Day Five of the Jack News Guide to the Libertarian Party Presidential Race in 2020.
Editor’s Note: The introduction to this series includes links to each of the nine profiles.
While not widely known outside the Libertarian Party, Mary Ruwart has been a familiar presence to party insiders for decades.
A pharmacological researcher by profession, Ruwart has three times sought a place on the Libertarian Party’s presidential ticket. She sought the vice-presidential nomination in both 1984 and 1992, and the presidential nomination in 2008.
She is best known for being the runner-up to former Republican Congressman Bob Barr in the 2008 presidential contest. After six dramatic and contentious ballots in a crowded field, Ruwart was ultimately the last candidate standing in opposition to Barr.
Barr’s campaign went on to become a disappointment, finishing fourth – behind Barack Obama, John McCain, and Ralph Nader – with 523,686 votes, or 0.4 percent of the total. And he has become a fairly unpopular figure within the radical element of the Libertarian Party membership. Yet, many have fond memories of Ruwart as the alternative candidate, representing the party’s ideals and what might have been.
Ruwart is not without her controversies, and the most persistent one has been the views on child pornography and age of consent. Her book Healing Our World has gone through numerous updated and “corrected” versions.
In spite of that point of contention, her focus has long been on selling libertarianism as a compassionate and humane philosophy.
Ruwart is generally aligned with the party’s more radical wing, but her emphasis on messaging libertarianism as compassionate and tolerant also appeals to some in the center. As a Texan, she has a home-state advantage with what is usually the largest state delegation to national conventions. She also has a history of running as the Libertarian nominee for statewide offices in Texas. She ran for U.S. Senate there in 2000, and for State Comptroller in 2010.
In line with her profession, she has written extensively about the negative effects of the Food and Drug Administration in limiting patient access to life-saving drugs and treatments. In 2002, the party launched a campaign lobbying for her appointment to the FDA’s Board, although that was ultimately rejected by the George W. Bush administration.
Ruwart’s potential candidacy was the subject of a recent interview in Slate, with a headline asking if the soft-spoken and mild-mannered pharmacologist could be the “next Gary Johnson.”
(Photo of Mary Ruwart speaking at FreedomFest.)