Ed Coleman is an Indianapolis City-County Councilman. He won election four years ago as a Republican running at-large, but before long, he grew very disenchanted with the Republican Party and the dictatorial leadership on the Council that wanted him to vote contrary to his principles and conscience, and toe the line. So, he defected to the Libertarian Party.
Ed is now running for re-election, as a Libertarian candidate, but this time running only for his district. The difference is gigantic, as an at-large candidate has to appeal to the entire city’s voters, while a district candidate can focus attention within the boundaries.
This weekend, the Libertarian National Committee (LNC) made a significant contribution to Ed’s campaign: $50,000. From the Libertarian Party of Indiana:
The Libertarian National Committee has voted to make a significant contribution to Re-election of Indianapolis City-County Councilor Ed Coleman. The LNC will contribute $50,000 to the highest ranking Libertarian official in the United States seeking to stay on the Council. Coleman was elected in 2007 to office as a Republican to an At-Large seat on the council, and switched after his punishment by the party for standing on libertarian principles.
“This is not just a game-changer for my race, but also for the entire Libertarian Party,” said Councilor Ed Coleman. “We hope this serves as a signal to all elected Republicans and Democrats that standing on principle doesn’t mean campaigning alone. The party of principle will work to help elect and re-elect Libertarians to make true change in the political arena. I would like to thank the LNC for recognizing this opportunity, and stepping up to keep the libertarian message moving forward.”
Coleman will use the additional funds to increase the footprint of his campaign. This is the most money that the national party has donated to a single candidate for their race.
“I am thrilled to see the LNC donate to the re-election of Ed,” said Sam Goldstein, Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Indiana. “I truly believe that this will become a watershed moment for the Libertarian Party in Indianapolis, Indiana, and on the national stage. Our party has made a statement that we are fully committed to electing and re-electing Libertarians to partisan office.”
This is a watershed moment of the second kind for me. The first goes back a few years to Andy Horning’s run for US House in Indiana’s 7th District, as a Republican.
Horning had been the face of the LPIN for many years, having run for Indy Mayor, Governor, and the same House seat as a Libertarian candidate before deciding that he’d had enough single digit returns, and he’d throw in with the GOP. His defection was a tough blow to take at the time. I thought the LP was in real trouble. If he won his race, the signal would be sent to any small-l libertarian: Run as a Republican. It’s the way to win. I like Andy, and would have been thrilled it he had won, so I can’t say ‘Fortunately, he lost’. What I can say is, fortunately the GOP bungled that. They promised him support and didn’t give it. They didn’t give him money, didn’t give him staffing, didn’t work behind the scenes for him. Nothing. So that’s what every small-l libertarian in Indiana learned. DON’T DRINK THE REPUBLICAN KOOL-AID!
Now this weekend stands in contrast. Ed Coleman wasn’t promised a thing by the LNC. He wasn’t promised anything by the LPIN or by then-County Chair Tim Maguire. If anything, Libertarian leadership warned Ed prior to jumping ship that life would be getting harder for him. But, when the moment of truth arrived, the LNC recognized the political landscape for what it is. Ed Coleman is the highest ranking elected Libertarian in the USA. So, the LNC put big money in his accounts.
Win or lose, the LNC sent a very different signal to small-l libertarians. Run as a Republican, you get the Andy Horning (or Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, etc) treatment. Run as a Libertarian, and you’ll get serious backing.
This is a big deal for me. For years and years, I have been a part of an intra-party struggle to push the LNC towards being a serious, election-focused party. Since its inception, there had been elements with this attitude, but larger elements more interested in the endless fine point arguments that aren’t ever going to get anyone elected.
Now it’s up to Ed Coleman to do something with that money. In addition to the $50,000 from the LNC, he apparently earned another $15,000. While $65k is nothing for a national or statewide race, for City-County Council, it makes Ed one of the best-heeled candidates from any party. So, he has options before him: TV ads? Radio? Social networking? A little of everything?
Best wishes to Ed and his campaign team! What they do next could lead to something historic, both short term and long!