Beyond Blue & Red: Maryland Third Parties Attempt To Change the Game

by Seph Fischer ‘25

In July of 2022, Suffolk University conducted a poll which revealed that only 25 percent of American voters are satisfied with current political party offerings. This number shrinks further when one begins focusing on younger voters. It’s clear that a third option is badly needed.

Maryland is consistently Democratic, and Montgomery County is even more so. Every single elected county executive since 1978 has been a member of the party, and all seatholders in the County Council are, too. In the most populous county of a state six million strong, why should one party represent them all?

At least, that’s the argument of the Working Class Party, a minor far-left party claiming to fight for working Americans. Cathy White was the Working Class Party’s candidate for Maryland lieutenant governor in the last election, along with running mate David Harding, who ran for governor. “We think ordinary workers can run and hold office. Dave and I are not professional politicians. We have jobs,” remarked White. “Neither the Democrats nor the Greens even pretend to represent workers … [Democrats] are busy saying everything is fine. But hard-working people are suffering.”

The party’s dedication to the labor movement is certainly admirable. However, White and Harding still came in a distant fourth in last year’s gubernatorial election, receiving a meager 0.9 percent of the vote. Voters might start to wonder what the Working Class Party is doing to enfranchise itself with them. But according to White, her and Harding’s race wasn’t about winning. Rather, it was about sending a message. “Of course, we knew Wes Moore would win … But we ran to put the idea forward that workers need their own voice,” said White.

The Working Class Party isn’t the only party attempting to make a splash in Maryland politics. The Libertarian Party remains the third most popular political party — nationally, statewide, and in Montgomery County itself. The Libertarian Party prides itself as a champion of freedom. “We try to keep the Libertarian Party a big tent, welcoming to everyone who wishes to prioritize liberty,” said Eric Blitz, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Maryland. “We try to appeal to younger voters by demonstrating the value of liberty in their lives; that liberty protects their power to choose for themselves how to best live their lives.”

Favoring minimizing the role of government, a Libertarian politician would likely support both a deregulated economy as well as police reform, a highly unusual combination of positions for any standard Republican or Democrat politician. These policies seem to have resonated with some Maryland voters. In last year’s governor’s race, David Lashar and running mate Christiana Logansmith raked in 1.5 percent of the vote, coming in third. While a relatively impressive result for a third party, elections still cannot be won with less than two percent of the vote.

Blitz believes the Party’s strategy for increasing its vote share should hinge on communication and reaching younger voters. “Honest and open in-person conversations are the most effective way to exchange ideas. Younger voters play a large role in building our base in Montgomery County and throughout the state. We work hard to help them register to vote as Libertarians (which they can do when they are 16),” said Blitz.

Both parties are dedicated to their specific causes and are thereby enticing current Maryland voters. Whether the ideas of parties like the Working Class Party or the Libertarian Party appeal more to Generation Z voters will determine the parties’ relevance in the coming years.