Debunking The GOP Smears Of Robert Sarvis

This article was written in 2014 by Peter Fuentes and posted on the Robert Sarvis For Senate web site.  It is being re-printed here with permission of the author to remind everyone that Robert Sarvis is in fact a “real libertarian.”  Feel free to share this far and wide…
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Robert Sarvis, Virginia Libertarian

Last year, during the gubernatorial campaign, the GOP unleashed a barrage of false attacks against Robert Sarvis.

Why did the GOP do it? Because the GOP was, and is, running scared! The rise of a candidate like Robert Sarvis showed just how out-of-touch the GOP is, especially with millennial voters, moderates, libertarians, and independents. (And by nominating “Establishment Ed” Gillespie this year, the GOP is showing it’s out-of-touch with fiscal conservatives, too!)

When Robert Sarvis entered the race for Governor, the GOP nominee arrogantly dismissed him as “a one or two percent vote getter.” Oh, how his views changed just a few months later!

As Sarvis climbed in the polls, eventually reaching double digits, the GOP panicked. Unable to appeal to voters honestly, the GOP resorted to politics-as-usual, unleashing false accusations about Sarvis.

But every single accusation was FALSE!

So much for the party that likes to talk about “values”… The smears prove how desperate, morally bankrupt, and intellectually dishonest the Virginia GOP has become.

If you know a GOP partisan loyalist, you’ve probably heard some of the below claims.

The GOP claimed that Robert Sarvis was a “Democrat plant” put in place to steal the election for Terry McAuliffe last year and Mark Warner this year.
FALSE – Robert Sarvis was not, and is not, a Democrat plant. That’s an absurd claim.

Sarvis ran for State Senate in 2011 as a (libertarian) Republican against the Democratic Majority Leader Dick Saslaw. Sarvis left the Virginia GOP because he found it to be, in his words, “hypocritical and vacuous on economics and unsound on personal liberty.” But he doesn’t think the Democratic Party is any better.

Indeed, Robert Sarvis, like many other voters, believes the two-party system is broken and has failed to protect liberty or limit government. He rightly points out that both Republicans and Democrats alike are responsible for mass surveillance of citizens, the $17 trillion debt, the failed drug war, the immigration mess, enormously expensive wars of choice, mass incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders, loss of civil liberties, rampant over-regulation of the economy, the financial crisis and Great Recession, and much more.

In 2012, the Libertarian Party of Northern Virginia tried to recruit Sarvis to run for Congress in the 8th district, but Sarvis declined. In early 2013, Sarvis was asked by the Libertarians if he would run for Governor. Seeing the low-quality, illiberal candidates being put forth by the major parties, he agreed, believing that Virginia deserved a better choice. He ran a campaign that inspired many voters in Virginia and many Libertarians around the country.

This year, Robert Sarvis is running for the U.S. Senate to again give voters a better choice.

 

The GOP claimed that Robert Sarvis was funded by the Democrats. 
FALSE – Sarvis was the largest contributor to his own gubernatorial campaign, giving close to double the next-highest contributor. That alone suggests the GOP’s claim is unserious, but let’s drill down further.

The next highest contribution was for ~$11k and came from the Libertarian Booster PAC, a PAC founded by the Executive Director of the Libertarian Party to help Libertarians overcome burdensome ballot access rules favored by Republicans and Democrats to stifle competition.

The Libertarian Booster PAC received contributions from long-time libertarian donors, including a Texas entrepreneur who has a long history of supporting Libertarians and is well-known to the Texas Libertarian Party and national Libertarian Party. He has also contributed to various individual Republican and Democrat candidates, as is common with donors to third parties.

The GOP tries to make a great deal of the fact that the Texas entrepreneur’s wife fundraised for Obama, but if contributions to other parties is a sign of ill-dealing, the GOP should look in the mirror. It took less than ten minutes to find on VPAP a group that gave a $25,000 contribution—more than any donation to the Sarvis campaign—to BOTH Cuccinelli AND various Democratic groups, like the Democrats’ Commonwealth Victory Fund, the McAuliffe campaign, and later McAuliffe’s Inauguration Committee. By the GOP’s donation illogic, it seems clear that Cuccinelli was the Democrat plant! That would make a lot more sense, for what better way to undermine free markets than to tie it to wildly unpopular social policies?

In any case, Wes Benedict, the executive director of the Libertarian Party and founder/director of the Libertarian Booster PAC, has himself refuted the GOP claims about a Democratic cabal. Of Rush Limbaugh’s claims that “the Democrats enlisted a ‘fake Libertarian candidate’ who was ‘bought and paid for by an Obama bundler,'” Benedict said flatly, “That’s an outright lie, and Limbaugh should retract his claim.”

Note just how sad the GOP has become, by its own estimation—it got derailed by a donation totaling $11k?! A donation from Libertarians to a Libertarian? A donation that was just 5% of the Libertarian candidate’s spending, and less than 0.1% of the GOP’s spending in the election?

And if the GOP wants to talk money, they should start by addressing the cancer of cronyism and corporate welfare in their own party. (Dems, too.) In 2013, the Rs and Ds brought in millions in cronyist corporate donations, and 70% of their donations from out-of-state.Sarvis took the opposite approach, raising money from individuals across the political spectrum, and 68% of his funds came from in-state.

The truth is simple:

Robert Sarvis wouldn’t be sacrificing his own personal resources or family time to be a “plant” for a party he does not support. Anyone who knows him or who has heard him speak knows this. He also wouldn’t be spending so much time and energy exposing Democrat Mark Warner’s voting record in support of the surveillance state or against reforms to better protect privacy, or Warner’s inaction on issues like sentencing reform and demanding Congressional authorization for military action abroad.

Why is Robert Sarvis running as a Libertarian? Because he believes passionately in freedom and good government and recognizes both Republicans and Democrats are undermining both.

Why is the GOP so scared of Robert Sarvis and the Libertarians? If a Libertarian Party candidate wins over 10 percent of the vote in a statewide election, the Libertarian Party of Virginia will gain major party status. Since 1999, almost 50 percent of Virginia House of Delegate races and over 40 percent of Virginia Senate races have been unopposed. That’s why the Libertarian Party of Virginia has repeatedly recruited Robert Sarvis to run. With major-party status, it will be easier to run candidates on a more level playing field, and there will be more Libertarians running in two-way races. Competitive elections are good for Virginia, and the GOP and Democrats don’t want that.

The GOP claims Robert Sarvis tipped the election to McAuliffe and will do the same for Warner.
FALSE – The GOP refuses to accept that it nominated a candidate Virginia voters simply didn’t like. Instead, the GOP blames Sarvis for its 2013 loss, despite the fact that the evidence shows this is absurd.

First, note that there was no third-party candidate running for Lt. Gov or Attorney General, and the GOP lost both those races, too!

Second, go back and look at the polls. Throughout the entire race, polls showed Cuccinelli behind substantially, with Sarvis taking fairly equally from both sides. Not only that, a very telling poll showed that, “among voters who support Sarvis, 62% approve of [Bob] McDonnell, while 75% disapprove of Cuccinelli”! Republican-leaning moderates who supported Sarvis were simply NOT going to be voting for Cuccinelli.

But it gets worse for the GOP meme. Election Day exit polls and precinct analysis clearly demonstrate Sarvis didn’t affect the outcome. Even conservative/Republican blogs admit that fact:

Bearing Drift, in Sarvis Almost Cost McAuliffe the Election”, noted that an Election Eve poll had close to half of Sarvis voters saying McAuliffe was their second choice and that Election Day exit polls showed it was well over half. Bearing Drift actually went so far as to say:

Cuccinelli’s anti-Sarvis strategy badly backfired. If he had been open to including Sarvis (who was polling anywhere from 8 to 13 percent in October) in the debates, as McAuliffe was, Cuccinelli could have provided an opportunity for Sarvis to highlight his progressive positions supporting gay marriage and legalizing marijuana, drawing even more votes from McAuliffe on Election Day.

The Federalist (which helped spread the smears of Sarvis for weeks) wrote quite clearly, in “No, Robert Sarvis Did Not Cost Ken Cuccinelli The Election,” that

On net, McAuliffe’s margin of victory would have increased by nearly 1.6 percent without Sarvis in the race.

Slate’s Dave Weigel agreed: “The most Cuccinelli-friendly, reality-based revote, if Sarvis was off the ballot, would have been a 52–48 McAuliffe win.”

So Sarvis actually made it a closer result last year!

What about this year? Well, first note that Warner is consistently beating Gillespie by 15 to 25%. It’s not even close. But not only that, Warner is over 50% in every single head-to-head poll against Gillespie! The only two polls that have Warner under 50% are polls that include Sarvis.

Big-government, cronyist/lobbyist “Establishment Ed” Gillespie is going to lose. And it’s not like there’s much difference between him and Warner anyway. Voting for either major-party candidate is a wasted vote.

Voting for Sarvis is the only way to make your vote count. Getting the Libertarian Party major-party status can change Virginia politics for the better. 50% of House of Delegate seats and 40% of State Senate seats generally go uncontested; you can see Libertarians in two-way races throughout Virginia. Competitive elections are a good thing!

 

The GOP claimed Robert Sarvis is a “phony” or “fake” Libertarian, a Libertarian-in-name-only (“LINO”).

FALSE – This set of claims actually proves how ignorant many GOP loyalists have become. The GOP doesn’t know what liberty or libertarianism IS, which is why they got it so comically wrong about Robert Sarvis.

Before getting to the substantive claims, let’s take a look at some of Robert Sarvis‘s libertarian bona fides:

  • In law school, Sarvis founded a libertarian and classical liberal law journal, the NYU Journal of Law & Liberty.
  • Sarvis has a Master’s degree in economics from George Mason University, known for its free-market, libertarian bent.
  • Sarvis spent almost two years as a graduate student fellow at the free-market-oriented Mercatus Center, where he co-authored papers with libertarians Jeff Miron, Todd Zywicki, and others.
  • Sarvis authored a paper for the free-market-oriented Competitive Enterprise Institute on public pension debt (which threatens state finances and is the fault of both Republicans and Democrats alike).
  • In 2011, running for State Senate as a (libertarian) Republican, Sarvis gave an interview in which he cited Adam Smith and Friedrich Hayek as his favorite economists and lambasted the cronyism of his Democrat opponent. He also stood before hundreds of Fairfax County Republicans and said the Republican Party in Virginia shared blame for cronyism.
  • In 2012, Sarvis was recruited by officers and members of the Libertarian Party of Virginia to run for Congress in Virginia’s Eighth district. The LPVA had been impressed with how libertarian Sarvis‘s 2011 Republican campaign for State Senate was. Sarvis, however, declined to run.
  • In 2013, Sarvis was again recruited by the LPVA, not to mention the current Executive Director of the (national) Libertarian Party, this time to run for Governor of Virginia.
  • This year, Sarvis again received the nomination from the Libertarian Party, a party known for its principled stands on the issues.

We could go on, but you can see how absurd the GOP claims are from the get-go. Let’s turn to the substantive claims:

 

The GOP claimed Robert Sarvis isn’t a true libertarian because he doesn’t believe in the “Austrian School” of economics.

FALSE – The GOP so clearly misunderstands libertarianism—and economics—that they apparently think there is but one economic school of thought that serves as the litmus test for being a libertarian.

But that is obviously wrong. Milton Friedman was not an Austrian but was clearly a libertarian. As Friedman said (paraphrasing) “There are no schools of economics, only good economics and bad economics.”

Read the Reason magazine interview that touched off the GOP self-embarrassment. Sarvis sounds decidedly libertarian throughout the interview.

Sarvis actually responded at length to an emailed question about his comments on Austrian economics. Find a link to the reply here.

Moreover, while GMU’s economics department is definitely libertarian, many of its libertarian professors are not Austrians—e.g., Tyler Cowen, Alex Tabarrok, Russ Roberts (now at the Hoover Institution), and many others.

This claim actually shows how ignorant the GOP is of both libertarianism and economics. Indeed, every single one of Sarvis‘s policy proposals and stances had the support of numerous libertarian economists and legal scholars.

The GOP claimed Robert Sarvis doesn’t oppose Obamacare and supported Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
FALSE – Robert Sarvis opposes government-run healthcare and overregulation of healthcare. That includes Obamacare but also includes a century of bad policies from both Republicans and Democrats. Obamacare is merely the latest incarnation of a fundamentally flawed approach to healthcare policy.

Robert Sarvis has actually studied healthcare economics and proposed numerous specific deregulatory reforms at the federal and state level that will increase competition, lower costs, and liberate healthcare providers and professionals. We can have affordable and accessible healthcare in every community throughout the United States.

Sarvis opposed Medicaid expansion because it would “lead inexorably to future state-level spending increases and tax increases and the crowding out of other spending priorities.” But he has also provided numerous solutions that can help make affordable healthcare available toall! Tellingly, the Virginia GOP’s legislators did not propose a single bill in the 0214 legislative session enacting any of Sarvis‘s myriad deregulatory proposals.)

Of course, Mark Warner voted for ObamaCare, but Ed Gillespie isn’t much better—he was a core advisor in the Bush administration, which expanded the fiscally unsustainable entitlement system to include a new, unfunded prescription drug benefit (at the time, the largest entitlement program created since LBJ). Gillespie also endorsed the individual mandate, and his economic plan tacitly admits he would leave most of ObamaCare in place.

 

The GOP claimed Robert Sarvis supported putting GPS/black-box devices in cars.

FALSE – Running for governor last year, Robert Sarvis advocated for intelligent transportation solutions supported by libertarian and conservative transportation economists—solutions like congestion pricing and user-pays financing to replace the existing tax burden.

A commentator at the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute wrote a lengthy blog post, “Memo to Road Socialists”, showing how ignorant the GOP’s claims about Sarvis were. The post concluded:

Robert Sarvis offered the most libertarian and sensible transportation platform this election (or any election I can recall).

The GOP shamelessly (and ignorantly) attacked the very libertarian and conservative idea that the users of roads should be the ones paying for them. Sarvis did not endorse any particular model of user-pays, but the GOP claimed that he supported government putting black boxes in your car. How did they make that seem even remotely plausible? They made it up! They falsely claimed that Sarvis endorsed a mileage tax, that such a tax could only be enacted via a GPS device, and that such a device would have to be owned by the state. Voila!

All of it was utter nonsense. To begin with, Sarvis never endorsed a mileage tax. He included it as one among several policy alternatives that fit under the “user-pays” rubric. Even if he had favored a mileage tax, a mileage tax does not require a GPS device. Even if such a device were used, it could be privately operated and managed. But all of that is irrelevant because Sarvis never endorsed a mileage tax and would certainly not support the government putting tracking devices in cars.

Indeed, in this year’s U.S. Senate race, Robert Sarvis is the only candidate arguing against government surveillance and in favor of civil liberties, Constitutional rights, and privacy. And it’s Mark Warner and Ed Gillespie who are supporting government surveillance, police militarization, and other instruments of intrusive government.

As a U.S. Senator, Robert Sarvis would support legislation devolving transportation funding back to the states.

The GOP claimed Robert Sarvis didn’t support cutting taxes, or even supported increasing them.

FALSE – Robert Sarvis had the most far-reaching tax-reform plan in the 2013 race and does again in the 2014 race for U.S. Senate. Sarvis is also the only candidate willing to engage in an intellectually honest discussion of tax policy.

GOP shills in the media wrote that Sarvis didn’t support tax cuts and even supported tax increases, despite the fact that Sarvis never said anything that would remotely support such a claim.

In fact, Sarvis proposed eliminating the income tax or vastly reducing it, eliminating local business taxes, replacing gas taxes with road-usage fees, eliminating tax deductions and credits that narrow the tax base, removing other preferential tax treatments for favored corporate interests, and more.

But you didn’t hear that from the GOP. Sarvis‘s sin was to speak the truth about GOP hypocrisy—that spending, not taxation, is what determines the size of government, and that it’s irresponsible to try to cut taxes without cutting spending, which is the GOP’s modus operandi. Sarvis‘s proposals, therefore, emphasized spending reforms that would enable tax cuts.

Sarvis‘s tax reform proposals were far superior and far more specific than anything offered by the major party candidates.

And they are again this year. But that’s not hard at all. Ed Gillespie is a big-spending Republican who shares responsibility for the Bush-era deficits that doubled the debt (from $5.5 trillion to $11 trillion)! And Mark Warner is a big-spending Democrat who voted for every spending increase as a U.S. Senator and wants to increase taxes once again). 

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Internet Troll Runs for President: The Sad, Strange Campaign of Austin Petersen

One of the things Libertarians pride themselves on is that our nomination is a competitive and open process. Literally anybody can run for President, so long as they’re constitutionally eligible and a member of the party.

The downside of that is…. well: anybody can run for President.

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 This means that alongside the serious contenders to be the nominee, as well as sincere message-candidates aiming to shape the debate, we usually have a parade of delusional vanity campaigns trying to weasel their way into 15 minutes in the spotlight.

Typically, these candidates are harmless eccentrics, easily ignored by most in the party. Some years, however, there’s a candidate who manages to stand out… and not in a good way….

APworst

For those lucky enough to not know, Austin Wade Petersen (“three E’s” – he is very particular about that) is a 35-year-old resident of Missouri and, as we’ve previously described him, a “semi-professional Internet troll.” He briefly worked at the LNC HQ for a year during the Bob Barr campaign, had an unsuccessful foray into film production, and currently prefers to describe himself as the “founder” of a clickbait site so infested with pop-up ads and malware I won’t even bother to link to it here.

Running on zero relevant experience, Mr. Petersen’s main campaign issue, if you could even call it that, has been picking a fight with the radicals in the party over his condemnation of the “non-aggression principle,” which he derides as “pacifist anarchism.” There is, granted, a more intelligent conversation to potentially be had about the role of the N.A.P. in the Libertarian Party, but he doesn’t offer it.

Even Ron Paul’s non-interventionist foreign policy has come under fire from him as “sound[ing] like he hates America” and “a Soviet apologist,” while he also promises that “the [LP] platform will change in 2016 with me at its head.”

Beyond any substantive issue positions (which he’s pretty skimpy on), Austin’s campaign is based on open emulation of Donald Trump’s tactics: lie, insult, smear, be outrageously childish, and then when people object, ride the wave of negative attention. Except that unlike Trump, Austin is neither rich nor famous nor raking in large amounts of free media coverage. Still, here’s a representative sampling of the things you’ll see this self-proclaimed presidential candidate saying on social media, where he spends almost all of his time:

“I don’t take crap from losers like you.”

“You tubby piece of sh*t, you couldn’t even approach 1/4 of the pyramid of pu**y that I swim in on a regular basis. It’s because I have class, motherf***er!”

“Suck it up, buttercup.”

“low testosterone, as evidenced by his spindly frame.”

“lol. neckbeard!”

“If I wanted your opinion I would ask for it. Otherwise cram it.”

And that’s what he has to say to voters and Libertarians and interviewers! When it comes to other candidates, Steve Kerbel is “sleaze”and “the lowest of the low,” while John McAfee is “a drug addict.”

The main target of his vitriol, of course, has been the presumptive nominee Gov. Gary Johnson, whom Austin has attacked as “a low-energy drug dealer.”  The Chair of the Libertarian National Committee has fared no better, with Petersen posting Nicholas Sarwark’s personal cell phone number and encouraging people to call and complain during dinner, because the party accurately reported that Austin lost his home state to “uncommitted” in the Missouri primary.
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Even Libertarian activists and volunteers like Colorado’s Caryn Ann Harlos- well-known in the party for her hot-pink hair- have been subject to organized harassment and bullying from Austin’s army of sock-puppet accounts and spammers. And that “low testosterone, spindly frame” comment above? That was said in reference to myself– who among other things got the Libertarian Party back on the ballot in my state– after which he sought to clarify at the Illinois L.P. convention that he wasn’t being homophobic, just an asshole. This was also after he commented on my personal FB page almost twenty times in a row with nothing but cartoon emojis.

On April 1st, appropriately enough, John Stossel will air a presidential forum among the “top-three” LP candidates, as measured by an easily-stuffed online poll. This was after Austin threw a very public screaming hissy fit, complete with knowing lies and willful slander, over the fact that Johnson did not cancel a planned debate at a state LP convention in order to have a non-televised debate moderated by Stossel at a conference. So, now, Austin has managed to get himself on T.V. as a presidential candidate the only way he can: by getting a real candidate to show up and treat him as the serious competitor he is not.

On April 1st, you’ll no doubt see a highly-polished and over-rehearsed Rubio-esque bit from Austin on FBN, and if he isn’t forced to go off-script he might even make a good impression. But that’s only because the real Austin Petersen, that members of the Libertarian Party have seen in action these past months, could never be aired on television. Not even on Fox.

Nominating this petulant man-child would be an utter disaster, but even promoting him as a serious contender for the party’s presidential nomination is doing the L.P. no favors. The sooner Austin ends this charade and goes home, the less damage he will have done to the party in a year when we have a historic opportunity to make an impact. If he genuinely cares about the future of the Libertarian Party, like he claims, he should end his campaign immediately, and start promoting our general election campaign that is already polling in double-digits against Trump and Clinton.

Update 1 Austin Petersen’s campaign manger responds:

shame111

Update 2 Andy, Joe, Jeff, and Jeffrey discuss this article on the latest ODLRN podcast:

 

ODLRN: Why We’re Endorsing Gary Johnson

Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Gary Johnson

2016 is shaping up to be a potential breakthrough year for the Libertarian Party, and there’s only one candidate who has the seriousness, credibility, and principles to lead the Libertarian ticket: the former Governor of New Mexico, and the most successful Libertarian presidential candidate in over thirty years: Gary Johnson.

As Johnson is the first to acknowledge, the Libertarian nomination process is open, competitive, and ongoing. So far we’ve had Steve Kerbel and Marc Allan Feldman on the show, and have found them both perfectly agreeable gentlemen. We’ve seen Austin Petersen and John McAfee bring a dash of controversy to the race.

None of them have given any indication that they could be, or are serious about trying to become, the next President of the United States. None of them have given any indication they could earn serious media coverage or vote totals for the Libertarian Party in 2016. Some of them say they intend to focus on building the party instead of doing those things. The more likely result, is that a campaign ostensibly focused on party-building instead of earning votes, will not do a very good job of either.  

We have also seen efforts from some quarters, to promote their preferred alternatives for the nomination, with grossly negative attacks and malicious smears and whisper campaigns. These attempts have been unpersuasive, and we don’t expect them to become any more persuasive with repetition.

When the delegates to the Libertarian National Convention gather in Orlando at the end of May, we will be presenting to the nation our choice for President of the United States. As a successful two-term Governor and entrepreneur, Johnson is not only qualified to be President, he’s better-qualified than what we usually get for the office. A self-made millionaire, experimental aircraft pilot, and world-class mountain climber and triathlete, he has a personal story to match his credentials.

On the issues and message, instead of preaching to the choir with obscure insider jargon, Johnson offers an outward-focused campaign that can sell libertarianism to the broad classically-liberal center of American politics. The vast unrepresented majority of fiscally conservative and socially liberal voters who have been disenfranchised by the two-party-only-system and are ripe to fuel the rise of a third major party.

Gary Johnson is the only candidate for 2016 who has demonstrated he can substantially improve our party’s vote totals, winning more votes than all other alternative candidates combined in 2012, and was the first nominee ever to win over a million votes. For the 2016 presidential nomination of America’s third-largest political party, there’s hardly a choice at all.

That’s why we here at the Old Dominion Libertarian Radio Network- Joe Enroughty, Jeff Kleb, Alex Butler, Jeffry Sanford, and Andy Craig- are unanimously endorsing Gov. Gary Johnson to be the 2016 Libertarian nominee for President of the United States.

How the Constitution could let the House stop both Clinton and Trump: 12th Amendment 2016?


The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. – U.S. Constitution, Amendment XII

 

There has been an increasing amount of discussion about a possible strong third-party or independent showing in 2016, whether from an independent Republican ticket put up in opposition to Trump, or from a Libertarian or independent campaign capitalizing on popular disgust with the frontrunners for the major-party nominations: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both of whom are unlikely to muster approval ratings higher than the low-mid 40s. 

This seems like a good opportunity to review one of the lesser-known provisions of that already too-obscure institution: the Electoral College. Under the 12th Amendment, in order to be elected President a candidate must secure an absolute majority (currently 270 votes) in the Electoral College. Thanks to a strange technicality in the way the amendment is written, as little as one Electoral Vote cast for a third-party candidate, could legally result in the House of Representatives electing that candidate President of the United States.

The way it works, is if no candidate receives a 270 vote majority. Then, the newly elected House will have to choose a President, in the brief window in January between when they take office (Jan 3) and Inauguration Day (Jan 20). In this election, they are limited to choosing from among the top three candidates in the Electoral College. Adding an additional wrinkle to the process: each state gets one vote, the only time the House of Representatives votes that way. The delegations from the 43 states having more than one Representative, must vote among themselves, to decide how to cast each state’s one vote. This effectively guarantees that the Republicans would control the outcome of any election thrown to the House, even if they are no longer the majority, because of their dominance in more, smaller states. 

The Vice President is elected separately by the Senate (voting as usual), however they are limited to the top two, not three, candidates in the Electoral College.

 

So, with that basic scheme in mind (see here for CGP Grey’s excellent video explanation): consider the following scenario plays out on Election Night 2016:


HouseEC



The Democratic nominee is Hillary Clinton. The Republican nominee is Donald Trump. The third candidate can be any number of possibilities: Jim Webb, Mike Bloomberg, Mark Cuban, Angus King, or an independent Republican ticket put up in opposition to Trump, such as Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. However, since it’s my personal preference, in this scenario we’ll posit that it is Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, as the Libertarian nominee. The same basic premise can be played out with any of them.

Clinton has 43% of the popular vote. Trump has 39% of the popular vote. Johnson, after being included in the debates on the calculation from both major-party candidates that he would hurt the other more, gets 16% of the popular vote. The remaining 2% scatters to other minor party candidates. (This is roughly similar to the popular vote breakdown from Clinton vs. Bush vs. Perot in 1992.)

However, the Electoral College tells a different story than 1992. Unlike Ross Perot, Johnson has won a narrow first-place plurality with approx. 34% in three smaller states: New Hampshire, Nevada, and New Mexico, totaling 15 Electoral Votes. The remaining states are near evenly divided: the Democrat ticket has 260 Electoral Votes and, despite being four points behind in the popular vote, the Republican ticket has 263 Electoral Votes.

Instantly, all eyes turn to the House of Representatives, and in particular its Republican members.

The House Republicans are now in a real dilemma. Most have refused to support or endorse Donald Trump’s disastrous campaign, which has continued in much the same manner as his primary campaign, and a small number had even openly endorsed Johnson in the final weeks.  Most of those who nominally endorsed Trump, only did so halfheartedly and insincerely. 

The Clinton campaign demands that the House confirm her, not along party lines, but because she received, by far, the most popular votes. The same percentage, they note, as Bill Clinton had received to be elected in 1992, though still well short of 50%.

The Trump campaign counters that the voters had returned a GOP-majority House (at least by state), and so the specified process in the Constitution implies that the Republican members of the House should elect their own party’s nominee. Additionally, they count that Trump was the first-place candidate in the Electoral College. 

House Republicans are in a catch-22. The vast majority consider Trump ideologically and more importantly, temperamentally, unfit to be President. Many of them have said so publicly. Furthermore, almost two-thirds of voters rejected him, and he lost the popular vote by a wide margin. The idea of a Trump presidency, particularly under these circumstances, with every Republican in Congress to blame, is seen as a nightmare scenario among GOP establishment circles.

On the other hand, few Republican Congressmen can go home to their districts and face a primary, having voted to install Hillary Clinton as President. The massacre in the 2018 mid-term primary elections would be historic, and they know it. They are caught between losing their seats in primaries, or losing their majority in the general election, to voter backlash in favor of the spurned Democrats. 

In this scenario, Johnson presents a strongly appealing and compelling dark-horse option. A former Republican Governor with experience in office, and a smaller-government free-market platform, he is much more acceptable to many in Washington than dangerous lunatic Donald Trump. But he also has an appeal and acceptability to the left and center that Trump utterly lacks. The same is likely true of Jim Webb, and possibly Michael Bloomberg. 

Facing deadlock and no good options in picking either Clinton or Trump,  the House Republicans make an offer: the House will elect the third-party candidate President, and the Senate (still in GOP hands), will elect the Republican nominee for Vice-President. (This is made easier, since the third-place candidate for Vice President is not eligible to be elected by the Senate).  This could be Ted Cruz, for example, or another relatively acceptable GOP Governor or Senator placed on the ticket in a failed bid to keep the GOP unified behind Trump. (Alternately, if the Democrats have retaken the Senate, they could independently elect their party’s nominee for Vice President.)

So on December 30, 2016, a press conference is called in the Capitol Rotunda. Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announce that both of their incoming caucuses had just voted in a special closed-door session, to elect a Libertarian President and a Republican Vice-President. A unity ticket among candidates who, between them, received a majority of both the popular vote and the electoral college. After being sworn in on January 3, the new Congress does exactly that. 

And that’s how, if the stars align just right, this obscure provision of the Constitution could allow members of Congress to, in effect, veto both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and elevate a third-place runner-up to the Oval Office instead. 

Far fetched? Absolutely. Impossible? I don’t think so. Unprecedented? Not quite. In 1824, a very similar scenario played out among John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, and Henry Clay. Jackson, seen as unfit despite being the clear popular vote winner, was passed over in favor of popular runner-up Adams, thanks in part to a deal with 4th place candidate and Speaker of the House Henry Clay to appoint him as Secretary of State. 

This is not an entirely new idea, either. Throwing an election to the House has long been the goal of third-party Presidential campaigns, most famously those in 1948 and 1968 that swept the Deep South. It is a consideration that should figure heavily into any campaign strategy for a strong third-party presidential campaign.

Andy Craig Releases First Campaign Ad

Andy Craig

Andy Craig

U.S. Congressional candidate Andy Craig of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has released his first campaign ad in the 2016 race which will pit him against incumbent Democrat Gwen Moore.

Craig, who recently celebrated his 25th birthday and is now constitutionally eligible to run for Congress, is chair of the Milwaukee Libertarian Party, Secretary of the Libertarian Party of Wisconsin, and a co-host of the popular internet radio program “The Old Dominion Libertarian Radio Network.”  He ran for Wisconsin Secretary Of State in 2014 receiving about 60,000 votes.

The campaign ad, which is titled: “Stop Over Criminalization,” can be seen below.

Posted by Andy Craig for Congress on Friday, December 11, 2015

 

If You’re A Veteran, The Dave Brat Campaign Says It Doesn’t Want Your Vote

U.S. Air Force Veteran, Hugh Traulsen.

U.S. Air Force Veteran, Hugh Traulsen.

Hugh Traulsen is a 70 year old veteran who served Stateside in the U.S. Air Force during the Vietnam War.  He trained many enlisted men during that time.

Recently, Traulsen contacted the Dave Brat Campaign to see if Mr. Brat would “witness” his absentee ballot as he filled it out and voted for Dave Brat.  He left a message with the Brat campaign.  This was not the first time he had attempted to contact the Brat Campaign concerning this matter.  Weeks before, he had attempted contact, with his phone calls going unanswered.

A few days after his last phone call, Brat Campaign Communications Director Brian Gottstein, called back to state that Mr. Brat did not care to witness Mr. Traulsen filling out his absentee ballot.  Gottstein’s stated reason for not being interested was that Mr. Traulsen had also contacted the Jack Trammell Campaign (Traulsen had contacted the Trammell Campaign when his initial phone calls to Brat went unanswered).  When Mr. Traulsen tried to explain further, Gottstein immediately hung up the phone with Traulsen in mid sentence.  For the record, Trammell’s campaign never even responded once.

We get it, Mr. Gottstein.  You don’t give a damn about our veterans.  Your response will most likely be that you had no idea Mr. Traulsen was a veteran (even though he told you that he was a verteran).  So, does that mean it’s OK to slam the phone down on a 7th District constituent as long as they are not a veteran???

The question isn’t what should we do about Gottstein.  He is really inconsequential.  The question is: What will Dave Bratt do about Mr. Gottstein?  Will he have the balls to stand up to Gottstein and tell him that his actions are ruining his (Brat’s) chances of winning the election and then apologize to Mr. Traulsen and the other veterans that his campaign has offended?  Or will he continue to allow his campaign to be represented by someone who it seems has contempt for most people in the 7th District?  Just remember.  Gottstein gets paid whether Dave Brat wins or loses.  So the outcome does not matter to him.

The Dave Brat we saw before the Republican Primary ended is not the same Dave Brat we are seeing now.  If you don’t believe me, just read this note posted on Facebook by an 18 year old 7th District constituent, who will be voting for the first time on November 4th.

If Dave Brat will allow one of his campaign staffers to treat an Air Force veteran in such a despicable manner, how can we expect Dave Brat to go to Washington, D.C. and fight for reforms within the Veteran’s Administration?

James Carr "Witnesses" Hugh Traulsen's Absentee Ballot.

James Carr “Witnesses” Hugh Traulsen’s Absentee Ballot.

The only candidate running for Congress in the 7th District that was willing to meet with Mr. Traulsen was Libertarian James Carr.  After talking with Carr about his platform, Traulsen was impressed to the point that he decided to vote for Carr.  James Carr “witnessed” Traulsen filling out his absentee ballot.

Maybe voters in the 7th District should hang up the phone on Dave Brat and go cast their votes for James Carr.  Sounds like a solid plan to me.

Another “Empty Chair” As Dave Brat Dodges 7th District Voters Once Again

At the 7th District Candidate Debate in New Kent, Virginia on October 14th, there was an empty chair on stage.  Why?  Because Republican Congressional Candidate Dave Brat chose not to show up.  The Debate organizer had two confirmations from the Brat Campaign that he would be there.  Confirmations that Brat Campaign spokesman Brian Gottstein said did not exist.  (Gottstein has yet to address the fact that he lied about the campaign not agreeing to be at the debate.)

Dave Brat's Empty Chair

At The Crusade For Voters Candidate Forum, we seem to be seeing a pattern.

At the Candidate Forum held at Virginia Union University and hosted by the Richmond Crusade For Voters on October 19th, there was another empty chair.  Dave Brat chose not to show up again.  Forum organizers were unsure if Dave Brat was coming, or if he was going to send a spokesperson like the Warner and Gillespie Campaigns did.  Apparently Dave Brat chose to do neither, and chose not to inform anyone of his choice.  Debate organizers waited for him to appear and when it was finally clear he was not going to show, they proceeded with the event, leaving his empty chair and nameplate in plain view of the attendees.  And of course Brian Gottstein will come up with an array of excuses.  “Dave Brat had a hang nail.”  “The Sun wasn’t bright enough.”  “Keeping Up With The Kardashian’s was having a special on at that time and Dave couldn’t miss it.”  That’s about how stupid his other excuses have been.  You could point out that Dave should have invested in a DVR, but then Brian Gottstein would just stomp his feet and blame the other candidates for Dave’s failure to plan ahead when it comes to the Kardashians.

James Carr

7th District Libertarian Candidate James Carr.

Libertarian Congressional Candidate James Carr attended the event as did Libertarian Senate Candidate Robert Sarvis.  James Carr is one of Dave Brat’s opponents.  His other opponent, Democrat Jack Trammell, sent his campaign manager to speak on his behalf.

James was there because he truly cares about the voters of the 7th District and he has absolutely nothing to hide.

Many Dave Brat supporters will argue that Dave’s hands are tied.  That his campaign has been hijacked by backroom dealing, Washington Insiders like Brian Gottstein, and that there is nothing he can do about it.

But there IS something he can do.  He could grow a pair and send those Washington Insiders back to D.C. and get back to the type of campaign he was running during the primaries against Eric Cantor.

At the Term Limits Summit in Richmond on Wednesday, October 8th, Dave Brat told Fletcher Voelcker, a 7th District resident, that his campaign staff had not changed since he’d won the nomination back in June.  He made it clear that his campaign staff was the same now as it had been before the primary.

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!!!  The Republican Primary in the 7th District of Virginia was held on June 10th, 2014.  Brian Gottstein was hired by the Dave Brat Campaign after the primary was held.

And let us not forget Dave Brat’s campaign manager during the primary, Zachary Werrell.  He is no longer with the campaign.  Two people have filled that roll since the primary ended and Werrell left the campaign.  One more lie in Dave Brat’s corner.

Is this the kind of man you want to send to Washington, D.C. to represent you?  A man who would blatantly lie to a voter’s face?  I think not.  Did Brian Gottstein hold a gun to Dave Brat’s head and force him to be dishonest?  Nope.  Dave Brat made this decision on his own.  But Gottstein would probably try and blame the other candidates saying they caused Dave Brat to be dishonest, if this issue were ever brought up publicly.

Brat’s campaign is losing supporters every day because of Brian Gottstein and the rest of the Washington Insiders that have been hired. 10 people – and these are just people I know personally – have stopped supporting Dave Brat and are now supporting James Carr.  At first they were merely looking at the other options because they had grown extremely disappointed with Dave Brat since he won the primary.  But after reviewing James Carr’s positions and listening to him speak, they realized that he was indeed the better candidate for the job.  Just think about it.  These are 10 people that I know.  And there are many more across the 7th District that I don’t know, who are jumping the Dave Brat ship on a daily basis.

Bob Shannon, founder and past president of The Mechanicsville TEA Party, has grown increasingly weary of Dave Brat since the primary.  He is not in the slightest way happy with the direction Dave Brat has decided to go and has voiced his opinion on the matter.  Bob Shannon was instrumental in convincing Dave Brat to run for office.  Now he’s extremely disappointed.

Some are asking if Brian Gottstein is aware that he is hurting the Brat Campaign.  Let’s be clear.  Brian Gottstein does not care if Dave Brat wins or loses.  He will get paid either way.  And regardless of the outcome, he will slither back to that backroom deal in Washington, D.C. whence he came, when it’s all said and done.  Calling Brian Gottstein an opportunist would be the understatement of the new millennium.

Brian Gottstein has claimed that he is a libertarian.  He made the claim in the comments section of this article on Va. Right!  There’s just one problem with that statement.  A real libertarian would not work for or vote for a theocrat.  And that is exactly what Dave Brat is.  In the same comments linked above, Gottstein accuses James Carr of lying when James had irrefutable evidence from debate organizers and sponsors, that Dave Bratt was dodging debates that included Carr.

Another thing Brian Gottstein seems to be good at.  Always blaming someone else for the Brat Campaign’s missteps (as you can see in his comments at the web site above).  Doesn’t this remind you of someone who occasionally resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, when he’s not off playing golf somewhere else???

Dave Brat doesn’t want to face James Carr in a debate because he knows his platform cannot stand public scrutiny.  He also knows James can talk circles around him when it comes to healthcare and economics.  Brian Gottstein knows this as well.  And that’s fine.  The longer Dave Brat hides, the more voters there will be who will be casting their votes for James Carr.

Dave Brat rode the “anyone but Cantor” wave for as long as he could.  And now that Eric Cantor is no longer in the picture, there’s just no reason to vote for Dave Brat.