Tuesday evening was one of the most constructive nights for the Libertarian Party of Miami-Dade County since its establishment last October. Meeting in a large Coconut Grove restaurant, more than 25 libertarians, or libertarian-leaning individuals, gathered for the monthly meeting in order to talk semantics and politics, and listen to a guest speaker that many would qualify as the most charismatic Libertarian out there.
The meeting began at 7:30 at Monty's, a seafood restaurant that has been taken over by libertarians once a month for the past four months. The group listened to Roger Stone, a famous political guru and campaign worker who has offered his services in the past to such famous figures as Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Al Sharpton, and, most recently, Gary Johnson.
In fact, Stone, a long-time GOP insider and former chairman of the Young Republican National Committee, broke off his links with the Grand Old Party last year in order to volunteer for the Gary Johnson Libertarian presidential campaign. "I didn't leave the party," announces Stone. "The party left me!"
His 50-minute long speech was made about recent speculations concerning Roger Stone's possible run for the governorship of Florida. "I am seriously considering a run," he said. And while he claimed that he will not give an answer until late this year, he has laid out part of his platform. The latter includes a real fight against Tallahassee establishment corruption, legalization of medical marijuana in the state, ending the Native American monopoly on gambling, and the repeal of a constitutional amendment in Florida prohibiting gay marriage.
In attendance was also Don Sheldon, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Broward County. Together with Roger Stone, Sheldon pledged to contributing significantly to the Libertarian Party of Florida financially, while the Miami-Dade County affiliate has now begun to accept contributions.
Many Florida party officials were present to listen to Roger Stone, such as John Wayne Smith, who is also hesitating on a run for governor.
The Libertarian camp was, however, divided in half on Tuesday night. On the one side, the mainstream activists chattered about party business and strategy, while more radical members, such as vice-chairman Eric Faden, debated the Austrian School of economics, the concept of anarcho-capitalism, and Ron Paul.
The other main point of the night was the official announcement of the first few candidates to run on behalf of the Libertarian Party in Miami-Dade. The central figure among them was Joseph Natoli, who will probably seek the District 3 Seat at the County Board of Commissioners, the highest legislative body in Miami-Dade.
Natoli was first approached by the LPMDC back in January to run for office in his hometown of Golden Beach. But the party saw in the former Wall Street investor a greater asset than a mere local councilman. He soon got on board with the Libertarians and has been contemplating the run since then. The elections for county-wide offices, including county mayor, will be held in the summer of 2014.
Dianne Thorne, chairwoman of the party, also announced her decision to run for office in Miami Beach. A few council seats, as well as the mayor's office, will be up for grabs this November and Thorne will be targeting the mayorship. She will be the first Libertarian to do so.
A few names were also thrown in the arena to run for local positions, such as the Coconut Grove Village Council, or the Bay Harbor Islands City Council.
This meeting was the first truly successful one for the local affiliate of the Libertarian Party, which has become the third largest party in the county (as well as the country). With enough political donations available to open a bank account, with enough news coverage to ensure the message spreads out throughout South Florida, the LPMDC's new leadership has confirmed that it will present a new challenge to the Establishment politicians currently running what many consider a corrupted cabal consisting of career politicians, profiteering attorneys and businessmen, and unstoppable regulators.
The next few weeks will be decisive for the future of the libertarian movement in South Florida.