Illinois Libertarians are set to kick off their state party convention in the northwest suburban Des Plaines Friday.
The Libertarians are a long-shot on the Illinois presidential ballot, but they do have something to gain this election year.
Democratic President Barack Obama is a strong favorite to win his adopted home state.
But Libertarian state party Chair Lupe Diaz says that won’t stop his members from getting together to share ideas about smaller government and less regulation - the core values of the party.
"‘Course, we call it 'Libertarian Socializing,'" Diaz said. "We don’t wanna get it mixed up with 'Socialist.'"
The Libertarian Party’s presidential and vice-presidential, Gary Johnson and James Gray, are the only two official party candidates who even made it on the 2012 ballot in Illinois, Diaz said. There were three other candiadtes running for local offices, but they were challenged and kicked off the ballot, he said.
If the Libertarian presidential ticket wins more than five percent of the vote, the Libertarians will become a so-called “established party” in Illinois. Right now, Libertarians need to collect 25,000 signatures to get many of their candidates on the ballot in Illinois; the coveted established party status would mean they need far fewer.
"You know, it’s like a stepping stone," Diaz said. "You have to, you know, get in the people’s living rooms and, you know, make libertarian more an everyday word."
In 2006, Green Party candidate Rich Whitney did well enough in the guberantorial race to establish the Greens, though they lost that title in 2010.
Right now, there are just two established parties in Illinois: Democratic and Republican.