Who is Chase Oliver, the Libertarian Party candidate for president?

Who is Chase Oliver, the Libertarian Party candidate for president?

After a raucous convention that included Robert F Kennedy Jr and former president Donald Trump, the Libertarian Party nominated Chase Oliver, a former Democrat and 38-year-old openly gay man, as its 2024 election candidate.

There is little chance that Mr Oliver will become president of the United States. The Libertarian Party, even when it has had high-profile nominees like former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, has never gained political traction.

Indeed, Mr Trump mocked attendees at the convention in the Washington Hilton this weekend and said if libertarians did not nominate him, they would continue “getting three per cent every four years.”

But Mr Oliver, who hails from Georgia and has regularly sought elected office in the state, might nonetheless play a meaningful role in the 2024 election.

A former Democrat recruited at Pride

Last year, Mr Oliver toldThe Bay Area Reporter that he started out supporting Barack Obama in 2008 in response to his anger at George W Bush over the war in Iraq. But he quickly grew disenchanted with Mr Obama’s expansion of the war.

Mr Oliver’s conversion toward becoming a libertarian began in 2010 when he attended the Atlanta Pride Festival, he said.

“John Monds, one of the most principled Libertarians I know, was running for governor, and he was the only candidate in that race who appeared at Atlanta Pride,” he posted on X.

“He wasn't afraid to stand on principle and defend the rights of self-expression and equality under the law. He won my vote that day and put me on the path to liberty.”

A fixture in Georgia politics

Mr Oliver has regularly supported criminal justice reform as a libertarian in Georgia. He was part of the opposition to the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, which activists have dubbed “Cop City.”

In 2020, he ran as a libertarian for Georgia’s 5th congressional district in the special election triggered after the district’s longtime congressman, late civil rights activist John Lewis, died. Mr Oliver won only 712 votes in that race, little more than 2 per cent of the vote.

In 2022, he ran again as a libertarian against incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger and former University of Georgia football star Herschel Walker. In October 2022, he appeared alongside Mr Warnock after Mr Walker opted not to attend a debate.

In November of that year, Mr Oliver won 1.35 per cent of the vote in the state. That triggered a December runoff between Warnock and Walker because Georgia law requires a candidate receive an outright majority in an election.

What impact could he have?

While it is extremely unlikely that Mr Oliver will win the presidency, he could play a role in denying President Joe Biden or Mr Trump votes.

As a pro-immigration, pro-criminal justice reform candidate, he could siphon votes away from Mr Biden. Indeed, during his acceptance speech at the libertarian conference this past weekend, he criticised the war between Israel and Hamas, saying “end the genocide, ceasefire now and support peace around the world,” Al Jazeera reported.

Similarly, as a limited-government candidate, he could easily attract those who are dissatisfied with Mr Trump. The former president ballooned the federal deficit with massive tax cuts for the wealthy and expanded the social safety net during the Covid-19 pandemic.