Montana November Ballot Will List One Libertarian, Not Two Libertarians, for U.S. Senate

On June 8, Jerry McConnell withdrew from the U.S. Senate race in Montana. McConnell and Dan Cox had both filed to run in the Libertarian Party primary for U.S. Senate earlier this year. Montana Secretary of State Linda McCulloch had then ruled that both men would be listed on the November ballot as candidates for U.S. Senate. But now that McConnell has withdrawn, the only Libertarian on the November ballot for U.S. Senate will be Dan Cox.

The Montana election law is internally contradictory, on whether the state should have provided a primary for the Libertarian Party. Section 13-10-601 says, “Each political party that had a candidate for statewide office who received a total vote that was 5% or more of the total votes cast for the successful candidate for governor in either of the last two general elections shall nominate its candidates for public office, except for presidential electors, by a primary election as provided in this chapter.”

The Libertarian Party polled 5.74% of the vote in November 2010 for U.S. House, which was well above the vote requirement. But another part of the Montana election code says parties may not have a primary unless they have nominees for at least half the partisan offices, and although there are quite a few Libertarian candidates in 2012, the number of Libertarian candidates does not equal at least half the partisan offices up for election this year.

The Secretary of State’s earlier decision, saying she would not hold a Libertarian primary, was somewhat irrational. She should have ruled since the party couldn’t have a primary, she would let it nominate by convention. Instead she said she would put both Libertarians on in November, thus depriving the party of its chance to nominate. But, in the end, thanks to McConnell’s withdrawal, it turned out satisfactorily. Thanks to Tim Brace for this news.


  1. You have to wonder if the Republican candidate Dennis Rehberg got involved to force or payoff this McConnell to drop out. Can the Libertarians up in Montana appoint another candidate, if they wish?

  2. Richard Winger · · Reply

    Libertarians have a candidate on the November 2012 ballot right now. He is Dan Cox. He is one of the two Libertarians who had filed in the Libertarian primary.

    His chances of being in general election debates are now greatly enhanced. If there had been two Libertarians, probably both of them would have been excluded.

  3. Jim Riley · · Reply

    #1 Montana law permits a replacement in the case of a vacancy in nomination, in cases where a nominee dies or withdraws. But presumably, the SOS would determine that no vacancy exists, since there is still a co-nominee.

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