Libertarian candidate for W.Va. Governor discusses campaigning third-party

Published: Oct. 21, 2020 at 9:38 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Erika Kolenich is the libertarian hoping to be the next governor of West Virginia. She visited Parkersburg on Wednesday to meet a few local business owners and to do some in-person campaigning. It’s been a rough year for candidates hoping to take a more grassroots approach as 2020 has hardly been the year of shaking hands and knocking on doors.

“It’s been far more challenging to campaign during COVID. Normally, libertarians as a grassroots group, we’d be at festivals, the Homecoming Festival, I think y’all have here. We’d be at those things, shaking hands, meeting people, we’d be doing parades. Obviously in this particular climate, we aren’t able to do that,” Kolenich told WTAP.

That’s not to say Kolenich wasn’t greeting people with only elbow bumps and a face masks while visiting a downtown business. The Libertarian greeted people however they asked to be, and says if she were elected she would lift the mask mandate set in place by Governor Jim Justice.

But this election is about more than taking office and making changes for the Libertarian Party. It’s also about making sure residents and future candidates can register as libertarians.

“My campaign is the ballot access race in the state of West Virginia. That means in order for folks to be able to continue to register as Libertarians in West Virginia, in order for anybody who wants to run as libertarian in West Virginia all the way from city council all the way up to president all depends on us getting one percent of the vote in the general election, in the gubernatorial race,” said Kolenich.

That’s not to say she isn’t in it to win it; Kolenich very much hopes she can pull out a victory in the Mountain State.

“I am running this race to win. With that being said, I am a realistic person. I understand that the odds of that are against me. Just because something is difficult, doesn’t mean it’s impossible, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing,” Kolenich said.

If she doesn’t take office next year, Kolenich says she hopes her campaign will at least help grow the Libertarian Party and raise awareness that there are options other than democrat or republican when voting.

Kolenich says she has been lucky to get more media attention than other Libertarians, but like many other third party candidates, she is disappointed to still be excluded from major events like the gubernatorial debate.

“It is voter suppression. It is the system telling you that there are only two candidates that are viable,” said Kolenich.

Kolenich discussed her platform in greater detail with WTAP. Look for additional content from her as we get closer to Election Day.

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