While Libertarians couldn’t pull off a serious challenge in a Sarasota area special election this year, party leaders hope to have more than a few more shots at success this fall. There’s a statewide effort to run a Libertarian candidate in every state House race in Florida, and, in Sarasota County, officials hope to contest even the smallest nonpartisan elections. “Ideally we would have a candidate for every spot and every seat that’s going to come available,” says Todd Dennison, chairman of the Libertarian Party of Sarasota County. Now, that offers at least as much chance for heartache to the porcupine party. Sarasota businesswoman Alison Foxall raised more money than any Libertarian House candidate when running in District 72 this February, then pulled just 3 percent of the vote. Foxall says she’ll run for office again in the fall, though probably not for House. And while she doesn’t know how long it will take to score a win, she feels voters need to get used to a third option. “The more we run candidates, the more we are relevant.”

Does Lourdes Ramirez foresee a different outcome in a Sarasota County Commission election this year? The Siesta Key Republican four years ago got trounced in the same race by Al Maio after he put out a mailer picking on her history as a professional fortune teller. She still gets asked at party functions whether she can read people’s political thoughts by looking at their palms. In 2018, she’s filed to challenge now-incumbent Commissioner Maio and hopes the gypsy jokes become a thing of the past. After years of activism, she thinks her dedication to public discourse will wear down those attacks. “Most people, even if  they don’t agree with it, know all that is part of my past,” Ramirez says. “They understand I am dedicated to my beliefs. Otherwise I wouldn’t have stuck with it for all of these years.”

Another election opportunity means another place for James Buchanan to call home. The Gulf Coast Republican in March announced his candidacy for a third state House district in less than a year. The real estate agent, son of U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, originally planned to run this year in Bradenton-based District 71, which will be an open seat this November. However, he then decided to run for an unexpected special election in Sarasota-centered District 72, where he unexpectedly lost to Democrat Margaret Good in November. Some wondered if he would jump back in to the 71 race, but there, Bradenton attorney Will Robinson has since shored up party support there. Meanwhile, a political shuffle in Sarasota County has led to both District 73 and District 74 becoming open seats as Joe Gruters runs for state Senate and Julio Gonzalez seeks a seat in Congress. After considering both races, Buchanan in March announced he would run for Gonzalez’s Venice area District 74 seat. If he wins one of these elections, he’ll have to move to the district before taking office.