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NWFL Libertarian Chairman Optimistic About '16 Race

Libertarian Party of Florida

What promises to be a nasty presidential campaign between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump could enable the nation’s third-largest political party to make some gains in 2016.

For Pete Blome of Niceville, who chairs the Libertarian Party chapter in northwest Florida, his involvement began after he retired from the Air Force.

“I was adjusting to civilian life, and I noticed that as I’m watching politics and the events of the country more closely, I find myself getting quite upset just looking at the TV,” said Blome, who decided to join the Libertarians in 2006.

And just what on television caused him to go this way politically? The Sept. 11, 2001 attacks were a factor, but more so was the way the U-S government reacted to them.

“The Bush administration, followed by the Obama administration just initiated a whole series of laws,” said Blome. “Some of them had existed before; many basic freedoms were getting obviously eroded, and I decided to do something about it.”

Aside from more freedom for Americans -- the Libertarian mantra -- Blome says the party’s basic premise is that you don’t initiate force to achieve social or political goals. The Patriot Act, the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA), restrictions on private financing – those and other laws would not be missed by Blome if they went away tomorrow – along with certain federal policies.

“There have been assassinations of American citizens overseas that trouble me a great deal,” Blome says. “And you never hear of any trial process, you never hear of any kind of review by a judge, and you never hear of any evidence. That is a very bad trend that needs to be stopped.”

Blome also sees a chance to make inroads in this year’s presidential campaign, but not because of the rancor and vitriol that’s taken place in both major parties’ primary campaigns. It actually falls, he says, on the presidential candidates themselves.

“Two people [Clinton and Trump] that the public is dissatisfied with, that they’re starting to think ‘Maybe we shouldn’t support this system anymore, or maybe we shouldn’t support the Republicans and Democrats,’” said Blome. “And then you start running into the problem that you have no choice, that they’ve built-in so many laws, so many restrictions. They have such advantages with money, influence and organization. It’s going to be very tough to break them down.”

Libertarians running for state and local office in Florida are bumping up against the state’s “365-Day Rule.” Signed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2014, it requires potential candidates of any political party to swear or affirm that they have not been a member of another party for 365 days, prior to the beginning of qualifying for the office they seek.

But Northwest Florida Chairman Pete Blome says the Libertarian Party – begun in 1971 -- is not going anywhere anytime soon.

“It’s funny how the government’s becoming secret, while individual lives are becoming public,” Blome says. “And that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”