While one candidate was expected, the Libertarian Party of Louisiana, according to Executive Director Wendy Adams, is “Excited” about the prospect of having 2 candidates qualify for the October 19th Special Election to fill the unexpired term caused by the resignation of Rodney Alexander. Alexander is resigning to become the head of Veteran’s Affairs for the Jindal Administration. He may also have his eye on a possible Gubernatorial run in 2015.
14 candidates, including 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats, along with 2 Independents and a Green Party candidate have also qualified.
One Libertarian candidate, Henry Herford, is well known in political circles and has strong grass roots support among statewide Libertarians. Herford was a member of the Republican Party State Central Committee and was a delegate for Ron Paul at the state party convention in 2012. In fact, Herford was elected Chairman of the 2012 Republican State Convention. At the convention, Herford was assaulted by Shreveport police when, according to the police, he refused to leave.
Herford, a self-described “lifetime seeker of knowledge”, has a Masters Degree in Education from Mississippi State University, attended Louisiana Tech and earned a Rural Economic Development Certificate, and is a licensed Realtor. He resides in Delhi, a small town along I-20 almost midway between Monroe and Vicksburg, MS.
On his website, www.herfordforcongress.com, he lists “The Herford Plan”:
…Strengthen the economy and restore freedom by reducing the size and scope of government
…Protect the 2nd Amendment
…Stop the corruption and impose Congressional term limits of 3 two-year terms (6 years)
…Ending overseas wars that are not declared by Congress
…Cutting taxes and business regulations
Many of these points sound like a traditional Conservative Republican’s platform until you get to the Social Issues of “The Herford Plan”:
…”We must keep the Federal Government out of social issues and not divide the people. Decriminalize marijuana, regulate it like alcohol, and take it off the streets and out of the hands of our children.”
“Democrats promote social welfare while Republicans promote corporate welfare,” LPL Executive Director Wendy Adams said. "As each party gains control they implement spending in their preferred programs, but they will never reduce the size the government has grown to be. A third party candidate will challenge the establishment and rein the government in.”
The other Libertarian candidate in the race was a surprise. S.B.A. Zaitoon, a Syrian-born Baton Rouge insurance underwriter, is a dark horse considering that Baton Rouge isn’t within the geographical confines of the 5th Congressional District. Zaitoon sought the position of State Insurance Commissioner and received 10.6% of the vote (60,175 votes) in 2006. Then, Zaitoon ran on a platform of abolishing the Department of Insurance, and thus, the position that he was seeking. Obviously, that position resonated with at least 10.6% of the voters.
In fact, Zaitoon still has $400 in outstanding late fees for filing campaign finance reports late with the State Ethics Board from his ill-fated 2006 campaign.
While Zaitoon rightfully points out that it’s not a requirement for him to live in the District that he is running for, it certainly makes it much more difficult to get elected. In an interview with the Alexandria Town Talk, Zaitoon was not aware that the District did not include Baton Rouge.
This will be the first major election since the Libertarian Party’s revamping under Executive Director Adams. The party now has 12 Parish Executive Committees (PECs) including 4 within the 5th Congressional District.
That focus at the local level may help the Libertarian Party garner more disenfranchised Democrats, Republicans and Independents and help the party become a legitimate 3rd party option for Louisiana voters.
Democrats comprise 50% of the registered voters in District 5, while Republicans and Independents split the remaining half with slightly more registered Republicans at 27.5%.
In 2012, Randall Lord received 24.7% of the vote (61,637 votes) in his race for the 4th Congressional District seat that re-elected John Fleming (R-Minden). Lord was the only challenger.
With a lower than expected turnout for the Special Election, a split within the Republican Party between State Senator Neil Riser and PSC Commissioner Clyde Holloway, and 3 current and 1 former Democratic elected officials in the race, it is entirely possible that a Libertarian who gets out the vote could capture the seat.
Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for different results.
“If we continue doing what we’re doing with the two parties, we’ll just continue growing government,” LPL Executive Director Adams said.
Libertarians are hoping that voters in the 5th Congressional District don’t continue the insanity, or growing government.
The 5th Congressional District is the largest geographically of the Congressional Districts and runs from Northeast Louisiana, along the Mississippi border and through Alexandria and a portion of Acadiana and concludes at the Mississippi State Line in Washington Parish.