Jaimes Brown and Colorado's Libertarians are bringing the party to the people for the first time
At the 2008 Libertarian National Convention in Denver, some party members derisively passed around shots of Scope to wash the bad taste from their mouths following the presidential nomination of former Republican, Bob Barr.
It wasn't just that Barr was seen as an impure strain of Libertarian; some members felt he had hi-jacked the proceedings by manipulating the sparsely attended, convention-style nomination process.
So the Colorado Libertarian Party, still bitter about controversy, decided to change the way it holds its statewide primaries, opening it up to a public vote for the first time ever.
The gubernatorial race was a two-man battle between Jaimes Brown, a realtor from Centennial, and Dan "Kilo" Sallis, an Internet entrepreneur from Littleton. Brown handily defeated Sallis for the right to join an already crowded field of candidates in a year when Democrat John Hickenlooper could have a relatively easy path to power.
Now, Brown is hitting the road alongside Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Mac Stringer and CU regent candidate Jesse Wallace for a six-week statewide tour. Labeled the "Paul Revere Liberty Tour," it will stop in more than fifteen cities.
Along the way, Brown and company plan to name-check another third-party candidate, former U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo, who left the Republican Party last month to become the American Constitution Party's Colorado gubernatorial candidate.
Tancredo has put a bigger focus on third parties this year -- and will likely become a spoiler for GOP candidate Dan Maes. So the Libertarian tour will discuss their support of "approval voting," a concept that would allow voters to vote for more than one candidate for an office. Approval voting would help do away with spoilers, they say.
And despite the Barr fiasco, Brown says he welcomes Tancredo into the race. "As a third party candidate, he's really shining a light on the fact that it's the two-party system that's broken. I also like it because he's a conservative guy who opposes the drug war. As a Libertarian, I get tired of being viewed as the pot party."
Brown doesn't have any illusions about his chances for governorship, however. Instead, he says that his campaign's success will be measured by a different metric.
"The main reason that I'm running is to encourage both Republicans and Democrats to be better Libertarians. I want Democrats to understand and embrace the principles of the free market and Republicans to abandon their socially conservative platform," he says.
And like approval voting, you won't hear most of Brown's ideas discussed by the two mainstream parties. If elected, Brown says he would abolish state income taxes. He's also an advocate for the abolition of what he calls the "sex, drugs and rock and roll laws" that currently regulate marijuana and prostitution.
That's one of the benefits of being an outsider party candidate, he adds. Brown can mine the margins for what he feels are ignored systemic deficiencies or touch on issues that might make establishment politicos squirm.
"It's a baby-steps kind of process. We know we can't just flip a switch and go back to the principles the country was founded on," he says.