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T Q&A

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David Euchner is the outgoing chairman of the Pima County Libertarian Party. An attorney in private practice, he was also a candidate for county attorney, getting 15.1 percent of the vote (a very, very distant second to incumbent Democrat Barbara LaWall, who got 76.9 percent of the vote; Green party candidate Claudia Ellquist finished third with 7.6 percent). That was one of the better showings by a local Libertarian on Election Day; while some county supervisor candidates got 18-21 percent as the only opposition for incumbents, most candidates in more contentious races got 5 percent of the vote or less. And presidential candidate Michael Badnarik--who made a campaign appearance here--managed only 0.57 percent of the Pima County vote. So, now what? I spoke to Euchner--whose hobbies include brewing his own beer--recently at a coffee shop. In tow was his 10-month-old son, Stefan (the first child of Euchner and his wife), who at one point--apparently unhappy with the direction of the interview--gummed my right knee.

Your reaction on how the election turned out?

I am not surprised, because on one hand, the mainstream media did what it could to pass off the presidential election as strictly a Bush-Kerry decision on a national level. ... We're happy with how we presented ourselves nationally and locally. ... Locally, the county supervisors' races were very telling. They held a special election for the bonds in May, when they very easily could have waited and done it in November. They also (during reapportionment) created their own districts, guaranteeing no opposition from major parties. By us running candidates, we are able to get our message out so people were able to hear it. Our message really does resonate; people just think they can't vote for someone who doesn't have a chance of winning.

How do you know that message is resonating, when the numbers don't show that happening?

Generally, people say they'd rather be left alone by the government wherever possible. The only problem with people is that they say, "I can trust myself, but I don't trust the other guy."

But how can you say that people really want less government when, for example, they keep voting to prohibit gay marriages and civil unions--which is more government intervention, when you think about it?

As far as the gay marriage issue, that was just one example in 11 states.

Dozens of other states had already voted in similar laws, and most people think they'd pass in all 50.

Not Massachusetts. But that's only one issue. Say there are 20 different issues: People generally want more freedom for themselves; they just don't trust other people. Take education, for example. People want more school choice, but they're afraid of what other people would do. They fear other parents don't care about their children, but the reality is, most parents do care about their children.

So, how do you overcome all this?

One of the most difficult things to do as a Libertarian is continue to be politically active without losing hope. It's very easy to get discouraged when most candidates are only getting 3-5 percent, and the presidential candidate doesn't even get 1 percent.

I can imagine. But where do you go from here?

The presidential candidate, from our perspective, is the most valuable resource, to have a candidate that embodies the principles of the party. ... Badnarik, I think, ended up getting fewer votes in the state of Arizona than I got in Pima County, but people found out about us through the presidential candidate.

OK, but where do you go from here?

Not everyone agrees how we should proceed; there are different ideas. As far as I am concerned, I want to continue to get Libertarian ideas known and accepted. There are two ways to do that: one, run candidates for office, and two, promote positive legislation, like extending the tax credit for private-school scholarship funds. A lot of people think that if you give money to a private school scholarship-fund, you're taking money away from the public system, depriving students. But you're actually giving students who want out of public schools a chance. If the credit is expanded ... more kids who can't afford private schools will get a chance.

Will we see your name on a ballot for public office again?

Probably. I can't say when or where; as you can see (with Stefan), my hands are pretty full.

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