Meet the Gelineaus, Michigan’s Libertarian Family Slate

Nov 6, 2012 8:22pm
ap Bill Gelineau nt 121106 wblog Meet the Gelineaus, Michigans Libertarian Family Slate

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Bill Gelineau could have fielded other candidates to run alongside him, but instead, he kept it in the family.

The former Michigan Libertarian Party chairman and current political director is a habitual office-seeker. After past runs at state legislature, his target this year is Michigan’s third Congressional district, where he’s running for U.S. House against incumbent freshman Republican Rep. Justin Amash and Democratic challenger Steve Pestka.

He also organizes other Libertarians to run for office. This year his goal was to fill each of Michigan’s 14 Congressional-district ballots with a Libertarian option, and since Libertarians qualify for ballot access as a party in the state, it’s just a matter of nominating them. With a shortage of enthusiastic choices in two neighboring Central and Western Michigan districts, Gelineau asked his son and daughter-in-law.

John Gelineau, 26, and his wife of three years, Christie, 32, said yes. Bill nominated them at the state-party convention in June.

“I had a choice of asking John and Christie if they’d be willing to fill those seats instead of some of those unmotivated people who don’t know the district and may not want to run an active campaign,” Bill Gelineau told ABC News.

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“Some of it is kind of a little bit selfish on my part,” the elder Gelineau said. “To whatever extent the media and the news articles and the questionnaires that have our name on it create some sort of Google effort, it helps my campaign. … If someone happens to see Christie’s name because of the coverage she’s gotten, because it shows up in a poll, they Google her name and then they find my name, and they say, ‘Oh, I live in his district.’ So there was a small amount of method.”

When polls close in Michigan, the Gelineaus almost certainly won’t have won. But for them, that’s not really the point.

John said he’s helped his father with campaigns since the age of 12. For him, it was a way to spend time with his father, and he liked the idea of helping out again–while presenting voters in the Fourth District with an alternative to incumbent GOP Rep. Dave Camp, Democrat Debra Freidell, and Green Party candidate Pat Timmons.

“It was actually gung ho about it. I wasn’t the only option that he had–he asked me first. Obviously I have a job, I have a family to take care of, but the fact that he asked me first was a pretty big honor,” John Gelineau told ABC News. “I never thought, growing up, that I would ever be a part of the Libertarian Party. I’m not really huge into it–I like to put my back into things.”

John and Christie both have full-time jobs. And a baby. And Christie is six and a half months pregnant with their second child.

Consequently, Bill has taken care of most of the paperwork; John and Christie don’t do much active campaigning, if any.

“I’m just basically doing this as a favor,” said Christie, who is on the ballot in Michigan’s adjoining Sixth District, against another incumbent GOP congressman, Rep. Fred Upton. “I’m not really all that political. … I wasn’t expecting to gain anything, but it’s nice for people to have that extra choice if they don’t want to choose any of the other candidates.”

It’s a favor Christie’s father-in-law appreciates.

“I know full well that tomorrow I’m not going to be the new congressman from Grand Rapids,” said Bill, who noted that his ex-wife, John’s mother, has also run for office as a Libtertarian–as a state-legislative candidate, several times since they divorced.

“I hope that over the last three months we’ve had a chance to talk about things,” Bill Gelineau said. “I’m pretty pleased with it.”

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