During a noisy and at times entertaining event at a sports bar in Columbia, Maryland, the Maryland Libertarians chose David Lashar, an IT policy professional and former Hogan administration official, to be their gubernatorial candidate.
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“Turn right at the last pool table,” said Maryland Libertarian Party supporters as they arrived at Nottingham’s, the Columbia sports bar where the party’s nominating convention was being held Monday night.
Was it a metaphor?
“I hope they behave in this,” said a visitor as he entered the bar.
“I’m not judging,” replied the bouncer at the front door.
In a noisy, and at times entertaining, event, in a room next to the main bar, the Maryland Libertarians chose David Lashar, an IT policy professional and former Hogan administration official, to be their gubernatorial candidate . And they named Christiana Logansmith, a Navy veteran and owner of a sales and marketing business to be their candidate for lieutenant governor.
Maryland became a purple state in the gubernatorial election – Republicans have won three of the last five – and on the sidelines, the nomination of smaller political parties for 2022 may matter.
Libertarians often project a confused and angry mix of passionate political positions – “such a beautiful philosophy,” said one of the party’s rising stars, Rock Hall City Council member James Cook.
But in Lashar, Maryland party leaders believe they have found a rational and sane messenger who projects reflection and moderation. Its campaign posters and literature say “Tolerance & Responsibility… just like you! “
“He is a good communicator and someone who knows the issues very well,” said Robert L. Johnston, a former president of the state party.
Lashar described himself as a former Reagan Republican who was most impressed by Reagan’s sidekick Jack Kemp, former Congressman and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. He began to be disillusioned with the GOP because of the Iraq war, backed former Ohio Governor John Kasich during the 2016 Republican presidential primary, but was appalled at the way Kasich was kicked out from the party by President Trump and his loyalists, and decided to quit the GOP itself.
Lashar was the libertarian candidate for Congress in the 3rd District in 2018, winning 2.6% of the vote in a race that U.S. Representative John P. Sarbanes (D) won with 69.1%. But he remained active in organizing and strengthening the party apparatus in Maryland.
Lashar may share some of the party’s hodgepodge of positions, but he is framing his platform in a way that restores voter confidence in government and political discourse. He describes it as “an opportunity for all, a meaning for all, the responsibility of all and civility towards all”.
He also says his experience as the chief IT officer for the Maryland Department of Health, followed by a stint as the agency’s chief of staff, is a major selling point in this campaign.
“As the person nominated by Hogan, I have gained experiences and achievements that will make me a very strong candidate and, if elected, could make me the most qualified candidate for the governorship that the ‘State has never seen it,’ said Lashar.
Lahsar thinks there is so much discontent with the Republican and Democratic parties that he can actually win. And he has vowed to serve only one term as governor. Lashar also praised the two main candidates for governor.
“Peter Franchot, I’m here to tell you, was a great controller,” Lashar said of the leading Democratic candidate. Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly M. Schulz, the establishment favorite of the GOP, he added, “has served the state well.”
But, he said, they have relied on staff members to make an impact in government, while his track record is based on his own accomplishments. “I was the one who was relied on to get things done at the Ministry of Health,” he said.
As the evening wore on – Libertarians also nominated a handful of candidates for state legislative office – the snapping of pool cues hitting billiard balls in the adjoining room intensified, as did the panting screams from the Monday Night Football pre-game telecast.
Many of the 40 or so libertarian activists in attendance looked like disgruntled Republicans – although party leaders regularly argue that the party and its candidates can appeal to Democrats and Independents as well. But the political sentiments expressed in the room could serve as a predictor and bad news for the GOP, if the 2022 gubernatorial election proves as close as many think.
jkurtz @ marylandmatters