The West Virginia Libertarian Party scored a key victory Tuesday, crossing the threshold to join the Democrat, Republican and Mountain parties as the state's fourth official party.
The party's nominee for governor, Preston County farmer and retired engineer David Moran, may have earned only 1.3 percent of the vote, but that was enough to get the party recognized as an official party in this state.
To attain that status, the party's candidate must receive more than 1 percent of total votes cast in the race for governor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant's office confirmed the Libertarian Party's new status on Thursday.
State Libertarian Party Chairman Michael Wilson hopes to use the recognition to build the party's base ahead of the 2014 and 2016 elections.
"I absolutely believe that the Libertarian Party of West Virginia will keep up the momentum throughout and beyond 2016," Wilson said. "We are already planning our 2013 activities and organizing our 2014 candidates."
Wilson said frustration with the state of national politics is driving voters to new perspectives.
"The bottom line is that the current system is broken and has shifted into a political tug-of-war that offers no true path to economic and social recovery for the people of our state," Wilson said.
"The introduction of new philosophies and political ideals challenges the current system and encourages debate which will promote real solutions to the problems facing our citizens," he said. "These introductions will come from third parties."
The recognition means that the party has guaranteed ballot access in state elections, excluding municipal elections.
Prior to the recognition, party candidates had to collect signatures from voters to get on the ballot.
State code requires that the number of validated signatures be at least 1 percent of the total number of ballots cast in the last election for that office. The Libertarian Party collected over 7,600 signatures to get Moran on the ballot this year.
"Now that ballot access restrictions have been lifted though our success in this general election, we can truly begin representing the people of West Virginia," Wilson said.