By Terrence McCoy
By Scott Fishman
By Deirdra Funcheon
By Allie Conti
By New Times Staff
By Ryan Pfeffer
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By Kyle Swenson
But he does envy the Libertarians' press coverage. "It has been effective for them," he says. "If we have failed somewhere, it is that the press doesn't care what we think; they care about what we are doing. And the Libertarians have done something."
The party's publicity stunt has interested the media. One Libertarian might not merit much attention. But 73? That's news. There have been 15 stories about Operation Full Slate in Florida newspapers since June, including in the Florida Times-Union, the Orlando Sentinel, the Fort Myers News-Press, and the St. Petersburg Times. An interview Susan Lipschultz gave to the Palm Beach Post wound up on page 1A of the paper September 21. Can't do much better than that for placement.
Operation Full Slate has made for some strange geography, though. Britt Craig, a 53-year-old Army retiree, lives on a 41-foot Gulfstar sailboat in St. Augustine Harbor. He is running for office 177 miles to the south in District 105 in Vero Beach. Like Eckert, he's never visited the community. If elected, Craig says he'll head that way. "My pension follows me," he drawls. "I live on a boat, so I could be down there in two days, dragging my baggage with everything I own."
Craig says he's too focused on spreading the Libertarian message in his hometown to worry much about Vero. Every weekend, he sets up a table on St. George Street in St. Augustine and stretches a blue-and-white banner across it that reads, "Libertarian Party: Defenders of Freedom." That message touches a nerve, Craig says, because the city outlawed musicians and artists on the pedestrian thoroughfare in 2000. A lot of people think the prohibition went too far. "Some of them don't believe the Libertarian Party can make a difference," he says, "but most everybody wants a difference to be made."
If Craig is the Libertarians' P.T. Barnum, the Lipschultzes are the party's Lockhorns. They live in a circa 1950 ranch home with an American flag flapping on a pole out front in the tidy neighborhood of Boca Square. Both are lifelong activists, believers first in the Great Society and then the Reagan Revolution. They became disenchanted with the Republicans after the election of George W. Bush.
Asked whether any of the Libertarians has a chance of winning, Nathan mentions a black candidate running in Orlando. John F. Kennedy might just garner a majority because the people of District 36 like the name, Nathan offers. "It's a black district," he says, "so they just might vote for him."
If Nathan scores an upset in District 92, he says he would give up his business, at least during the legislative session. And the ongoing remodeling project that has turned the Lipschultzes' house into a construction zone would be put on hold. Susan says she'd surrender her part-time catering business if she won too. With their combined incomes of $29,328 each as state legislators, they would about break even. "It would be fun," Nathan offers.
Susan is running against Democrat Irving Slosberg in District 90, which is located west of the couple's Boca Square home. Nathan is challenging Democratic incumbent John Seiler in District 92, which is in Broward County. They could rent in their districts if they won. "I chose a district that I felt was going to be close enough so if by some unforeseen reason lightning strikes and all of the Democratic Party votes are destroyed, I could rent an apartment there," Susan says.