Libertarian Crashes the Party on Virginia’s Debate Night

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli talk before a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce debate Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in McLean, Va.
National Journal
Sarah Mimms
Add to Briefcase
Sarah Mimms
Sept. 25, 2013, 5:15 p.m.

Halfway through Wed­nes­day even­ing’s con­ten­tious gubernat­ori­al de­bate in Vir­gin­ia, a fe­male voice asked a ques­tion that was likely go­ing through the minds of many voters: “Can’t vote for either of these guys?”

Liber­tari­an Robert Sar­vis, who has been gain­ing in re­cent polling thanks to voters’ dis­sat­is­fac­tion with both of the main party can­did­ates, ran his first 30-second tele­vi­sion ad dur­ing the de­bate, tout­ing him­self as an­oth­er op­tion. Com­ing on the heels of more than 30 minutes of heated de­bate — in which Demo­crat­ic nom­in­ee Terry McAul­iffe ac­cused his Re­pub­lic­an rival, At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Ken Cuc­cinelli, of sup­port­ing a so­cial agenda that is bad for wo­men while Cuc­cinelli ac­cused McAul­iffe of want­ing to sell Vir­gin­ia to the highest bid­der — Sar­vis cri­ti­cized both can­did­ates, of­fer­ing Vir­gini­ans a third choice.

“Like you, I can’t vote for Ken Cuc­cinelli’s nar­row-minded so­cial agenda. I want a Vir­gin­ia that’s open-minded and wel­com­ing to all,” Sar­vis said in the spot. “And like you, I don’t want Terry McAul­iffe’s cronyism either, where gov­ern­ment picks win­ners and losers. Join me, and to­geth­er we can build a Vir­gin­ia that’s open-minded and open for busi­ness.”

While each of the ma­jor party can­did­ate’s neg­at­ives have ris­en over the past few months of an in­creas­ingly nasty cam­paign — 36 per­cent of voters said they had an un­fa­vor­able opin­ion of McAul­iffe in this week’s Wash­ing­ton Post-Abt SRBI poll, and a full 47 per­cent of voters had an un­fa­vor­able opin­ion of Cuc­cinelli — Sar­vis has be­gun to see an up­tick among voters clearly dis­sat­is­fied with both of their op­tions. The Post poll showed him with 10 per­cent sup­port among Vir­gin­ia voters in a three-way con­test, while a WRC-TV/NBC News/Mar­ist poll con­duc­ted around the same time showed him with 8 per­cent sup­port.

Sar­vis was not in­vited to par­ti­cip­ate in the de­bate, which was pro­duced by WRC-TV in Wash­ing­ton and aired on NBC af­fil­i­ates throughout the com­mon­wealth.

The ad was smart and well-timed, but it offered little in­form­a­tion about Sar­vis him­self, who sup­ports “re­spons­ible drug use” and gay mar­riage. It also neg­lected to men­tion his party af­fil­i­ation un­til the word “Liber­tari­an” ap­peared on-screen at the end of the ad.

A third-party can­did­acy is al­ways an up­hill battle, par­tic­u­larly for a can­did­ate like Sar­vis, who is not well known and has little in the way of money or a ground or­gan­iz­a­tion. But Sar­vis could pull in double-di­git sup­port in Novem­ber, po­ten­tially in­flu­en­cing the out­come of what is likely to be a low-turnout con­test.

What We're Following See More »
“PUBLICITY SEEKING”
Trump Blasts Graham, Flake on Twitter
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

As part of a twitter rant on Thursday morning, President Trump singled out Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham for criticism. He said Flake is "WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!" Trump also named Flake's primary challenger, Kelli Ward. He said Graham's contention that Trump suggested a moral equivalence between the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and the counter-protesters is a "disgusting lie."

Source:
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
2 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
22 hours ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
1 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
1 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login