Meet Marshall Burt, Who’s About To Become the Libertarian Party’s Only Sitting State Legislator
Given the party’s track record, any Libertarian running for a statewide office would have to be full of almost nutty hubris to expect to win. But next year Marshall Burt will become the only sitting Libertarian state legislator, in Wyoming, and one of only five persons to ever win such a seat solely as a Libertarian. And he says he entered his race certain that he not only could but would win it.
“Being a Marine, I don’t have a notion of failure, right? I didn’t have the notion of failing or I wouldn’t have started,” Burt said in a phone interview yesterday. There were other ways he could have spent $10,000 and months of his time than on a failing political campaign, and he thinks anything less than running to win is just useless “lip service” to the cause.
Burt believed in the plausibility of the party’s “Frontier Project” model. Libertarian political operative Apollo Pazell saw that chances for actual victory likely involved races where a very small number of total votes was required to win, and where only one major party opponent was on the ballot. Pazell pushed hard this year in a handful of Wyoming races with those qualities, and Burt pushed over the top with a 276-vote edge over incumbent Democrat Stan Blake, and a total of 1,696 votes.
It’s a model that may not be not widely transferable elsewhere. Given Wyoming’s Trumpian tilt (the president got 70 percent of the vote there), it is no coincidence that the only Wyoming race the Libertarian Party actually won is Burt’s, since he was the only one up against a Democrat and not a Republican. The GOP overwhelmingly won seats both contested and uncontested for Wyoming’s state House. Despite having very high expectations for returning candidate Bethany Baldes in District 55, who lost a race in 2018 by only 53 ballots, she lost again this year, against a Republican, by 32 votes.
Burt spent nine years in the Marine Corps and currently works as a track inspector for Union Pacific railroads. Pazell recruited Burt off a party membership roll, then found his civic activism over such issues as an effort to save a local American Legion Hall in Burt’s hometown of Green River made him a good pick.
A thorough ground game—including up to eight door knocks
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