Olean Libertarian presidential debate

OLEAN — Olean will take a dive into the 2020 presidential election this weekend.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, at Olean High school auditorium the Cattaraugus County Libertarian Party will host candidates from New Hampshire to Mexico seeking the party’s nomination for president.

The candidates set to appear include:

  • New Hampshire state Rep. Max Abramson, a three-term legislator who switched from the Republican Party two days before announcing his run for president in June. He is the only Libertarian to hold an elected state or federal post at this time.
  • Ken Armstrong, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer who served as a UN and NATO advisor during the Bosnian War, among other postings.
  • Dan Behrman, a software engineer living in Mexico.
  • Daniel Christmann, a plumber and electrician from New York City.
  • Jedi Hill, an author of a book about alchemy.
  • Sam Robb, a software engineer from Pittsburgh.
  • Vermin Supreme, a satirical candidate who visited Olean this summer. Known for wearing a rubber boot on his head, he also campaigns on a platform of forcing all Americans to brush their teeth and providing a pony to all citizens.
  • Arvin Vohra, former national vice chair of the party and candidate for several state and federal positions in Maryland.

“The goal for the evening will be to remind people that third parties have always played an important role in shaping American history and that third parties are more likely to win in rural areas like our’s than they are in urban areas,” said county party Chairman Luke Wenke. “If the Libertarian party tapped into small towns like Olean across the entire country by hosting these debates in all 50 states’ rural parts, millions of untapped voters could be shifted into a new direction.”

While the party is one of the smallest in the county — only the Serve America Movement has fewer members — it is the fastest growing. According to the state Board of Elections on Friday, there are 86 registered Libertarians in Cattaraugus County, up from four in February.

The party only recently began being counted by the state. The threshold for separate party accounting is the party’s gubernatorial candidate must receive at least 50,000 votes in the most recent election. Thanks to candidate Larry Sharpe receiving 95,033 votes, the party is guaranteed a spot on the ballot until 2022.

In their first outing on the ballot, the local party saw mixed results in Tuesday’s local elections. Party candidates for local offices and the Cattaraugus County were defeated in all of their races, but members of other parties cross-endorsed by the Libertarian Party saw better results.

Republican George Borrello was elected to the state Senate, while the two Democrats endorsed by Libertarians for Cattaraugus County Legislature District 8, Adam Jester and John Crawford, are trailing slightly for a seat behind Republican Rick Smith. That race will be decided by absentee ballots later this month.

Democrat Alan Bernstein, who was unopposed and endorsed by five parties including the Libertarians, was re-elected county clerk.

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

(Contact City Editor Bob Clark at bclark@oleantimesherald.com. Follow him on Twitter, @OTHBob)

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