Record-breaking showing gives Libertarians political party status in Iowa

Unofficial results from Tuesday’s election show Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson received 58,796 votes in Iowa, about 3.8 percent of ballots cast.

Before this year, the most successful Libertarian ticket in Iowa gained 1 percent of the vote, way back in 1980. Although Johnson wasn’t able to maintain his much higher polling numbers from the late summer, he more than quadrupled his 2012 raw vote total and share of the vote here.

The result gives the Libertarian Party full “political party status” in Iowa. What does that mean in practical terms?

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Iowa judge sentences medical marijuana user to probation

In a case being watched by medical marijuana advocates across the country, cancer patient Benton Mackenzie received three years of probation rather than a prison term for his conviction in July on drug charges. Mackenzie had grown marijuana plants on his parents’ property in order to extract cannabis oil, and his wife and son also faced drug charges. At the trial, District Court Judge Henry Latham did not allow Mackenzie’s attorney to tell the jury that the defendant was trying to treat his angiosarcoma. Yesterday, the same judge sentenced both Mackenzie and his wife Loretta Mackenzie to probation, in line with the prosecutor’s recommendation in the case. After the jump I’ve posted excerpts from Brian Wellner’s report for the Quad-City Times and Grant Rodgers’ report for the Des Moines Register. Libertarian candidate for governor Lee Hieb, a medical doctor, attended yesterday’s hearing and afterward called for a change in public policy to give people “the right to choose our own cancer care.” Mackenzie expressed hope that he will be the “last person” to be prosecuted under similar circumstances.

The Mackenzie family wants to move to Oregon, where a doctor has approved Benton Mackenzie for participation in that state’s medical marijuana program. Probation officers in Iowa would have to sign off on the move before the family could leave the state. Mackenzie also plans to appeal “in an effort to get the Iowa Supreme Court to reconsider its decision in a 2005 case that bars Iowans from using claims of medical necessity as a defense to growing marijuana.”

I still think it was a waste of taxpayer money to prosecute a critically ill person for growing marijuana intended for personal use. Iowa lawmakers should make cannabis more accessible to people who can demonstrate a medical need for it.

LATE UPDATE: Judge Latham sentenced Benton Mackenzie’s close friend Stephen Bloomer to five years in prison for helping the cancer patient buy materials for growing marijuana. Bloomer is free on bond pending consideration of his appeal. Scroll to the end of this post for more details on that case. What a travesty.

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Third-party and independent candidates in Iowa's 2014 elections

The filing period for general election candidates in Iowa closed last Friday, so it’s a good time to review where candidates not representing either the Democratic or Republican Party are running for office. The full candidate list is on the Iowa Secretary of State’s website (pdf(. After the jump I discuss all the federal, statewide, and state legislative races including at least one independent or minor-party candidate. Where possible, I’ve linked to campaign websites, so you can learn more about the candidates and their priorities.

Rarely has any Iowa election been affected by an independent or third-party candidate on the ballot. Arguably, the most recent case may have been the 2010 election in Iowa’s first Congressional district. Final results showed that Democratic incumbent Bruce Braley defeated Republican challenger Ben Lange by 4,209 votes, while conservative candidates Rob Petsche and Jason Faulkner drew 4,087 votes and 2,092 votes, respectively.

Any comments about Iowa’s 2014 elections are welcome in this thread.

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IA-Gov: Jonathan Narcisse running as "Iowa Party" candidate

August tends to be a slow news month, which is a good thing, because Bleeding Heartland has a lot of news to catch up on from July. For one thing, Jonathan Narcisse has qualified for the general election ballot as a candidate for governor representing the Iowa Party. (There are no other Iowa Party candidates running this year.) You can find issue positions and news clips on the Narcisse campaign’s website. He campaigned in ten counties last week, and yesterday highlighted his education proposals during his speech on the Des Moines Register’s “soapbox”  at the Iowa State Fair.

The former Des Moines school board member ran for governor as the Iowa Party candidate in 2010, winning nearly 2 percent of the statewide vote. Late last year he described that independent candidacy as “naive” and a “mistake.” However, the Iowa Secretary of State’s office determined that he did not submit enough signatures to qualify for the Democratic primary ballot. Narcisse challenged his exclusion on what he called a “technicality” (failing to list the office he was seeking on some of the petition pages). However, a Polk County District Court and later the Iowa Supreme Court rejected his lawsuit.

Presumably, Narcisse will draw more votes from Iowans who might lean toward Democratic nominee Jack Hatch. However, his support for opting out of the “Common Core” curriculum may attract some social conservatives who are dissatisfied with Republican Governor Terry Branstad.

At least one other candidate for governor is likely to qualify for the general election ballot in Iowa: Dr. Lee Hieb, the Libertarian Party’s nominee. She has until close of business on August 15 to submit enough valid signatures to the Iowa Secretary of State’s office. That hasn’t been a problem for Libertarian candidates in recent election years.

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