At the 2019 Libertarian Party of Georgia Convention on Saturday, party delegates voted for Ryan Graham to take over as the state party chair when the current Georgia General Assembly ends in April.
Graham, vice chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia and the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Atlanta, was born in Athens and helped play a role in establishing the Athens affiliate of the Libertarian Party.
“One of my first involvements with the party was as the affiliate director,” Graham said. “I want to continue to make a party presence in Georgia, and also work with our affiliates.”
Former candidate for Georgia Governor Ted Metz will be stepping down as the chairman of the Libertarian Party of Georgia to make way for Graham. Metz did not run for chair reelection and instead said he will be working for a nonprofit organization but has not finalized where yet.
“All I can tell you is it’s all about civil rights, man,” Metz said.
The party dealt with other procedural formalities during the convention, including amending the 2019 Libertarian Party of Georgia platform. One of the party’s edits included striking any language regarding abortion from the platform.
The libertarian platform on abortion originally read that the party recognizes “good-faith views on all sides” and simply believes the government should not be involved, but it was removed to encourage more individual discretion.
Libertarian Party for Athens Chairwoman April Brown said she agreed with the decision to strike the language from the platform.
“I think it should be decided on a personal candidate-by-candidate basis,” Brown said. “It shouldn’t be one of our hills to die on, so to speak, when deciding who is a good candidate.”
The only thing the party did not agree to accept was the elimination of language about the death penalty. The delegates opted to keep the language in the platform, explicitly stating the party is against the death penalty.
Martin Cowen, a Libertarian candidate for U.S. House in Georgia’s 13th district, was the strongest opponent of eliminating language about the death penalty from the platform.
“The state is too incompetent to carry out the death penalty,” Cowen said. “They’re hardly competent enough to impose anything, so I think the party ought to be opposed to the death penalty.”
There were also several speakers at the convention who talked about topics such as running for office, communications, ballot access and election procedures all to give the attendees an overview of where the Libertarian Party stands in Georgia.
April Brown said she felt like the Libertarian Party of Athens was already taking some steps to improve its reputation.
“We’re already doing things out in the community like going to commission meetings,” Brown said. “As an affiliate, you’re the eyes and ears of your community.”