Libertarians Bring National Convention To Columbus, Focused On 2016

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Overshadowed by talk this year of Columbus bidding to host both the Republicans and Democrats and their national conventions in 2016, Libertarians are holding an event of their own which is a first for the Capitol City.

"It's the first time for any national political convention to be held in Columbus," said Kevin Knedler, chairman of the Ohio Libertarian Party.  "We decided to hold it here back in August, 2011 and we've had a few years to plan for it."

According to Knedler, about 700 Delegates are expected from all 50 states for the weekend-long convention.

Unlike Democrats and Republicans, the Libertarians hold a national convention every two years instead of four.

"Libertarians are different, we're not like the legacy parties," said Knedler.  "We like to keep the momentum and enthusiasm going."

Knedler admits this was a tough year for Ohio Libertarians who struggled to get a slate of candidates on the fall statewide ballot.

Charlie Earl, their candidate for governor, was disqualified by Secretary of State Jon Husted earlier this year after his nominating petitions were challenged.

"Some of it was ourselves trying to find people to fill the roles," said Knedler.  "I'm not of the mindset that we had to have every role filled.  We are forced to run somebody for governor.  Ohio law says to stay on the ballot we have to run somebody for governor.  I wish that was different.  I wish we had a different vote test, like Secretary of State or Auditor, but the people downtown won't hear that."

Knedler says unlike other third-parties, Libertarians are emerging as more competitive – especially with younger voters.

“This isn't your grandmother's Libertarian Party,” said Knedler.  “This party is different.  It's different today than when I joined ten years ago.  It's more articulate. There is some pragmatism.  There are people who are focused on winning elections.”

The convention runs through Sunday.