Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Joe Wendt is suspending his campaign and withdrawing from active involvement in the Libertarian Party of Florida, charging Friday he’s been the victim of threats and intimidation from within the party.

Wendt’s declaration, issued by his campaign Friday morning, is the second quake to hit the Libertarian Party of Florida this week, following the angry resignation Sunday night of last year’s U.S. Senate candidate Paul Stanton. Like Stanton, Wendt claimed he had been threatened with physical violence and harassed, and accused the party leadership of doing nothing about it. However Wendt did not state any allegations of white supremacists within the party, as Stanton had done on Sunday.

Both Stanton and Wendt, a janitor from Tampa who campaigns as “Janitor Joe,” cited last Sunday’s LPF State Executive Committee meeting as a last straw.

“I can no longer in good conscious continue my campaign or continue any activity that would benefit such a dysfunctional and corrupt organization,” Wendt declared. “The so-called Party of Principle has embraced intimidation tactics and has completely abandoned Libertarian Principles.”

In his statement, Wendt did not name names, except when he commended Stanton as “one of the very few to stand up.” However, he did make veiled references within his allegations. He cited “a prominent member of the LPF, from Miami, [who] sexually harassed my campaign manager.” He also cited a member “from Bradford county, [who] threatened physical harm against me and my family numerous times on Facebook.”

He also claimed prominent LPF members have intimidated people within the party to not financially support his campaign, and said others have sent rude and obscene emails to members of his family.

Speaking to Orlando-Rising later Friday, Wendt said many of the threats he alluded to were “passive-aggressive” posts on social media, such as “I hope you have a good dental plan,” and said at the very least they were unbecoming of the party’s leadership, if not to be taken seriously.

Libertarian Party of Florida State Chairman Marcos Miralles of Miami denied to Orlando-Rising on Monday that anyone had made any threats against anyone else in the party, and dismissed Stanton’s Sunday night allegations as false and disheartening. He also could not be immediately reached for comment Friday morning.

Wendt went on to say the Libertarian Party of Florida, in his view, is being taken over by followers of Roger Stone, the former advisor to then-candidate Donald Trump who is known for his “win at any cost” views, and of Austin Petersen, the former Libertarian and now Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Missouri known for his ultra-conservative views, and for confrontational politics. Wendt said he sees the party in a downward spiral into irrelevancy.

“If the party bursts into flames, I would not lose sleep over it,” Wendt said. “I might roast marshmallows on it.”

 

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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