Libertarian Party of Wisconsin

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Libertarian Party of Wisconsin
General Information
Chartered: 1973
Region: 6
Chair: Matthew Bughman
Vice-Chair: Brian Defferding
Secretary: Michael Chianese
Treasurer: David Grover
Address: PO Box 20815
Greenfield, WI 53220
Website: Website
Social Media
Facebook: Facebook
Twitter: Twitter

The Libertarian Party of Wisconsin is the Wisconsin affiliate of the Libertarian Party.

Additional Officers, Committee Members, and Staff


After the Libertarian Party was formed in 1971, Libertarians in Wisconsin met and formed their state affiliate party in 1973. Since that time, the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin has continued to grow and develop into the premier "third" party in Wisconsin.

Roger MacBride, 1976 LP Presidential candidate, visited Wisconsin in the summer of 1976. He got an invitation to address a large gathering of motorcycle enthusiasts who were coming together to protest the helmet laws. It was the largest group that MacBride addressed during his campaign -- around 30,000 people on Madison's Capital Square. Thousands and thousands of motorcyclists streamed up East Washington Avenue to the Capitol and then around the square, none of them wearing helmets, which was illegal at the time. In fall, 1976, Wisconsin begin its signature collection to put Roger MacBride on the ballot as an independent. An independent presidential candidate needed 1,000 signatures to get on the ballot. Most of these signatures were collected on the library mall in Madison.

In 1974, Libertarain Dan Endsley was elected to a non-partisan open post on the Monroe City Council. Endsley, the first Libertarian officeholder in Wisconsin, said that "the Democrats and Republicans didn't know what a Libertarian was. Each of the Parties invited me to their meetings." Endsley served for two terms on the Council, ending his final term in 1978, at which point he moved to Ohio. In 1978, Gary Gates was elected to a non-partisan post on the Madison City Council. He served on the City Council until 1984.

The 1979 Libertarian Party nominating Convention (Los Angeles, CA) saw a tight race between Bill Hunscher and Ed Clark for the LP Presidential nomination. Illinois and Wisconsin were grouped together for the purposes of electing a representative to the Libertarian National Committee. Wisconsin Chair Leslie Graves Key ran against Illinoisan David Padden. Despite that Illinois had a larger delegation, Leslie Graves Key won because the Illinois delegates an internal scuffle. Leslie Graves Key served as a regional representative on the Libertarian National Committee until 1983, when a number of LNC members decided to pursue other interests.

The Wisconsin party decided to go through the rather onerous process of petitioning to be its own political party so that candidates could run as Libertarians instead of as Independents. In 1979, the LP embarked on the petition drive that required getting signatures of 10% of those who had voted in the last gubernatorial campaign in 10 different counties. So the Wisconsin activists picked the ten least populous counties and sent out teams of petitioners, because by and large there were no LP members in those sparsely populated counties.

In 1980, despite its relative youth, the party ran eight candidates (one for U.S. Senate, two for U.S. House, and five for State Representative) for public office. In 1982, the LPW ran 23 candidates for public office (including candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, State Treasurer, U.S. Senate, six U.S. House seats, one State Senate seat, seven State Representative seats, Milwaukee County Sheriff, Milwaukee County Treasurer, and Iowa County Coroner). All of these candidates had achieved something the Wisconsin LP had never achieved before: Having the label Libertarian next to their names.

In 1980, the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin opened an office near the state Capitol, at 115 S. Pinckney St. Leslie Graves Key was the Chair and Executive Director, also staffing the office. With the petition requirements, an office was necessary as a central planning/meeting venue. The first Lifetime member of the Party is believed to be Bernard Losching of Janesville.

In 1982, the Wisconsin LP ran an aggressive set of petition drives to get candidates on the ballot for all the statewide offices, which was six at that time. One of them needed to get at least 2% of the vote in order for the party to retain ballot status.

Dr. Timothy Correll became the first partisan Libertarian elected in Wisconsin when he was elected Iowa County Coroner in 1982.

In 1983, or possibly 1985, the Libertarian Party persuaded the legislature to ease the new party petition. The old law required one-sixth of the last gubernatorial vote in any 10 Wisconsin counties. The new law was 10,000 signatures overall.

In 1984, the LPW had organized affiliates in Rock County and Grant-Crawford County, as well as Dane and Milwaukee Counties.

Tom Westgaard quit the Libertarian Party on April 30, 1988. Westgaard had served as Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer of the Party and was involved for more than a decade. He was the 1982 candidate for State Secretary and he was elected to the Greenfield City Council in 1984. Westgaard was over-active on things connected to libertarian philosophy as well as the party. He had a book business called Pine Tree Council in the '80s. He was a stalwart, tireless, dedicated activist and his loss was clearly felt in the Party.

Nevertheless, LP activists continued on, and Andre Marrou spoke to the Milwaukee Public Affairs Council in June of 1988. In January, 1990, State Chair Mary Roffers hired a high school intern, Ken Zollner. He worked as media and field co-ordinator and was released from school for the job every afternoon. Despite ballot access hurdles formulated by the State, the Party gained party status in 1990 with David Ameringer's campaign for State Treasurer, in which he gained 19,000 votes. The ballot status gained by the party in 1990 still carries on to this day, but the vote totals have far surpassed Ameringer's 19,000 vote total.

Until 1990 or thereabouts, the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin was called the LPW (not the LPWI) and its slogan was "Privatizing Government in Wisconsin." In 1991, the party had a "Books for Lithuania" project.

Wisconsin has a deep, rich heritage of Libertarian politics. The history of the LPWI is one of achievement and maintenance of ballot status with progressing activity and growth.

Wisconsin's Libertarian Party has a heritage of seeing well over forty of its past or present members elected or appointed to public office in Wisconsin.

And that's just the beginning of our successes.

In 1998 and 2000, Libertarian Tim Peterson ran for State Treasurer and U.S. Senate, gaining 28,000 votes and 23,000 votes respectively. Also in 2000, then-State Representative Rick Skindrud (R-Mount Horeb) joined the Libertarian Party of Dane County.

And in 2002, Libertarian candidate for Governor Ed Thompson earned an impressive 183,000 votes, or almost 11% of the vote statewide. Thompson had a 39% approval rating in 2002, better than McCallum (35%) and better than Doyle as he began his first term (37%). Ed Thompson's disapproval rating (39%) was also lower than that of his primary opponents, McCallum (55%) and Doyle (45%).

Due to the second most successful Libertarian Party campaign for Governor in history, Libertarian Adam Dick was appointed to the Wisconsin State Elections Board. Soon after appointed, the Board vacated all spots and Libertarian Adam Dick was replaced with Libertarian Kirby Brant. [[Kirby Brant served on the State Elections Board until his resignation in late March of 2006 due to his support of the Defense of Marriage Amendment, which the state party opposed. Kirby Brant was replaced with Libertarian Jacob Burns. Currently Burns, of Oshkosh, serves as a Libertarian Party Representative on the State Elections Board until May 1, 2007 when the seat dissolves.

Major Successes

  • The Libertarian Party of Wisconsin successfully lobbied to retain the partisan Libertarian seat on the Wisconsin State Elections Board, defeating the Ellis-Cowles Senate Bill #11. The original language of the bill would have eliminated the seat that the Libertarian Party earned with Ed Thompson's 11% for Governor.
  • Libertarian Bob Bowman sought to give five acres of his own land to his daughter for her to build her house adjacent to his. But a Dane County zoning ordinance precluded town governments from having their own zoning ordinances. After submitting two rezoning petitions to the County Executive, Bowman was finally able to give his own land to his daughter, and rightfully so. Bowman didn't stop there: He has been a Board member in the town of Cross Plains (Dane County) since 1995;
  • Libertarian Ed Thompson was one of 42 tavern owners in Juneau County who had their businesses shut down by the Attorney General and the County Executive because he offered gambling to customers. Thompson didn't give up: He fought back. The County Executive lost re-election after Thompson campaigned from house to house with his story. Then Thompson ran for Mayor of Tomah (Juneau County) and was elected in a landslide. As Mayor, Thompson opened up the city government to the people, ending waste in the city by, among other things, reducing the number of committees from 24 to 9 and creating the "Committee of the Whole". He reduced city debt by about five million dollars (over 15%). He saved the city about $250,000 in yearly health care expenses by renegotiating city employee contracts, while increasing employee wages well beyond the expected. He established a senior and disabled program at minimal cost a year while also establishing a senior center at no taxpayer cost. And Ed Thompson forced the settlement of a 14-year Environmental Protection Agency Superfund lawsuit for under $1.5 million in settlement and clean-up costs-about a quarter of the expected expense;
  • Libertarians in Milwaukee and Green Bay worked (albeit unsuccessfully) to defeat public taxes for sports complexes;


A listing of past candidates is available at


[Defferding] - Winnebago County Supervisor, District 6 Joe Prohaska - Appleton City Council, District 14 Robert Reynolds - Edgerton City Council


See: Libertarian Party of Wisconsin Historical Election Results

Size and Influence

Year Minimum
Of Voters
Total Donors
2004 - Present
Active Members
1972 - 2003

LNC Donors
State Rank
Of Total LNC
(Of 51)
2018 20,225 0.76% 2,104 362 280 48.16 19
2017 2,076 358 275 47.45 19
2016 106,674 3.58% 2,147 372 365 63.16 21
2015 1,949 338 179 31.02 21
2014 70,951 2.93% 1,909 332 188 32.65 22
2013 1,865 325 204 35.52 23
2012 62,240 2.03% 1,825 319 228 39.83 21
2011 1,737 304 237 41.51 20
2010 10,444 0.48% 1,687 297 235 41.31 21
2009 1,660 293 245 43.22 21
2008 12,842 0.43% 1,570 278 273 48.40 21
2007 1,474 263 222 39.57 24
2006 59,203 2.71% 1,431 257 174 31.20 23
2005 1,342 242 241 43.45 23
2004 9,485 0.31% 331 60.03 22
2003 256 46.72 23
2002 185,455 10.45% 308 56.56 24
2001 354 65.47 23
2000 21,348 0.82% 458 85.23 23
1999 441 83.99 23
1998 28,561 1.62% 403 77.17 23
1997 299 57.50 24
1996 11,243 0.51% 331 63.98 22
1995 236 45.94 19
1994 31,118 1.99% 148 29.05 23
1993 147 29.08 21
1992 9,147 0.36% 174 34.77 21
1991 134 27.06 22
1990 19,077 1.38% 135 27.54 19
1989 100 20.59 22
1988 5,157 0.24% 78 16.17 21
1984 4,884 0.22%
1982 27,004 1.71%
1980 29,135 1.28%
1978 1,697 0.11%
1976 3,814 0.18%
1972 101 0.01%


Index of Libertarian Party of Wisconsin Minutes

Governing Documents


For historical platforms see Index of Wisconsin State Party Platforms


For historical bylaws see Index of Wisconsin State Party Bylaws


For historical Constitutions see Index of Wisconsin State Party Constitutions

Past Officers, Committee Members, and Staff

Al Arnold, District 7 (primary) (c 2009)
Adrian Augustine 2nd District (alternate)
John Baily 7th District (alternate)
Alan Basche, District 8 (alternate) (c 2009)
Steven Baumeister 4th District (alternate)
Don Bernau 1st District (alternate)
John Biebesheimer 7th District (alternate)
Chris Brewer 7th District (alternate)
Paula Brookmire Vice-Chair, At-Large
Jacob Burns 6th District (primary), At-Large
Amy Case Newsletter Editor
Toni Cattani, District 5 (alternate) (c 2009)
Eric Christenson Web Site
Bob Collison Chair, Past Chair, Vice-Chair, Voice Mail
Julie Cordry At-Large, 2nd District (primary)
Donald Carlson 4th District (primary, alternate)
Bernard Dalsey 1st District (primary)
James Dean 6th District (primary, alternate)
Keith Deschler 1st District (primary)
Ken van Doren District 3 (alternate)
Paul Ehlers, At-Large 1 (c 2009), 7th District (primary, alternate)
Ron Emery Chair, Past Chair, Judiciary Chair
Tom Ender Vice-Chair, At-Large, 2nd District (primary), Newsletter Editor, Gun Show Coordinator
Jeff Engelmann 6th District (alternate)
Steven Erbach 6th District (alternate)
William Frantz 1st District (alternate)
John Gatewood, Secretary (c 2009), At-Large
Terry Gray, At-Large 2 (c 2009)
MaryAnn Geisler Treasurer, 5th District (alternate)
J. Gravelle 5th District (alternate)
Tim Hanson Newsletter Editor
Dave Harmon Secretary, Platform Committee Chair
Donna Harmon Webmaster
Virginia Harmon 4th District (alternate)
Robert Haynes At-Large
Dave Hendrickson Past Chair, Chair (c 2008)
Fran Hinrichs 6th District (primary)
Dave Howard At-Large, 5th District (primary), 9th District (primary)
Mary Hughes 5th District (primary)
Arif Kahn Chair (c 2005)
Jeremy Keil Vice-Chair, 5th District (primary, alternate), Executive Director
Barbara Kerkman Postal Mail
Michelle Keshel 9th District (alternate)
Dan Kettnern 3rd District (alternate)
Leslie Graves Key Chair, Executive Director
Paul Kitzmann 3rd District (primary)
Ralph Klingsporn, District 8 (primary) (c 2009)
Ed Kozak 1st District (primary, alternate)
Tim Krenz Treasurer (c 2009), District 3 (alternate), District 7 (primary)
Roy Leyendecker 8th District (primary, alternate)
Rolf Lindgren Vice-Chair, 2nd District (primary, alternate)
Will Losch, District 7 (alternate) (c 2009)
Jim Maas Vice-Chair (c 2009, Chair, Secretary, At-Large, 7th District (primary, alternate)
H. Benjamin Malliett 8th District (alternate)
Ben Masel 2nd District (primary, alternate)
C J Mayer, Chair (c 1975)
Mike McKenna 4th District (primary) (c 2009), 5th District (primary)
Craig Mohn Treasurer
Jim Mueller Chair, Vice-Chair, At-Large, Legislative Liaison
Melissa Neitman Treasurer
Thomas Nelson 7th District (alternate)
Tim Nerenz, District 2 (primary) (c 2009)
Mark Niemi 8th District (primary)
Fred Noer 1st District (primary), Newsletter Editor
Ben Olson III, Chair (c 2009)
Mike Oprish Treasurer
Randy Palmer District 3 (alternate) (c 2009, Secretary, 3rd District (primary, alternate)
Tom Peralta 3rd District (primary),
Tim Peterson District 5 (primary) (c 2009), Vice-Chair, At-Large, 5th District (primary), 9th District (primary, alternate)
Thomas H. Phillips 6th District (primary, alternate)
Nick Piergrosi At-Large, 6th District (primary)
Brian Pitlik 8th District (primary)
Darren Powers At-Large, 2nd District (alternate)
Nick Rajnovic District 1 (alternate), 4th District (primary, alternate)
Dave Redick, Chair
Michael Riley 9th District (alternate)
Mary Roffers Chair
Markus Rostig Treasurer, 6th District (alternate)
James Rustad Judiciary Chair
Fred Schleifer 8th District (alternate)
Carl Schoen 3rd District (primary, alternate)
Corey Scholtka 5th District (alternate)
Robert Schramm At-Large, 9th District (primary), Newsletter Editor
Kevin Scott Schultz At-Large
Doug Schwartz 8th District (alternate)
Stu Seffern 2nd District (primary, alternate)
Jim Sewell District 1 (primary) (c 2009), Secretary, 1st District (primary, alternate)
Gerald Shidell At-Large
Craig Smith 8th District (primary, alternate)
Dave Snyder 6th District (primary)
Brad Sponholz, District 1 (alternate) (c 2009)
Michael Stanley Campaign Coordinator
Linda Stanley 5th District (primary, alternate), Web Site
Carl Sterken 8th District (primary)
Linda Sturtzen Chair (c 2007)
Andy Sutton 7th District (alternate), Webmaster
Tim Szcsykutowicz, District 2 (alternate) (c 2009)
Anthony Tardola 2nd District (alternate)
Ed Thompson, Chair
Herman Tollenaar 8th District (primary, alternate)
Wilfred Tremblay 1st District (alternate)
Laurel Triatik 8th District (alternate)
Leroy Watson District 5 (alternate)
Paul Weir Web Site
Todd Welch, District 3 (primary) (c 2009)
Tom Westgaard Chair, Vice-Chair, Treasurer, Secretary
Ken Zollner Media and Field Coordinator

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