Lars Mapstead talks 2024 strategy ahead of Libertarian presidential candidate forum in Jacksonville

Lars Mapstead
Ahead of the forum, we spoke with candidate Lars Mapstead. Could 2024 be the LP's year to break through?

For those Northeast Florida residents looking for an alternative to the two-party system in 2024, Saturday night offers an opportunity to hear from a group of five Libertarian hopefuls.

Libertarians Lars Mapstead, Chase Oliver, Michael RechtenwaldJoshua Smith, and Mike ter Mast will be at the Blue Sky Bar and Grill on Monument Road at 7 p.m. for a forum event. Early arrivals can talk to the candidates at a meet-and-greet starting at 6 p.m.

Though the nomination is far from locked up, as evidenced by five candidates appearing and a national LP that has seen changes over the decades, Mapstead’s name has appeared in General Election polls with single digit support. The high point, from an internal Gravis poll conducted for the campaign, is 4%. A Wall Street Journal poll from the summer had Mapstead at 1%, meanwhile.

Ahead of the event, we talked to Mapstead, a Californian who has raised just shy of $300,000 up until this point, about the path ahead. We also discussed Florida issues (specifically Gov. Ron DeSantis), and how he would do what previous LP candidates have failed to do and get on the 2024 debate stage if he becomes the party’s 2024 standard bearer.

Mapstead told us his first major influence politically wasn’t a libertarian per se; rather, it was 1992 presidential candidate Ross Perot. The Texas businessman’s focus on “budget deficits” and “endless spending” crystallized his belief that government was “stealing (his) future.”

He also cites former Libertarian and eventual Republican Ron Paul as another formative influence, with his focus on debt and the Federal Reserve’s manipulation of the currency supply, leading him to his current focus on economics and taxation.

Mapstead also has opinions on the Israel-Hamas War. A father of two young daughters, he puts himself in the position of the Israelis during what he (and others) call the country’s “9/11 moment,” balancing that against the anti-war positions central to his own political philosophy and that of the Libertarian Party generally.

“I think that if that happened in America, our response would be pretty fierce,” Mapstead said. “It’s not my position to tell, Israel how to respond to (the attacks).

That said, he’d like to see “peace in the Middle East, through things like the Camp David Accords or through the Abraham Accords.”

Mapstead noted also that given his civilian status, there are things he doesn’t know about the situation over there either that a Commander-in-Chief might, so he was unwilling to make a “snap judgement” on the appropriate American role in that theater.

“A lot of people jump to kind of armchair judgments on what they would do if they were the President of the United States. But without all the intelligence that is available to the president of the United States, it’s hard to make a judgment on exactly what I would do because I don’t really know all the moving pieces. I’m not privy to that intelligence,” he said, noting that there is a lot of history in the region, and a “lot of moving parts between the Sunni Muslims and Shiite Muslims and Saudi Arabia and Iran and (the war in) Iraq.”

We discussed Gov. DeSantis, as well as DeSantis’ foil: California Gov. Gavin Newsom.

Mapstead isn’t a fan of either one. He notes that DeSantis, despite his moves against COVID-19 restrictions, is “not a libertarian” philosophically. Regarding Newsom, he believes the Democrat is a “joke of a Governor,” was hypocritical during the pandemic, and that California has “deteriorated” for decades, with Newsom being part of that decline.

Mapstead acknowledges that a Libertarian candidate isn’t likely to win the popular vote against President Joe Biden and likely Republican nominee Donald Trump, so his strategy reflects that.

“It’s almost impossible to win 270 electoral votes due to winner take all rules in states. It’s really a big challenge. But what I’ve come to figure out is that winning electoral votes is achievable. And so my campaign is focused on winning electoral votes and hopefully winning enough electoral votes in a few states to deny both Trump and Biden the the election, the 270 electoral votes needed to win,” Mapstead said.

If successful, that gambit “throws the election to the newly elected House of Representatives where each state gets one vote for who’s gonna be president. And they can pick from any of the candidates, and so that’s actually the path to a Libertarian presidential candidate taking the presidency.”

Along those lines, he has talked to other third-party candidates, including newly-minted independent Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. And Mapstead believes there is strength and opportunity for candidates that are outside of the bi-partisan framework.

He plans to “interact with the RFK camp, the no labels camp, the foreign party camp and try to work together include together to win enough electoral votes to deny Trump and Biden the election because I feel like that would wake America up. They would be like, ‘Wait a minute, these people can now win, or they can stop the election.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


  • Julia

    October 21, 2023 at 2:50 pm

  • Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

    October 21, 2023 at 4:14 pm

    Bless you for putting the spotlight on our beloved Libertarian Party.

    We certainly have a lot to say — at the national and State level — and we speak directly to the needs of our country and State.

    Putting the Presidential election into the House of Representatives is a Constitutionally-sufficient way of addressing the American Gordian Knot. I am delighted that the Libertarians are the ones who led the way.

  • MH/Duuuval

    October 21, 2023 at 7:55 pm

    “If successful, that gambit “throws the election to the newly elected House of Representatives where each state gets one vote for who’s gonna be president. And they can pick from any of the candidates, and so that’s actually the path to a Libertarian presidential candidate taking the presidency.”

    Do the math: How does this scenario not throw the election to Trump.

    • Larry Gillis, Libertarian (Cape Coral)

      October 21, 2023 at 7:59 pm

      The important thing, Bro, is that we get a Constitutional (and definitive) answer to the very important question: Who is the President-elect?

      No “hanging chads”. No “stop the steal”. A definitive answer.

      • MH/Duuuval

        October 22, 2023 at 11:05 am

        It’s less likely there is a definitive result with a third party involved. It’s your prerogative, of course, but for those who want definition a third party is not the answer — unless you go back to 1860.

    • Vicky Hanson

      October 22, 2023 at 9:15 pm

      Each state only gets one vote, with three options. After the November election when there isn’t a clear winner it is up to the three candidates to work the states’ (new?) leadership for their vote, and up to the constituents to influence the leadership.

  • rick whitaker

    October 21, 2023 at 8:13 pm


  • MH/Duuuval

    October 23, 2023 at 7:49 pm

    Floridians who oppose MAGA petty tyranny — whether from Trump or DeSantis or freelancers — would do well to remember 2000 when Ralph Nader pulled 100K votes in an election won by Jeb! Bush some 500+ votes.

    • Robert Enright

      October 29, 2023 at 5:58 pm

      G W, not Jeb.

      • rick whitaker

        October 29, 2023 at 8:33 pm


Comments are closed.


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