Meeting in Waynesboro on July 23, the State Central Committee of the Libertarian Party of Virginia voted to authorize its chairman, Wilbur N. Wood of Berryville, to certify J. Todd Martinsen of Spotsylvania County as a Libertarian candidate in the election for the Virginia State Senate in the Fourth District.
Martinsen, a first-time candidate, will face off against incumbent Senator Ryan McDougle (R-4), who first won the seat in a special election called to fill the unexpired term of Bill Bolling of Hanover County, who had become Lieutenant Governor. He was re-elected to a full term in 2007.
The post-redistricting Fourth District is now centered on Caroline County while it retains parts of Westmoreland, Spotsylvania, and Hanover counties. It also includes the Northern Neck counties of Northumberland, Essex, Richmond, and Lancaster.
Just before the Libertarian Party’s meeting, Martinsen spoke with the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about his background, his decision to run for office, and the issues that will animate his campaign.
Martinsen’s first major political experience came during his junior year as a student at Michigan State University, when he worked as a page in the lower house of the Michigan legislature. His time among legislators turned him off from politics for many years.
“My experience in the state capitol shied me right off of it,” he explained. “I didn’t like what I was seeing. I witnessed things that were illegal. It just wasn’t pleasant. So I totally shied away from the whole political arena for years.”
He continued to keep informed about public affairs, however, by watching the TV news and reading newspapers.
“I’m one of those people,” he conceded, “who reads the paper, sees the headlines, starts to rant.” As this went on for a long time, finally his wife said to him, “’What are you going to do about it?’”
What he did was look for the Libertarian Party.
Finding the LPVA
“A couple of years ago, I started to look closer at the Libertarian Party,” finding the LP web site, where he took the World’s Smallest Political Quiz. That was when he discovered “that’s really where I aligned.”
After that, he attended his first Libertarian Party meeting at the monthly Patrick Henry Supper Club in Richmond, where he met local LPVA activists.
Eventually, he said, “about six months ago, I just decided, if I’m really going to get involved, I just need to put my own hat in the ring,” and that’s how he ended up as a candidate in the Fourth State Senate District.
“I’m trying to get involved at the state level, [to] see if there are things I can bring” to the political arena, such as “some fresh blood and energy.” He wants to bring more people into the Libertarian Party as members, especially people who will “stand up for civil liberties.”
Martinsen is a believer in revolving public offices. He does not think people should make a career out of elective office, but rather serve for a time and then return to their homes and communities. He holds out George Washington as the pre-eminent example of this ideal.
No career politician
“To me,” he said, “holding an office is a civic duty. So do it. [It’s] fine if you hold more than one office or you move on to another [elected job] but the ‘40-year congressman’? I don’t think we should be doing that. I think that’s how we’ve gotten into some of the messes that we’re in right now, economically and everything else.”
Martinsen is currently collecting the petition signatures necessary to secure his place on the November ballot. He hopes to collect 400 signatures in all, far more than the required 250 for a state senate seat.
There is no Democrat in the race but the deadline for candidates to file to run as an independent is 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 23, the same day that political party primary elections are being held this year.
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