Monday, November 24, 2014


Jeff Petermann has suspended his Libertarian bid for the U.S. House and stepped down as chairman of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party, citing disillusionment with the party. (Photo supplied)

U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski, Republican.

Joe Bock, Democratic hopeful for 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives seat. (James Buck/The Elkhart Truth)
Petermann suspends Libertarian bid for U.S. House, leaving GOPer Walorski and Democrat Bock
Posted on July 31, 2014 at 6:54 p.m.

Jeff Petermann has suspended his third-party bid for the U.S. House and he’s dropped out of the Libertarian Party.

"I have completely pulled away from the Libertarian Party as of yesterday,“ he said Thursday, July 31.

That turns the race for the 2nd District U.S. House spot into a two-way contest, between Republican incumbent Jackie Walorski, seeking her second term, and Democrat Joe Bock. Libertarians ran for the post in 2010 and 2012, garnering less than 5 percent of the vote each time, though some say the 2010 candidate, Mark Vogel, helped sway the vote for the Democratic contender and eventual victor that year, Joe Donnelly.

Dan Drexler, chairman of the Indiana Libertarian Party, expressed disappointment over Petermann’s move. The Walorski and Bock campaigns, he added, are probably relieved.

”I certainly enjoyed the idea of having a candidate in an important race like this,“ Drexler said.

Petermann’s name will still appear on the Nov. 4 ballot because the deadline for candidates to formally remove their names, July 15, has passed. But the Elkhart man, who initially announced his bid last March, is no longer campaigning, nor pursuing election to the U.S. House.

Petermann cited lack of financial and volunteer support, even from people who had previously promised backing for his bid. ”People just kind of dropped the ball,“ he said.

He also expressed a heavy dose of disillusionment with the Libertarian Party, which factored in his move. He dubs himself a ”constitutional conservative“ and said some of his views ran afoul with others in the party, which, broadly, touts a socially moderate and fiscally conservative agenda.

More specifically, Petermann cited his opposition to abortion and his Christianity and creationist beliefs, contrary to the views of some Libertarian Party elements.

Libertarians, some anyway, back ”liberty and freedom“ as long as the views under debate coincide with theirs, Petermann said. But when contrary views emerge, some Libertarian elements ”really don’t want you talking a lot.“

’FINISH WHAT YOU BEGGED FOR’

Petermann, who runs a marketing firm, posted public views critical of Libertarians on his Facebook page, as well as a picture of his Libertarian Party membership card cut in half. He had been with the party for about a year, after leaving the Republican Party.

"The Libertarian Party is just another political party with the same issues that you see in the GOP and DNC,” he wrote, referring to the Republican and Democratic parties.

The varied posts generated heated back and forth, with support from some, criticism from others.

"It is disappointing to see this coming from the person who asked for and was chosen at the Indiana (Libertarian Party) Convention to run for our 2nd District congressional seat,“ wrote one poster. ”Even still, one jilted person does not make or break us, what-so-ever.“

"Hard for me to be impressed,” wrote someone else. “Finish what you begged for or shut it.”

TOO LATE FOR ANOTHER LIBERTARIAN

Petermann also stepped down as chairman of the Elkhart County Libertarian Party. Rick Bowen, currently the vice chairman of the party here and a former chairman, will be elevated to acting chair, Drexler said.

With the July 15 deadline past, it’s too late to tab another Libertarian hopeful for the 2nd District race. Vogel, the 2010 candidate, vied last April for the candidacy this go-round at the Indiana Libertarian Party convention, but lost out to Petermann, according to Drexler.

"I am disappointed. (Petermann) was doing some great stuff,” said Drexler, citing a series of political symposiums Petermann had hosted.

Prior Libertarian hopefuls, Joe Ruiz in 2012 and Vogel in 2010, were distant contenders in their respective 2nd District campaigns. Still, that doesn’t mean hopefuls from the party can’t have an impact. Some observers say Vogel siphoned votes from Walorski in 2010, her first shot at the post, tipping the race for Donnelly, now a U.S. Senator.

Follow reporter Tim Vandenack on Twitter at @timvandenack or visit him on Facebook.