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Chase Oliver wins Libertarian Party presidential nomination

Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver watches as the results of the sixth round of voting to elect the Libertarian Party's 2024 presidential nominee are announced during the Libertarian National Convention at the Washington Hilton on Sunday, May 26.
Francis Chung/POLITICO/AP via CNN Newsource
Libertarian presidential candidate Chase Oliver watches as the results of the sixth round of voting to elect the Libertarian Party's 2024 presidential nominee are announced during the Libertarian National Convention at the Washington Hilton on Sunday, May 26.

By Aaron Pellish, CNN

(CNN) — Chase Oliver won the Libertarian Party presidential nomination on Sunday after seven rounds of voting at the party’s convention in Washington, DC.

The 38-year-old, who has previously ran for Congress multiple times in Georgia, focused his pitch on making Libertarian values palatable to a broader audience.

In an interview with CNN following his nomination, Oliver said he believes earning 2% of the vote nationally in November’s general election is a reasonable goal.

“I got 2.1% of the vote when I ran for the Senate in Georgia. I think that’s a definite doable thing, and certainly we can improve upon that with a hard-run campaign that wakes people up,” he said.

When asked how he plans to compete with President Joe Biden, presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and Independent candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., to expand his share of the vote, Oliver said he plans to speak to “as many people as possible,” while projecting confidence he can disrupt the balance of power between Democrats and Republicans.

“I’m ready to continue to be a fly in the ointment of the two-party system,” he said.

Oliver was sharply critical of Trump’s appearance at the Libertarian convention. At a news conference following the former president’s remarks, which were heavily and consistently booed by Libertarian audience members, Oliver called it a “mistake” to have Trump speak. “You are not a libertarian, Donald Trump,” he said. “You’re a war criminal and you deserve to be shamed by everyone in this hall.”

Oliver has called for simplifying the pathway to citizenship for immigrants and expanding work visas and has strongly opposed US involvement in foreign wars. He has said he wants to encourage states to “decriminalize” abortion procedures while also promoting alternatives to abortion.

Oliver’s victory at Sunday’s convention marks a defeat for the Mises Caucus, a group of right-leaning Libertarians who have grown in stature within the party in recent years. Libertarian Party Chair Angela McArdle, who was reelected to her position at the convention this weekend, is a member of the caucus.

“While this last ballot’s been going on, I’ve heard from so many people concerned that I’m going to leave them out of this campaign,” Oliver said Sunday evening in his acceptance speech. “I urge you to understand that I want to unify this party around the common principles that we all respect.”

Kennedy, after being put up as a candidate for the nomination early Sunday, was eliminated from contention during the first round of voting.

Oliver secured the nomination after striking a deal with Mike ter Maat, one of the last three candidates in the nominating process. Ter Maat endorsed Oliver on the floor of the convention following the fifth round of voting, saying he accepted Oliver’s offer to be his vice presidential candidate after expressing concerns about the Mises Caucus’ strategy. The Mises Caucus had officially endorsed Michael Rectenwald, who led the early rounds of voting.

But in the sixth round, neither Oliver nor Rectenwald earned the necessary 50% majority to secure the nomination, although they were the only two candidates remaining on the ballot. The final round of voting pitted Oliver against “none of the above.” McArdle explained ahead of the final round that if “none of the above” were to win, the party would not nominate a candidate for president this year.

Oliver won with 497 votes, earning 60% of the vote to 36% for “none of the above.”

Tom Markey, a Rhode Island delegate, said he likes Oliver because he’s more likely to earn support from a wide range of voters than Rectenwald.

“Some people are just direct libertarians, and they’re stuck on one thing,” Markey said. “(Oliver) may come across to Democrats and Republicans as being, ‘All right, that makes sense.’”

“He would cross the lines a bit better,” Markey added.

Oliver touted his visits to all 50 states prior to this weekend’s nominating convention as evidence of his commitment to earning as many votes as possible. And speaking to CNN after securing the nomination, he also pointed to benchmarks other than victory in November for a successful campaign, including increasing the number of registered Libertarians and expanding ballot access for the party.

“If we can’t win the White House, there are many other metrics of victory,” he said.

Rectenwald told CNN while voting was still ongoing at the convention that Oliver winning the nomination would signify an embrace of “wokeness,” which he called an “authoritarian, totalitarian ideology.”

“It kind of turns (the party) into a referendum, sort of, for a particular kind of status ideology, one that is interested in protecting special identity category… people,” Rectenwald said. “That is, effectively woke. Woke ideology.”

Oliver, who is gay, has said he joined the Libertarian Party after encountering the party at the Atlanta Pride Festival in 2010. In 2020, he ran as a Libertarian in the special election in Georgia’s 5th Congressional District to replace the late Rep. John Lewis. In 2022, he ran for Senate against Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

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