Forward, Libertarian, Green Parties Make Small Gains In 2023 Elections

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Forwardists, Libertarians, and Greens can all point to limited progress for their parties in the 2023 elections. Union ForwardRead More

NOTE: Finding local election results is complicated. This list may be incomplete, but you can help expand it by leaving a comment with any candidates missed.

On Election Day 2023, the Libertarian, Forward, and Green parties made small gains with a handful of local election victories each.

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Voting in Des Moines, Iowa, November 3, 2020 [Source—Phil Roeder, License—CC BY 2.0]

None of the three parties significantly expanded their electoral ranks on November 7, but all three had a handful of victories from which they could claim progress. At least two Forwardists, thirteen Greens, and twenty-seven Libertarians won local elections.

For the Forward Party, this was its first real foray into local elections since its founding in fall 2021. The Libertarian and Green parties have much more experience with the process, although they have faced tightening ballot access restrictions in recent years.

The limited success of each of these parties proves their ability to organize and win local elections when they put their minds to it. In 2024, they should double down on building credible power in local politics before eyeing future state or national elections.

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Libertarians at a pro-choice rally, Washington, D.C., November 12, 1989 [Source—Carolmooredc, License—CC BY-SA 3.0]

Libertarian Party

The Libertarian Party saw at least twenty-seven local candidates elected in the 2023 elections.

In Wichita, Kansas, the most populous city in the state, Libertarian mayoral candidate Lily Wu ousted incumbent Democratic Mayor Brandon Whipple with an estimated 58 percent of the vote.

Wu raised more than $400,000 in her mayoral campaign with support from major Republican donors including the conservative political action group Americans for Prosperity and the political action committee of former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Throughout her campaign, however, she avoided any and all contact with the Libertarian Party of Kansas. Libertarian Party of Kansas Chair Tim Giblin released a statement the day after the election acknowledging that Wu is not a “recognized candidate” of the party and that she had been a registered Republican until 2022.

Giblin wrote that Libertarians wanted to discuss her support for “expanding for the police state” and the donations she received from big Republican donors.

In Pennsylvania, a total of twenty Libertarians won local elections as City Council members, Constables, and Township Auditors. Butler County, Centre County, and Adams County each saw three Libertarians elected.

Four Libertarian were elected in Ohio. Plymouth Mayor Cassaundra Fryman was re-elected to a second term, Elyria City Councilman Andrew Lipian won re-election, Steven Salander was elected to Oregon’s City Council, and Drew Werley was elected to Vermilion’s City Council.

Furthermore, Keith Redhead was elected Town Supervisor of Ava, New York and Clayton Soultz was elected to Jonesboro, Indiana’s City Council.

Besides the twenty-seven Libertarians who won, there were more than a dozen who fell short, including four who had also earned the endorsement of the Forward Party. In Pennsylvania, Brittany Kosin ran for Town Supervisor of Warwick, Timothy McMaster sought to become Conewago’s Township Supervisor, and Shannon Wheeler ran for Magisterial District Judge in Dauphin County. Finally, Rob Yates ran for Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina as a Libertarian with the Forward Party’s endorsement.

Chase Oliver, a Libertarian 2024 presidential candidate and the party’s 2022 U.S. Senate nominee against Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, had a positive feeling about the results the day after the election.

The Libertarian Party had “definite victories” and Ohio’s approval of two ballot measures enshrining the right to an abortion in the state’s Constitution and legalizing recreational cannabis use were, in his view, victories for libertarianism as a whole:

“The big national story out of Ohio is Issues 1 and 2, which secured abortion rights [and] legalized cannabis. These results are indicative that voters want their own choices to be made.” — Chase Oliver

Oliver said that the Libertarian Party can continue to claim the third-highest number of elected candidates, behind only the Democratic and Republican parties.

In total, the Libertarian Party outpaced Forwardists and Greens in the total number of local election victories.

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Forward Party co-chair Andrew Yang at the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019 [Source—Gage Skidmore, License—CC BY-SA 2.0]

Forward Party

Two years after its founding, the Forward Party saw two of its local candidates elected in its first significant foray into electoral politics. In addition to the two registered Forwardists elected, five Forward affiliates (candidates from different parties who publicly affiliated with the Forward Party) were elected.

In Stonington, Connecticut, First Selectman Danielle Chesebrough, who has served two terms as an independent, joined the Forward Party in her bid for a third term. She was elected with an estimated 41 percent of the vote, defeating a Democrat, a Republican, and an independent at the polls.

June Strunk, who served two terms on Stonington’s Board of Selectmen as a Democrat, also decided to run as a Forwardist in her bid for a third term. Strunk did not win re-election. Four Forwardist candidates for Constable in Stonington fell short, as well.

Newtown, Connecticut Police Commissioner Neil Chaudhary, a former Republican, decided to run for re-election as a Forwardist this year, but was not re-elected with his new party affiliation. In Pennsylvania, however, Forwardist Chris Woodward won an election for Lower Heidelberg Township Auditor.

In total, eight candidates ran as registered Forwardists and two of them won: Chesebrough and Woodward. Additionally, a number of independents, Libertarians, Democrats, and Republicans publicly affiliated with the Forward Party were on the ballot.

Fort Collins, Colorado’s incumbent Democratic Mayor Jeni Arndt publicly affiliated with the Forward Party earlier this year and went on to win re-election on November 7. Six-term Allegheny County, Pennsylvania District Attorney Stephen Zappala, a Republican, also publicly affiliated with the Forward Party several months ago and won re-election on Tuesday. In Philadelphia, incumbent Republican City Commissioner Seth Bluestein won a second term after publicly affiliating with the Forward Party in August.

Kyle Herman, Executive Director of Rank the Vote Ohio, was elected to Stow, Ohio’s City Council with the Forward Party’s endorsement. James Kole, an independent Laurel, Maryland City Council Member endorsed by the Forward Party, was successful in his bid for re-election.

In Virginia, Forwardists endorsed two candidates for State Senate—independent Elizabeth Nelson and Republican Sophia Moshasha—although both fell short of victory.

Forwardists had reason to celebrate on Election Day for another reason, as well. The party’s flagship proposal, ranked-choice voting, was on ballot referendums in three Michigan cities—East Lansing, Kalamazoo, and Royal Oak—and it was approved by all three.

Andrew Yang, founder and co-chair of the Forward Party, expressed excitement at the Forward Party’s results and anticipation for 2024:

“As of now, we have six new Forward elected officials across four states, two of whom actually petitioned onto the ballot as a Forwardist.

Imagine what we can see in 2024 when the number of races will be many times higher.”

The election results were “a great sign” for the party, in Yang’s estimation.

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Greens protest President Trump’s immigration policies, Baltimore, Maryland, January 28, 2017 [Source—Bruce Emmerling, License—CC0 1.0]

Green Party

The Green Party saw at least thirteen of its candidates elected to local offices on November 7.

Nearly twenty Green candidates were on the ballot across Connecticut in 2023, and seven of them won their elections. Six of those victories came in the town of Windham, Connecticut: Daniel Phipps and Kristen Epp were elected to the Board of Assessment Appeals, Dianisi Torres was elected to the Board of Education, Dagmar Noll was elected as a Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate, and Michael Westerfield and Douglas Lary were elected to the Taxing District Board.

In Redding, Connecticut, incumbent Constable Leif Smith’s name was on the ballot as a Green candidate for two separate elections. He ran for re-election as a Constable, which he lost, and for the Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate, which he won.

Greens in Maine won a pair of local elections. Fred McCann was elected to Portland, Maine’s Water District Board of Trustees and Megan Parks was elected to Lewiston, Maine’s School Committee. In Holyoke, Massachusetts, voters elected Green candidate Gloria Caballero-Roca to the School Committee.

Pennsylvania Greens won a pair of local elections, as well. Michael Badges-Canning, a former teacher and vocal opponent of fracking, was elected Mayor of Cherry Valley and Tara Yaney was elected to the Edgewood Borough Council. On the other side of the country, Timothy Barnes was elected to Lafayette, Colorado’s City Council.

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Libertarians, Forwardists, and Greens can all point to progress made in the 2023 elections, even if their progress amounted to small steps.

In addition to these three parties, the Constitution Party had five local candidates on the ballot across three states, although none emerged victorious. A member of the American Solidarity Party’s national committee, Shane Hoffman, was also on the ballot in a non-partisan election for Village Council in Plain City, Ohio, though he was not elected.

Third parties will have an opportunity in the 2024 elections to grow their ranks of local elected officials. 2024 is shaping up to be a favorable year for third parties and independents, with a record high number of voters identifying as independent of the two-party system.

The Libertarian, Green, American Solidarity, and Constitution parties will nominate presidential candidates, as they have in years past, in the hopes of generating national attention for their movements. The Forward Party does not plan to nominate a presidential candidate of its own, although it has not ruled out an endorsement.

In past election years which favored third parties or independents, however, such as 1992, third party activists’ energy was poured into a presidential campaign at the expense of winning local elections from which they can develop a broader movement in subsequent elections.

Libertarians, Forwardists, and Greens made small gains this year which prove their ability to organize at the local level and win when they put their minds to it. These parties and other third parties should double down on building a foundation of local electoral power in 2024 which can evolve into the emergence of a vibrant multi-party system at the state and national levels in 2026, 2028, and beyond.

The two-party system will face its most substantial challenge in decades next year. Will Libertarians, Forwardists, Greens, and other third parties rise to the occasion?

CORRECTION on November 9: Nineteen Libertarian local victories in Pennsylvania missing from the original publication were added.

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Sources

2023 – 2024 Constitution Party Candidates — Constitution Party

Allegheny County DA Zappala affiliates with centrist Forward Party — 90.5 WESA

Chesebrough Wins Third Term in Stonington as Forward Party Candidate — CT Examiner

Commissioner Seth Bluestein Becomes Forward Party Affiliate, Joining Many Other Elected Officials Across the Country — Forward Party

Fort Collins Mayor Jeni Arndt Affiliates with Forward Party — Forward Party

From The Chair Re: Election of Lily Wu as Mayor of Wichita, Kansas — Libertarian Party of Kansas

Julia Pemberton wins sixth term as Redding first selectwoman — The News-Times

Lily Wu to become 1st Asian-American mayor of Wichita, defeats current mayor — KMUW

Lorain County General Election November 7, 2023 Summary Report — Ohio Secretary of State

Victories — GPUS Elections Database