Libertarian pushes himself as alternative in nasty Virginia governor’s race

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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The Virginia gubernatorial race is easily the nastiest of 2013, but Robert Sarvis wants disaffected voters to know they have a libertarian option outside of Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The 36-year-old Libertarian Party nominee for governor isn’t polling in double digits yet — he’s not even being included in some polls — but he says his campaign is increasingly getting more attention as voters tire of the super PAC heavy Cuccinelli-McAuliffe slugfest.

“The main reason I ran was that I saw that the Republican and Democrat were both very bad for Virginia,” Sarvis told The Daily Caller. “And I wanted there to be an option that the people can vote for that’s both focusing on economic freedom, good economic policy and also personal freedom.”

His argument against the two colorful Republican and Democratic nominees: “Cuccinelli is very regressive in his social ideology — he wants to force his ideology on the rest of us, try to tell us how to live our lives, live our private lives. And Terry McAuliffe is just terrible on economic policy.”

Asked who is worse — Cuccinelli or McAuliffe — he responded, “I think they are both just really bad for Virginia.”

On the issues he disagrees with Cuccinelli and McAuliffe on, Sarvis unsurprisingly references drug policy.

“I think that we should legalize marijuana,” he said. “I think we have ruined a lot of lives and livelihoods by giving people criminal backgrounds for the mere possession of marijuana. It’s an enormous cost on state and local resources. In terms of enforcement and incarceration, it’s led to a lot of erosions of fourth amendment protections.”

Sarvis, a lawyer and software developer who once ran for the state Senate as a Republican but left the party, boasts of an unusual background.

“I’m the only person in the race that has an economics background,” he said. “I’m the only person in the race who has a background in the technology sector. I’m the only person whose marriage was once illegal in the state.”

Sarvis — who is half-Asian — references his black wife as he argues for gay marriage.

“Same sex marriage is an issue that is relevant today,” he said, “and I think that a lot of people that I come across don’t even know that interracial marriages were once illegal in Virginia. And I think that’s just an amazing fact.”

Citing his background, Sarvis argues, “as the youngest person in the race, I think I appreciate the challenges that we’re going to face over the next generation, with the rise of technology, and globalization.”

“We need to make sure that our government is not working with a 20th century mentality of centralized bureaucracies,” he said. “We have to have a much more modern state that uses technology to better provide services more efficiently.”

For now, Sarvis is just trying his best to remind people he’s actually running.

“There are three different challenges,” he said. “One is polls, one is debates and one is media.”

As for polls, Public Policy Polling had Sarvis at 7 percent in a July survey. Another poll conducted that month by Roanoke College had him at 5 percent.

But, citing the recent Quinnipiac University poll of the race, his campaign continues to lament how some surveys don’t include him.

He said he’s frustrated when he sees news stories quote people saying they wish there was a third party candidate in the race, but don’t mention him.

“I think that’s just bad journalism,” he said.

But he said he’s been getting more attention recently.

“We’re pleased that we’re getting more media coverage than most third party candidates do,” he said. “I still think it could be a lot more.”

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