Aug 18, 2010 11:24 PM by Chris Welty
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Libertarians are making history next
week in Louisiana, holding their first primary election in the
state after two candidates aligned with the party signed up for the
Anthony "Tony G" Gentile, an oil refinery supervisor from the
New Orleans suburb of Mandeville, will face off in the Aug. 28
primary against Randall Todd Hayes, a stock trader from the small
central Louisiana town of Atlanta.
They are vying for the seat of Republican U.S. Sen. David
Vitter, the incumbent who is seeking re-election. The primary
winner advances to the Nov. 2 general election against the
Republican, Democratic and independent party candidates.
Now the question is: How many people are going to show up to
vote in the party's primary?
The two candidates have done little fundraising and no radio or
TV advertising to drum up interest in their primary, and their
immediate base of support is tiny in the state.
Fewer than 3,500 of Louisiana's 2.9 million voters are
However, another 665,000 voters who are independents or who
aren't registered with a state-recognized party can cast ballots in
the Libertarian primary if they choose, giving the party a
potential pool of voters that includes 23 percent of those
Secretary of State Jay Dardenne isn't offering any turnout
predictions. The chairman of the Libertarian Party of Louisiana, T.
Lee Horne, said the party is hoping to boost participation by
attracting independents and other voters who aren't Republicans and
"The independents and the non-recognized parties are allowed to
participate, and we're doing everything we can to put out the word
that if they want to vote in the Libertarian primary, we'd love to
have them," Horne said.
The Libertarian primary is the state's first third-party primary
in a century, said Jacques Berry, a spokesman for Dardenne's
And the Libertarian primary is expected to be the state's last
third-party primary as well, after lawmakers agreed to return to an
open primary system - where all candidates regardless of party run
against each other - for the 2012 congressional races. State and
local elections already are run on an open primary system.
Horne said he was surprised when two Libertarian candidates
signed up for the Senate race last month. The party had endorsed
Gentile before learning that Hayes intended to compete for the seat
"We have two very, very good candidates running. The party
central committee likes both candidates quite well, and we
encourage people to go to their respective websites and do their
research and determine which of those two the voters would like the
best," Horne said.
Both Gentile and Hayes are running on platforms advocating a
smaller, less powerful federal government. They favor an end to the
U.S. involvement in the current wars and a return of troops from
foreign conflict. They've both run unsuccessfully for office
before, Gentile for governor in 2007 and a congressional seat in
2008 and Hayes for a congressional seat in 2008.
Hayes is supporting the legalization of drugs, with a regulated
drug market and drug abuse treated in a similar fashion as alcohol
Because the state already had Democratic and Republican party
primaries in the Senate race, the extra costs for adding a
Libertarian primary are minimal, just the costs for a longer ballot
and extra training for poll commissioners, Berry said.