For a moment last year, they were Florida's favorite political underdogs.
If not hip, Libertarians were at least funky. They sided with conservatives on shrinking the government and owning guns, and stood with liberals on marriage equality and ending the war on drugs.
Palm Harbor's Adrian Wyllie went on to have the most successful third-party finish anyone could recall in a Florida governor's race, and Clearwater's Lucas Overby had the second-best showing of any Libertarian candidate for Congress in the nation in 2014.
At last, Florida Libertarians were hopeful of being taken more seriously.
Then along came the goat blood-drinking, eugenics-talking, civil war-promoting U.S. Senate hopeful from Orlando named Augustus Sol Invictus.
"All the good, hard work so many people have done in the party, and what does the press run with? Goat blood," said Stacey Selleck, membership chair for the Libertarian Party of Pinellas. "(Invictus) does not represent our party at all, and it's shattering our world to have people think he does.
"We're too small to have a kook this big."
Unfortunately for the Libertarians, they may have created this monster. Not because their views align with Invictus' more outlandish claims, but because they drew unwanted attention to such a minor political character.
In case you haven't run across his story previously, Invictus (his full name is Latin for "majestic unconquered sun" and is not his birth name) is a 32-year-old lawyer with an outrageous sense of self-importance.
He claims to have once walked from Orlando to the Mojave Desert, sacrificed a goat as a gift to the gods of wilderness and renounced his citizenship (though not officially). He wrote a paper in law school basically extolling the virtues of a master race (he now says his thinking has changed), was expelled from a satanic church because of his politics and has prophesied he is destined to be a leader in a soon-to-come civil war in America.
In other words, he was easily dismissed.
That is until Wyllie announced he was resigning as Florida's Libertarian Party chairman because the state's executive committee declined to disavow Invictus.
The candidate went from being a cartoonlike character to having stories about him appear in GQ and the New York Daily News. Within days, the Seminole County Libertarian Party disbanded over the rift, and Pinellas Libertarians called for Invictus to disassociate himself from the party.
Overby, who lost to David Jolly in the U.S. House race last year, had already left the party before Invictus came along. Now a no-party-affiliation voter, Overby said Libertarians were starting to swing too far to the right, and Invictus is simply a gross example of the type of over-the-top rhetoric he was starting to hear.
"There are still a lot of activists, a lot of good people, in the party, and this is going to hurt them. This is going to hurt their recruiting efforts," said Overby, who said he plans to run for another office in the future. "Crackpots exist in all parties, but the bigger parties have the resources to control someone like that by grabbing a better candidate and throwing their money and support behind them. Libertarians don't have that option.
"It's sad, because he's pretty much the antithesis of what Libertarians stand for."
Invictus, who says he is under the watchful eye of the FBI and federal marshals, seems to understand his candidacy is a long shot. Still, based on his campaign website's "Call for Total Insurrection," he seems confident in his ultimate direction.
"Do you know why I am dangerous?" Invictus wrote on the website. "It is not because anyone actually believes that I'm going to lose my mind and go on a shooting rampage. … It is because I am an artist who has wandered like a black wolf into the 'real' world. It is because I have the power to turn the System against itself."