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Chris Cole (born January 17, 1964, in Huntersville, North Carolina) is a Libertarian Party activist in North Carolina. He has run unsuccessfully for a number of local, state, and federal offices. In 2008, it was thought that his candidacy might act as a spoiler in what was expected to be a close U.S. Senate race.

Chris Cole
Personal details
Born (1964-01-17) January 17, 1964 (age 55)
Huntersville, North Carolina
Political partyLibertarian
ResidenceNorth Carolina
OccupationLibertarian politician

Early political careerEdit

In 1996, Cole unsuccessfully ran as a Libertarian for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly against Jim Black in House District 36. He was the first openly gay candidate to run for the General Assembly.[1]

In 2001, Cole sought election to the District 4 seat on the Charlotte City Council, challenging incumbent Malcolm Graham. Graham was re-elected, with 6,976 votes to Cole's 762.[2]

In 2002, Cole ran for the U.S. Congress in North Carolina's 9th congressional district. In that race, Republican Sue Myrick was re-elected with 72.4% of the vote to Democrat Ed McGuire's 25.8%. Cole received 3,374 votes, or 1.74%.[3]

Cole again ran for the City Council in 2003, this time for one of four at-large seats; the other candidates were three Democrats and four Republicans, including one incumbent from each of the two major parties. Two Republicans and two Democrats, including both incumbents, won the four seats; Cole received 5,533 votes, less than any other candidate. The four winners received from 36,743 to 41,661 votes; after Cole, the worst-performing candidate received 24,468.[4]

Cole was the Libertarian candidate for lieutenant governor in the 2004 election. Incumbent Democrat Beverly Perdue won re-election with 55.6% of the vote to Republican Jim Snyder's 42.8%. Cole received 56,368 votes, or 1.66%.[5][6]

2008 Senate raceEdit

In 2008, Cole ran for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Elizabeth Dole. When he entered the race, the Libertarian Party was not officially recognized by the state; rather than going through a primary, he had to secure signatures on a petition. One of his goals in running, he said, was to generate support for Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr and gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger; if either won more than 2% of the vote, the party would retain its recognition and would not need to gather signatures for the 2010 and 2012 elections.[7]

Cole's platform included ending the Iraq War and abolishing the personal income tax.[8] While Dole and Democratic challenger Kay Hagan insisted on the need for border security to deal with illegal immigration, Cole ascribed the problem to the minimum-wage law and other labor restrictions.[7]

The race between Dole and Hagan was expected to be close, and it was suggested that Cole might influence the outcome by taking a small but significant share of votes from one of the major-party candidates.[9] An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling showed 42% of respondents supporting Hagan to 39% for Dole; Cole was the choice of 5%.[10] Another survey indicated that Cole was drawing support of 6–7%.[9] In late October, a new Public Policy Polling survey showed Hagan leading Dole 48–45%, with Cole chosen by 4%.[11] According to Cole, his candidacy would draw support from both the Republican and the Democrat, although slightly more from the former: fiscal conservatives dissatisfied with the Bush administration would choose him over Dole, while voters alienated by Hagan's opposition to same-sex marriage and by what Cole called her "immigrant-bashing" might transfer their support to him.[10]

When the election was held, the race proved much less close than expected. Hagan defeated Dole with 52.65% of the vote to 44.18%; Cole received 133,430 votes, or 3.12%.[12]

After 2008Edit

In 2016, Cole ran as a Libertarian for the 41st District seat in the North Carolina Senate. He challenged incumbent Jeff Tarte, a Republican who had held the seat since 2012. Tarte won the election, with 55,155 votes, or 54.5% of the total; Democrat Jonathan Hudson received 41,214 votes, or 40.7%; and Cole received 4,894 votes, or 4.8%.[13][14][15][16]


  1. ^ "Chris Cole to Lead Gay Community Outreach". Tarheel Libertarian. April/May 1997. Article reproduced at Libertarian Party of North Carolina. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  2. ^ Vote totals at "Mecklenburg County, NC: November 6, 2001 - Municipal and School Board General Election", at Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website; retrieved 2012-01-19. Graham's incumbency indicated at his VoteSmart biography; retrieved 2012-01-19.
  3. ^ "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 5, 2002". Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. 2003-05-01. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  4. ^ Vote totals at "Mecklenburg County, NC: November 4, 2003 - 2003 Municipal General & School Board Election", at Mecklenburg County Board of Elections website; retrieved 2012-01-19. Incumbents listed in Alan B. Edmonds, "Area Attorneys Win Most Local Elections", Mecklenburg Bar News, November 2003; retrieved 2012-01-19.
  5. ^ "Merritt Takes State Auditor Post; Two Still Undecided In Council Of State". WRAL TV. 2004-11-03. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  6. ^ "State certifies most races". News & Observer. 2004-11-24. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  7. ^ a b Binker, Mark. "Libertarian says government isn’t always solution". News & Record (Greensboro). 2008-07-07. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  8. ^ "Christopher Cole for U.S. Senate". Libertarian Party of North Carolina. Archived 2012-02-07 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  9. ^ a b Kraushaar, Josh. "Spoiler alert: Independents may rock races". Politico. 2008-09-23. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  10. ^ a b "Is Cole the tipping point?" Archived 2008-10-24 at the Wayback Machine News & Observer. 2008-08-27. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  11. ^ Beckwith, Ryan Teague, Jane Stancill, and Bill Krueger. "Perdue tries to whistle up a Mayberry miracle". News & Observer. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  12. ^ "Official Election Results for United States Senate: 2008 U.S. Senate Campaigns". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved 2012-01-12.
  13. ^ James, Ryan. "N.C. Senate District 41 candidates discuss priorities, goals". Lake Norman Herald Weekly. 2016-10-20. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  14. ^ "NC Senate District 41: Incumbent Jeff Tarte faces two challengers". Charlotte Observer. 2016-10-18. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  15. ^ "Senator Jeff Tarte Endorsed By Over One Hundred Elected Officials". Press release by Jeff Tarte for State Senate, 2015-12-08. Retrieved 2016-12-17.
  16. ^ "North Carolina 41st District State Senate Results: Jeff Tarte Wins". New York Times. 2016-12-13. Retrieved 2016-12-17.