two party lines, which makes winning a bit easier. A candidate can only file to run in one primary (the Libertarian Party is entitled to primaries as well, which has created and unfortunate waste of paper in recent special elections where none ran), but if at least 35 people write the same person in, and they get more votes than anyone else in that primary, they win access there too. Its quite probable that some Libertarian candidates and existing liberty Democrats and Republicans will try this move to improve their chances of winning and be more representative.
New Hampshire continues to lead the nation in advancing libertarianism. Over two thousand people have moved here to help with that effort, or at least to live in one of the most libertarian states in the country. It is also likely the one state we can and have had the greatest influence on government to reduce its power. Indeed, in the past few years, all knife laws were repealed, constitutional carry was passed, decriminalization is in the works, budgets have been kept in check statewide and locally, and much more. There is still much work to be done, so I encourage you to make a visit and consider moving. I would be happy to show you around!