Nicholas Sarwark, the chairman of the national Libertarian Party, has thrown his hat into the ring for mayor of Phoenix, America’s fifth-largest city. On Tuesday, Sarwark filed his paperwork with the city clerk’s office, and posted a video explaining why he’s seeking public office for the first time.
The incumbent mayor, Greg Stanton, has announced that he is running for Congress as a Democrat in the 2018 elections. Under Arizona’s “resign to run” law, that means he must resign his current office no later than May 30. The timing of the special election, which is officially nonpartisan, will be determined by exactly when Stanton resigns.
As Chairman, Nicholas Sarwark presided over the Libertarian Party’s most successful year ever
Sarwark is best-known to Libertarians as the party’s national chairman, including presiding over the convention last year in Orlando that nominated Govs. Gary Johnson and Bill Weld. Sarwark was first elected to the position in 2014, and was re-elected in a landslide in 2016.
He is also an attorney, who worked for several years as a public defender, and the third-generation owner of Sarwark Consolidated Auto Sales, the largest and oldest independent car dealership in Phoenix.
Like a handful of other professions such as realtors, car dealers often find the leap to politics made easier by their widespread name recognition. A substantial chunk of the city’s population has done business with Sarwark, and everyone else has at least seen the ads featuring his memorable and unique surname.
Sarwark has a real chance to be elected Mayor of Phoenix
It’s an uphill fight, but Sarwark is putting together a team to take a serious run at it, bringing in both Libertarian and nonpartisan talent. As the national party chair, Sarwark has also developed a personal relationship with major donors, some of whom may now support his campaign.
The other likely candidates include two Democrats, both of whom serve on the city council. The state’s Republicans, facing a dearth of a candidates and little hope of viability in the Democrat-leaning city, may sit the election out altogether.
Because it’s a nonpartisan race, party labels won’t appear on the ballot, and both Democrats will face Sarwark in the general election. If no candidate wins outright with over 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held between the top-two vote-getters.
(Photo of Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark speaking with supporters of former Governor Gary Johnson at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Airport Marriott in Phoenix, Arizona by Gage Skidmore)