Do Libertarians Cost Republicans Elections?

The 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial election had the makings of a watershed election.  Although third-party or independent candidates often run for the highest office in the Commonwealth, with the exception of 2009 which featured only a Republican and a Democrat, they typically have a minimal impact.  Running through the list from the last twenty years, in 2017, the Libertarian candidate won 1.1% of the vote.  In 2005, a former Republican State Senator left his party and ran as an independent garnering 2.2% of the statewide vote.  In 2001, the Libertarian won .8% and in 1997, the Reform Party candidate picked up 1.5%.  In addition, in all of these other elections the winning candidate received over 50% of the vote so that no one could effectively argue that these third-party or independent candidates impacted the final result.[1]  But 2013 was an unusual affair in Virginia politics.

Although Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate, had enjoyed a lead over his opponent earlier in the year, by mid-July Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate, dominated the polls.  In addition, about a week before the November 5th contest, multiple polls had Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate, at or above 10%.[2]  He achieved this result despite being excluded from every debate.[3]  Ten percent is a particularly important threshold for if a third-party candidate were to win at least 10% of the vote in a statewide contest, then the state would recognize his or her political party.  This result, in turn, would permit that political party to hold primaries at the expense of the taxpayers and would allow future candidates from that party to receive ballot access without going through the signature collection process.[4]  As a result of Sarvis’ apparent success, coupled with Cuccinelli’s falling numbers, some Republicans began to blame Libertarians for a potential loss in November.[5]  However, the simple fact was that some libertarian voters preferred the Libertarian option to the Republican.  “The 37-year-old former lawyer is proving particularly attractive to a bloc of right-leaning independents uneasy with Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s strident opposition to abortion and gay marriage.”[6]

Even though Sarvis ultimately fell short of the 10% threshold, he captured 6.6% of the vote, the highest percentage for a third-party gubernatorial candidate in the south for over forty years.[7]  In addition, his vote total of about 145,000 votes was greater than 56,000, the margin that separated the Republican and Democratic candidates.[8]  Were the claims of some Republicans correct?  Did Robert Sarvis cost the Republicans a victory in the 2013 Virginia gubernatorial election?  If he weren’t on the ballot would a sufficient number of his voters still cast their ballots for the Republican candidate to ensure Cuccinelli’s triumph?

As another example of a Libertarian candidate potentially costing Republicans a win, in the 2019 Kentucky gubernatorial election the Democratic candidate defeated the Republican incumbent by a margin of about 5,000 votes.  The Libertarian candidate picked up over 28,000 votes.[9]  After this election, the Libertarian Party claimed that they had indeed snatched victory from the Republicans.  “We are always happy to split the vote in a way that causes delicious tears.  Tonight there are plenty of tears from Bevin supporters.”[10]

But in the absence of Libertarian candidates, would most Libertarian voters cast a ballot for the Republican option?  Do Libertarian candidates take a larger percentage of what would otherwise be Republican votes?  To answer these questions, we first have to understand what ideology drives libertarians.  According to a 2012 psychology study, Libertarianism was not widely studied prior to that time.  Furthermore, as compared to liberals and conservatives, libertarians have a “stronger endorsement of individual liberty as their foremost guiding principle, and weaker endorsement of all other moral principles.”[11]  Along these same lines, libertarian ideology “rejects the idea, essential to liberalism, that political power is a public power, to be impartially exercised for the common good.”[12]

But libertarians have voted Republican in the past, often in overwhelming numbers.  For example, in the 2000 U.S. Presidential elections libertarians preferred George W. Bush over Al Gore by a margin of 72% to 20%.  However, as the Bush presidency continued policies which resulted in ballooning federal deficits, the curtailing of civil liberties, along with the expansion of government power, positions which libertarians by-in-large oppose, libertarian support for the Republican Party waned considerably.[13]  After the Bush Presidency ended, libertarians once again largely shifted into the Republican column “supporting John McCain over Barack Obama by 71 to 27 percent.”[14]  However, the Libertarian Party has been active during this time, running candidates for president in every election since 1972.  In the two aforementioned elections, it would be difficult or impossible to claim that the presence of a Libertarian candidate cost the Republican Party the election given that the Republican candidate won the election in 2000; in 2008 the Libertarian candidate won a little over half a million votes or .4% of the nationwide vote, while the Republican and Democratic candidates were separated by a margin of about 9.5 million votes.[15]  Clearly then one cannot argue that the mere presence of a Libertarian candidate spells automatic doom for the Republicans.

Even though there is scant research done on the supposed Libertarian spoiler effect, others have asked similar questions.  For example, what about candidates from other political parties in the United States?  The 1992 Presidential election was a particularly historic election where the independent Ross Perot won 18.91% of the vote, the best showing for a third-party or independent candidate in terms of overall vote total since the election of 1912.[16]  Given that Perot’s percentage of the vote was greater than the disparity between the totals of the Republican and Democratic candidates, it comes as no surprise that some Bush supporters lamented that Perot had cost them the election.[17] [18]  However, later research shows that rather than denying Bush reelection, Perot’s candidacy had the opposite effect, drawing more votes from Clinton than Bush.  In addition, many of Perot’s voters went to the polls specifically to vote for Perot; about 20% of Perot voters would not have cast a ballot if Perot were not listed as a choice, thus his candidacy substantially increased turnout.[19]

Perhaps the most widely considered spoiler in the modern era was the candidacy of Ralph Nader under the banner of the Green Party in the 2000 presidential election.  The election came down to Florida where Bush defeated Gore by a margin of about 500 votes.[20]  Although some research argues that Gore actually won the state due to the improper rejection of 50,000 overvotes, most of which would have supposedly gone to Gore[21], others point to Nader’s nearly 100,000 votes, most of which, they assert, would have gone to Gore had Nader not been on the ballot.[22]  One study claims that about 60% of the Nader voters who would have turned out even if their preferred candidate weren’t on the ballot would have voted for Gore thus handing him the presidency.[23]  In that same election, the Libertarian candidate won 16,415 votes in Florida.  If Gore had won the Sunshine State and the Electoral College, would angry Republicans have pointed to Libertarians as spoilers? 

Another aspect to consider is the idea that the two-major party candidates in essence steal votes from a third-party candidate and not the other way around.  If a voter were to cast his or her vote sincerely, then he or she would select the candidate who most aligns with his or her values.  However, given the nature of the first-past-the-post electoral system, where any vote that goes to a losing candidate is, according to some, wasted, then voters will cast their votes strategically instead, choosing between the lesser of two evils.[24]

Returning to the idea of third-party candidates in gubernatorial contests, the 1998 Minnesota Governor election featured three candidates, a Republican, a Democrat, and the Reform Party’s Jesse Ventura.  Although Ventura won the election, researchers have determined that if he were not in the race then the Republican candidate would have been elected.  Ventura was the Condorcet winner and the Democratic candidate was the Condorcet loser.  It is estimated that approximately 7% of voters would not have cast a ballot were Ventura not an option.[25] Although one could make a rather tepid argument that Ventura “stole” the election, doing so would also require one to make the claim that no one other than Republicans and Democrats ought to be allowed to run for office, an undemocratic notion antithetical to the idea of liberty which undermines the principle of the right to self-determination.

Third-party candidates can make an impact in politics outside of running for office through the mere threat of their candidacy.  Lee shows that

while two-party politics is essentially one-dimensional in that a dominant cleavage defines political conflict, third parties are often concerned with issues that are ignored by the major parties…US House members from districts under high third-party threat vote beyond the dominant dimension of major-party conflict, which is an attempt preemptively to co-opt potential third-party supporters.[26]

In addition, we do have data from third parties in other western democracies.  For example, there is the typically largest third party in the UK since the 1922 election, the Liberal Democrats, formally known as the Liberals.  Running for office has the effect of promoting policies which Liberal Democratic voters oppose.  “By contesting elections they motivate the major parties to present more extreme policies” and “by presenting its sincere center-left beliefs, the Liberal Democrats enable the Conservatives to present more extreme positions than they would present if the Liberal Democrats positioned themselves strategically.”[27]  However, these findings may not translate particularly well to the case of American Libertarians given that the party has not yet successfully elected a candidate to Congress.

Later political scientists have found other effects for third-party voters when exploring ballots cast for the New Democratic Party in Canada.  “The share of the vote received by the NDP is not only governed by the individual characteristics of voters, but also by the competitive position of the party in each constituency.”[28]  The party is “a safe repository for the sophisticated vote of dissatisfaction.”[29] But, as is the case with the Liberal Democrats in the UK, although both electoral systems consist of districts which are single-member pluralities, like the United States, both of these parties have won and continue to win seats in the national legislature.  The Libertarians in the United States haven’t won an election at the federal level though this disparity could be, in part, a result of a presidential system as opposed to a parliamentary one, or, as mentioned in my previous work, due to particularly repressive ballot access laws in the United States.

Although some politicos may argue that voting for a third-party candidate in a two-party system is essentially an irrational action, tantamount to throwing one’s vote away or that doing so results in the election of the greater of two evils as Lee (2013) suggests, Anthony Downs identifies two conditions under which voting for a third-party candidate makes sense.

A voter may support a party that today is hopeless in the belief that his support will enable it to grow and someday become a likely winner-thus giving him a wider range of selection in the future.  Also, he may temporarily support a hopeless party as a warning to some other party to change its platform if it wants his support.  Both actions are rational for people who prefer better choice-alternatives in the future to present participation in the selection of government.[30]

Returning to Republicans and Libertarians in the United States, perhaps surprisingly, some Republicans don’t like the idea of Libertarians supporting their party as they are concerned that this ideology will transform the Republican Party.  As Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) stated in 2012 while facing a libertarian challenger for the Republican nomination, “These people are not conservatives.  They’re not Republicans.  They’re radical libertarians and I’m doggone offended by it.  I despise these people.”[31]

So, what should libertarians do?  Should they support a Republican Party which is often hostile to their ideology or cast their ballots for Libertarian candidates who are unlikely to win, potentially “spoiling” elections for Republicans?  David Boaz, the executive vice-president of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, argues that given present policy trends neither of the two major political parties is a particularly welcoming home for libertarian-minded voters unless they make a concerted effort to change.

Libertarians have yet to find a comfortable home among political parties, particularly younger libertarians. Given the anti-competitive restrictions on third parties imposed by campaign finance and ballot access laws, the two-party system is likely to survive for the foreseeable future. However, if Republicans embrace the libertarian roots of the party, they stand to gain favor among these independent-minded voters. And if Democrats move toward drug policy reform, marriage equality, withdrawal from Iraq, and fiscal responsibility, they also stand to gain. As long as neither major party is committed to liberty and limited government, libertarians will likely continue to be only weakly affiliated with either party.[32]

If the above logic is correct, then neither the Republican nor the Democratic Party ought to consider themselves the rightful owner of libertarians’ votes; they ought to refrain from calling Libertarian candidates spoilers when their candidate loses by a margin smaller than the number of voters the Libertarian candidate earns.  Nevertheless, it is an idea that needs further empirical exploration.

Resources

“2013 – Virginia Gov: Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe vs. Sarvis.” RealClearPolitics. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2013/governor/va/virginia_governor_cuccinelli_vs_mcauliffe_vs_sarvis-4111.html (November 30, 2019).

Adams, James, and Samuel Merrill. 2006. “Why Small, Centrist Third Parties Motivate Policy Divergence by Major Parties.” American Political Science Review 100(3): 403–17.

Berkes, Howard. 2012. “GOP-on-GOP Attacks Leave Orrin Hatch Fighting Mad,”

National Public Radio, April 12, 2012, http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsall politics/2012/04/12/150506733/tea-party-againtargets-a-utah-gop-senator-and-orrin-hatch-isfighting-mad.

Boaz, David, and David Kirby. 2006. “The Libertarian Vote.” SSRN Electronic Journal: 1–28.

Boaz, David, and David Kirby. 2010. “The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama.” SSRN Electronic Journal: 1–19.

Bowler, S., and D. J. Lanoue. 1992. “Strategic and Protest Voting for Third Parties: the Case of the Canadian NDP.” Political Research Quarterly 45(2): 485–99.

Collins, Eliza. 2019. “Did Perot Spoil 1992 Election for Bush? It’s Complicated.” The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/did-perot-spoil-1992-election-for-bush-its-complicated-11562714375 (December 3, 2019).

Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York, NY: Harper & Row.

Federal Election Commission. 2001. 2000 Presidential General Election Results. https://transition.fec.gov/pubrec/2000presgeresults.htm (December 4, 2019).

FEDERAL ELECTIONS 2008 Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. 2009. Washington D.C.

Freeman, Samuel. 2001. “Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism Is Not a Liberal View.” Philosophy Public Affairs 30(2): 105–51.

Gilens, Martin, and Benjamin I. Page. 2014. “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens.” Perspectives on Politics 12(3): 564–81.

Hamby, Peter. 2013. “Libertarian Threatens to Spoil GOP Hopes in Virginia – CNNPolitics.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2013/09/27/politics/virginia-governor-sarvis-spoiler/index.html (December 4, 2019).

Herron, Michael C., and Jeffery B. Lewis. 2006. “Did Ralph Nader Spoil a Gore Presidency? A Ballot-Level Study of Green and Reform Party Voters in the 2000 Presidential Election.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2(3): 205–26.

Hohmann, James. 2013. “3rd Candidate Could Cost Cuccinelli.” POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/virginia-governor-race-robert-sarvis-ken-cuccinelli-097591 (November 30, 2019).

Hohmann, James. 2013. “Libertarian Excluded from Va. Debate.” POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/virginia-governor-debate-robert-sarvis-libertarian-098161 (November 30, 2019).

Iyer, Ravi et al. 2012. “Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians.” PLoS ONE 7(8): 1–23.

Jacobs, Ben. 2013. “Libertarian Robert Sarvis Drew Record High Votes in Virginia.” The Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/libertarian-robert-sarvis-drew-record-high-votes-in-virginia (November 30, 2019).

Lacy, Dean, and Barry C. Burden. 1999. “The Vote-Stealing and Turnout Effects of Ross Perot in the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election.” American Journal of Political Science 43(1): 233–55.

Lacy, Dean, and Quin Monson. 2002. “The Origins and Impact of Votes for Third-Party Candidates: A Case Study of the 1998 Minnesota Gubernatorial Election.” Political Research Quarterly 55(2): 409–37.

Lee, Daniel J. 2013. “Third-Party Threat and the Dimensionality of Major-Party Roll Call Voting.” Public Choice 159(3-4): 515–31.

Leip, David. 1992 Presidential General Election Results. https://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1992&f=0&off=0&elect=0 (December 3, 2019).

Mebane, Walter R. 2004. “The Wrong Man Is President! Overvotes in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida.” Perspectives on Politics 2(03): 525–35.

“Ross Perot: Election Spoiler or Message Shaper?” 2019. Miller Center. https://millercenter.org/ross-perot-election-spoiler-or-message-shaper (December 3, 2019).

Rotemberg, Julio. 2009. “Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting.” Public Choice: 223–44.

Scher, Bill. 2016. “Nader Elected Bush: Why We Shouldn’t Forget.” RealClearPolitics. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/05/31/nader_elected_bush_why_we_shouldnt_forget_130715.html (December 4, 2019).

Staff, WKYT News. 2019. “Libertarian Party Says It’s Happy to Cause ‘Delicious Tears from Bevin Supporters’.” WKYT. https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Libertarian-Party-happy-to-cause-delicious-tears-from-Bevin-supporters-564541541.html (November 30, 2019).

The New York Times. 2019. “2019 Kentucky Governor General Election Results.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/05/us/elections/results-kentucky-governor-general-election.html (November 30, 2019).

“Title 24.2. Elections.” § 24.2-101. Definitions. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter1/section24.2-101/ (November 30, 2019).

“Virginia Elections Database ” Search Elections.” Virginia Elections Database. https://historical.elections.virginia.gov/elections/search/year_from:1997/year_to:2017/office_id:3/stage:General (November 30, 2019).

“Virginia Governor – 2013 Election Results.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/projects/elections/2013/general/virginia/map.html (November 30, 2019).


[1] “Virginia Elections Database ” Search Elections.” Virginia Elections Database. https://historical.elections.virginia.gov/elections/search/year_from:1997/year_to:2017/office_id:3/stage:General (November 30, 2019).

[2] “2013 – Virginia Gov: Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe vs. Sarvis.” RealClearPolitics. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/2013/governor/va/virginia_governor_cuccinelli_vs_mcauliffe_vs_sarvis-4111.html (November 30, 2019).

[3] Hohmann, James. 2013. “Libertarian Excluded from Va. Debate.” POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/virginia-governor-debate-robert-sarvis-libertarian-098161 (November 30, 2019).

[4] “Title 24.2. Elections.” § 24.2-101. Definitions. https://law.lis.virginia.gov/vacode/title24.2/chapter1/section24.2-101/ (November 30, 2019).

[5] Hamby, Peter. 2013. “Libertarian Threatens to Spoil GOP Hopes in Virginia – CNNPolitics.” CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2013/09/27/politics/virginia-governor-sarvis-spoiler/index.html (December 4, 2019).

[6] Hohmann, James. 2013. “3rd Candidate Could Cost Cuccinelli.” POLITICO. https://www.politico.com/story/2013/10/virginia-governor-race-robert-sarvis-ken-cuccinelli-097591 (November 30, 2019).

[7] Jacobs, Ben. 2013. “Libertarian Robert Sarvis Drew Record High Votes in Virginia.” The Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/libertarian-robert-sarvis-drew-record-high-votes-in-virginia (November 30, 2019).

[8] “Virginia Governor – 2013 Election Results.” The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/projects/elections/2013/general/virginia/map.html (November 30, 2019).

[9] The New York Times. 2019. “2019 Kentucky Governor General Election Results.” The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2019/11/05/us/elections/results-kentucky-governor-general-election.html (November 30, 2019).

[10] Staff, WKYT News. 2019. “Libertarian Party Says It’s Happy to Cause ‘Delicious Tears from Bevin Supporters’.” WKYT. https://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Libertarian-Party-happy-to-cause-delicious-tears-from-Bevin-supporters-564541541.html (November 30, 2019).

[11] Iyer, Ravi et al. 2012. “Understanding Libertarian Morality: The Psychological Dispositions of Self-Identified Libertarians.” PLoS ONE 7(8): 1.

[12] Freeman, Samuel. 2001. “Illiberal Libertarians: Why Libertarianism Is Not a Liberal View.” Philosophy Public Affairs 30(2): 107.

[13] Boaz, David, and David Kirby. 2006. “The Libertarian Vote.” SSRN Electronic Journal: 1–28.

[14] Boaz, David, and David Kirby. 2010. “The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama.” SSRN Electronic Journal: 1.

[15] FEDERAL ELECTIONS 2008 Election Results for the U.S. President, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. 2009. Washington D.C. 5.

[16] Leip, David. 1992 Presidential General Election Results. https://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/national.php?year=1992&f=0&off=0&elect=0 (December 3, 2019).

[17] Collins, Eliza. 2019. “Did Perot Spoil 1992 Election for Bush? It’s Complicated.” The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/did-perot-spoil-1992-election-for-bush-its-complicated-11562714375 (December 3, 2019).

[18] “Ross Perot: Election Spoiler or Message Shaper?” 2019. Miller Center. https://millercenter.org/ross-perot-election-spoiler-or-message-shaper (December 3, 2019).

[19] Lacy, Dean, and Barry C. Burden. 1999. “The Vote-Stealing and Turnout Effects of Ross Perot in the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election.” American Journal of Political Science 43(1): 233–55.

[20] Federal Election Commission. 2001. 2000 Presidential General Election Results. https://transition.fec.gov/pubrec/2000presgeresults.htm (December 4, 2019).

[21] Mebane, Walter R. 2004. “The Wrong Man Is President! Overvotes in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida.” Perspectives on Politics 2(03): 525–35.

[22] Scher, Bill. 2016. “Nader Elected Bush: Why We Shouldn’t Forget.” RealClearPolitics. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2016/05/31/nader_elected_bush_why_we_shouldnt_forget_130715.html (December 4, 2019).

[23] Herron, Michael C., and Jeffery B. Lewis. 2006. “Did Ralph Nader Spoil a Gore

Presidency? A Ballot-Level Study of Green and Reform Party Voters in the 2000 Presidential Election.” Quarterly Journal of Political Science 2(3): 205–26.

[24] Rotemberg, Julio. 2009. “Attitude-Dependent Altruism, Turnout and Voting.” Public Choice: 223–44.

[25] Lacy, Dean, and Quin Monson. 2002. “The Origins and Impact of Votes for Third-Party Candidates: A Case Study of the 1998 Minnesota Gubernatorial Election.” Political Research Quarterly 55(2): 409–37.

[26] Lee, Daniel J. 2013. “Third-Party Threat and the Dimensionality of Major-Party Roll Call Voting.” Public Choice 159(3-4): 529.

[27] Adams, James, and Samuel Merrill. 2006. “Why Small, Centrist Third Parties Motivate Policy Divergence by Major Parties.” American Political Science Review 100(3): 403–17.

[28] Bowler, S., and D. J. Lanoue. 1992. “Strategic and Protest Voting for Third Parties: the Case of the Canadian Ndp.” Political Research Quarterly 45(2): 497.

[29] Ibid. 498.

[30] Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York, NY: Harper & Row. 49.

[31] Berkes, Howard. 2012. “GOP-on-GOP Attacks Leave Orrin Hatch Fighting Mad,” National Public Radio, April 12, 2012, http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsall politics/2012/04/12/150506733/tea-party-againtargets-a-utah-gop-senator-and-orrin-hatch-isfighting-mad.

[32] Boaz, David, and David Kirby. 2010. “The Libertarian Vote in the Age of Obama.” SSRN Electronic Journal: 19.

The Equality of Opportunity Myth

Growing up, I was often told that Republicans believed in the idea of equality of opportunity, that everyone, regardless of his or her beliefs, ethnicity, or circumstances ought to have the same chance for opportunity and success.  Unlike the socialists, who I was told promote equality of results, Republicans desire a fair and level playing field.

I first began to question Republican support for equality of opportunity during the 2013 general elections in Virginia.  During that election, we had three choices for governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis. In case you didn’t know, making the ballot in Virginia isn’t an easy task.  Two of the three candidates for governor had to collect the signatures of 10,000 registered voters across the state.  Terry McAuliffe needed to do so to be in the Democratic primary and Robert Sarvis needed to do so in order to make the general election ballot.  However, Ken Cuccinelli didn’t need to meet this signature requirement because he was nominated in the Republican convention.

Even though we had three candidates on the ballot for governor, as the election went on the debate organizers consistently excluded  Robert Sarvis.  Whether you liked Sarvis or not, given the efforts he had to make, he had as much a right to be on the debate stage as McAuliffe and Cuccinelli did.  If one believed in liberty and equality of opportunity, then he or she would fight to allow all voices to be heard, not merely the candidate he or she preferred.  Clearly, Ken Cuccinelli would agree, right?

Well, in October of 2013 I had the opportunity to find out in person as Ken Cuccinelli invited a handful of activists, including myself, to speak with him in Lynchburg.  I should add that at this time I liked Ken Cuccinelli as a person and supported much of what he did when he was in the Virginia Senate and as attorney general.  Heck, I still like Mr. Cuccinelli and believe he is still a positive force in Virginia politics though, of course, I don’t agree with everything he does (such as his efforts at the 2016 Virginia Convention), and I’m sure there is quite a bit I have done that he has disagreed with.  I didn’t think that the Cuccinelli for Governor campaign had been going that well as it had been horribly nasty and negative and, by speaking personally to Mr. Cuccinelli, he might be able to reverse course.

However, when we sat down in Lynchburg, it became obvious that the Cuccinelli campaign would not change its direction.  One of the attendees suggested that Mr. Cuccinelli should welcome Mr. Sarvis to the debates, but that idea was rejected.  As such, when I returned to Harrisonburg, I wrote a piece in my local paper encouraging folks in the Shenandoah Valley to support Robert Sarvis due to Ken Cuccinelli’s apparent rejection of the idea of equality of opportunity for Mr. Sarvis.

After about a year of refusal for contact, in late 2014 or early 2015, I spoke to my state senator, Mark Obenshain, about this same matter and about crafting legislation to make ballot access fair and equal for all candidates regardless of party affiliation.  As Senator Obenshain ran on his father’s slogan that “The most important goal in my life is to have some significant impact in preserving and expanding the realm of personal freedom in the life of this country,” surely you would think he would support the equality of opportunity for all political candidates regardless of political party.

As many of you already know, instead he told me that he thought no one should be on the ballot except for Republicans and Democrats.  Having just finished running for local office as an independent, I took that news as a personal affront and particularly hypocritical especially given that he sent me a letter right after the election time thanking me for running.  Sometime before this incident, someone who knows my state senator far better than I ever will told me that he wasn’t much of a conservative, he just pretended to be one.  I didn’t believe it at the time though looking back I think it was because I didn’t want to believe it.  But, in that moment, I remembered those words and realized my state senator wasn’t an ally in the fight for liberty, limited government, and equality of opportunity, but rather an adversary.  I felt as if I had been lied to and, unwittingly through my actions, I had helped promote that lie to others.

This year, much like 2013, Virginians will see three candidates on the ballot for governor in November:  Democrat Ralph Northam, Republican Ed Gillespie, and Libertarian Cliff Hyra.  And, like 2013, one candidate, the Libertarian, has been excluded from the debates.  Ralph Northam states he favors allowing all candidates on the stage.  So far, Ed Gillespie refuses to comment on the matter, though in 2014 when he ran for U.S. Senate, I received word that his campaign would not participate in a debate that included the Libertarian nominee.  At this point, as far as I can tell, he still maintains a similar viewpoint.

What if Ed Gillespie weren’t allowed to participate in the debates because he is a Catholic.  Certainly, many people would denounce such a move as being against religious freedom.  What if Democratic Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax weren’t allowed to participate in a debate because he is black?  Wouldn’t that rightly generate outrage and cries of racism?  Or what if Jill Vogel, the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor, were discriminated against simply because she is a woman?  Would you remain silent in the face of sexism?  Aren’t these all wrong?  I am neither Catholic, nor black, nor a woman, but I would be upset at these policies even though as a white, Protestant male I would personally benefit from this kind of discrimination.  Why then should political affiliation be any different?  Why should Cliff Hyra be excluded simply because he isn’t part of one of only two legally recognized political parties in Virginia?   Whether a candidate runs as a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, Constitutionalist, independent, or something else,  if he or she jumps through the necessary hoops to make the ballot, shouldn’t he or she be treated with the same respect and dignity as any other?  When we support discrimination when it benefits us, then we have surrendered the moral argument and it becomes logically inconsistent if we later declare discrimination unfair when groups of what were formerly minorities seize the majority and decide to return the favor by treating us unjustly.  Although we may not look the same and we think differently, aren’t we all made in the image of the same God?

Although Republicans claim that they promote the idea of equality of opportunity, it is clear that some of them don’t really adhere to these principles.  They seek to maintain a monopoly on power and political access at the expense of freedom, healthy competition, and the rights of the average citizen.   However, it is important to remember that there are some good and principled Republicans and Democrats who do.  If people don’t enjoy political freedom, then, over time, using the lesser of two evils conundrum, it is much easier to chip away at their economic, personal, and religious liberties as well.

Adhering to the principles I was taught, I believe that everyone should have the same chance to succeed in all areas of life, including the political realm, regardless of age, sex, religion, race, socioeconomic status, or political affiliation.  If any candidate, politician, judge, or bureaucrat opposes this equality of opportunity and seeks to use the law to bully or discriminate against one of these groups, not only should they be defeated, but for the sake of liberty and a free society, they must be defeated.

Joining Team Sarvis

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Photo by Marc Montoni

Lately, many of you may have noticed that I have been writing a good deal about Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor of Virginia and are likely wondering why.  Well, although I believe Ken Cuccinelli has done many great things for our state during his time in public service, I also firmly believe that his campaign is proceeding in a terrible direction, one that has succeeded at not only alienating considerable numbers of traditional Republicans, but also undecided voters.  They are poisoning our politics and they are poisoning the GOP.  Now, unlike some Republican strategists, that doesn’t mean that I’d like to see Terry McAuliffe win.  My principles have not changed.  However, these developments have caused me to look in new directions and thus I have decided to lend my efforts to the cause of Robert Sarvis.

I’m sure that many of my Republican friends will be left scratching their heads at this news, confused, angered, or perhaps a little of both, so let me take a few moments to explain more fully how I came to this decision.

It all started about two months ago when I wrote an article expressing my deep disappointment in Ken Cuccinelli’s outright refusal to include Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis in the gubernatorial debates.  To me, political dialogue is one of the great hallmarks of our system of elections and while I support any effort to promote discourse, I equally oppose any attempt to stifle it.  I have seen too many candidates of a variety of political persuasions denied the chance to express their viewpoints, chances that they ought to have had.  For example, Libertarian Gary Johnson, Constitutionalist Virgil Goode, and Green Jill Stein were all excluded from the presidential debates in 2012, despite the fact that they were listed on the ballot in a majority of states.  Previously, Gary Johnson was also barred from a majority of the Republican debates, which, no doubt, played heavily in his decision to switch from the Republican to the Libertarian Party banner.  Earlier that year, my representative, Bob Goodlatte refused to debate his primary challenger, Karen Kwiatkowski.  Previously, in 2010, Bob Goodlatte snubbed the JMU debate group by not attending a debate with his two third party opponents, and, perhaps most importantly, back in 2007 & 2008, Ron Paul was repeatedly excluded from attending the GOP presidential debates by the mainstream media.  The simple fact is that if candidates do not have a level playing field, either as a result of media bias, party bias, or candidate bias, then a whole subset of views can easily be erased from political landscape, either inadvertently or maliciously.

As a result of this concern, I contacted the group Free & Equal in the hopes that they would be able to remedy this problem.  If you recall, Free & Equal hosted a third party debate between the various 2012 presidential contenders, an event that I applauded as it expanded political discussion.  Although it would be easy for me to simply sit on my blog and grouse on the injustice of excluding Robert Sarvis, I realized that I could do more, much more than simply write about this issue.  I have been directly involved in political campaigning for more than half of my life, since the age of 15, and have a wealth of experience and knowledge that I could use to help set this wrong right.  I have been trained by both the RNC and the Leadership Institute and have served multiple campaigns over the years.  Not only could I act, I felt that I had to act.  After all, if I had the ability to make a change and did not, I would be just as responsible as those squelching political dialogue.  But what should I do?

While I thought more about this matter for a few days, I reflected upon the tactics of the Cuccinelli campaign and was, quite frankly, appalled.  My inbox overflowed with press releases and they were all the same, lambasting Terry McAuliffe over some issue (both legitimate and trivial stuff) without offering any positive message about Ken Cuccinelli.  As I wrote on August 7th, “it is as if they are blindly throwing darts as fast as they can, hoping that at least one will hit the board.”  I contacted the Cuccinelli campaign several times with my complaints but was completely ignored.  I had reached a breaking point.  The excessive negativity of the Cuccinelli campaign coupled with their hypocritical complaints that Terry McAuliffe refused to debate while simultaneously working to exclude Robert Sarvis was completely unacceptable.

Therefore, I contacted Robert Sarvis to see if and how I might be able to serve his campaign.  Although the vast majority of my campaign experience has revolved around grassroots organizing, I was told that the campaign’s greatest need was in fundraising.  Fundraising is certainly not my forte and only something in which I dabbled in previous campaigns, but, as it is what they needed, that task is what I agreed to do.  As the campaign progresses, I hope I will have the opportunity to serve in other ways as well.

When the leader of the Lynchburg Libertarians heard that I had joined the Sarvis campaign, she was quite curious why I, a conservative within the Republican Party, would do so.  Although I’ve explained my two major reasons for this decision, there are a handful of others, which I’ll briefly touch in no particular order of importance:

First, I constantly feel a strong desire to promote the ideals of liberty and my political principles. Ideally, I express these principles through my employment, and working for the Sarvis campaign allows me to do so once more.

Second, I am a person who appreciates being valued.  I regret to say that although I’ve devoted considerable time and energy to my party and its candidates over the last eighteen years, those currently leading the various campaigns and the party have done a pretty darn good job of ignoring me for quite some time now, in much the same way as Robert Sarvis has been ignored (though that seems to be changing!).  Although I’ve only been with the Sarvis campaign briefly, I will admit it is nice to be reminded that my efforts are respected, not simply taken for granted.

Third, I am still on the lookout for a fellow liberty-minded woman with whom I can share the great adventures of life.  It is possible that through this effort I will find this person.

Fourth, as I’ve gotten to know Robert Sarvis through our discussions online and in person, I must say that I am quite impressed by his knowledge, experience, passion, and dedication to the principles of a limited state and federal government. He offers a vision that is quite appealing to libertarians and conservatives.  He is a voice that must be heard.

As I said at the beginning, politically and personally, I still like Ken Cuccinelli quite a bit.  After all, he was the only statewide candidate I endorsed in 2009 and should he win this year, I believe that he will serve Virginia well.  However, we are setting the stage for something that will transcend the outcome in November and that thought worries me greatly.  The Cuccinelli and McAuliffe campaigns are charting a course that will likely damage political dialogue in this state for years to come.  I have been seeking to build bridges and find common ground between like-minded folks, be they Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, or a multitude of other political affiliations, while they both seem to promote an “us against them”, scorched earth mentality.  Over the last several weeks, I have spoken to several fellow conservatives and libertarians who have silently pealed away from the Cuccinelli campaign for many of the same reasons and, assuming the campaign continues to degenerate, I expect more to follow in the days to come.  We must resist living in a political world dominated by hatred and fear.  It is time for a new direction and I feel honored by the opportunity to assist the Sarvis campaign in their effort.

So, do you agree with me that political dialogue needs to be expanded?  Are you sick of the extreme negativity?  Do you believe that citizens throughout this great Commonwealth need to know about of all of their choices, that they should have the opportunity to discover Robert Sarvis?  And, if your answer to any of these questions is yes, will you to head on over to the campaign website and donate $100, $50, $20, or whatever you feel is appropriate?  After all, as I’ve mentioned, funding is still the campaign’s greatest need.  After doing so, please send me an email or leave a comment below so that the campaign will know that I’m out there doing what I can to fundraise on their behalf.

Let us continue to advance liberty in all things!

Cuccinelli’s Negative Campaign

IMG_1815On the typical day, both the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia send out a multitude of press releases.  For example, when I opened my email this morning, I had already received four, one at 8:00 AM, another fifteen minutes later, a third at 9:30, and the most recent at 10:45 while I was writing this piece.  Each topic bore a similar theme to the multitude dispersed weeks and months prior.  Today’s headlines read, “McAuliffe Biggest Obstacle Seems to be Himself”, “Terry McAuliffe’s Payday Lending Double Standard”, “McAuliffe’s Sales Pitch Starts to Sour”, and “Breaking: McAuliffe’s GreenTech courted Obama’s Solyndra aide”.  For comparison, yesterday’s titles include: “Hardly Recognizable McAuliffe”, “Editorials Across Virginia Focus on the SEC Investigation Surrounding McAuliffe’s GreenTech”, “Meet McAuliffe’s Environmental Sugar Daddy Tom Steyer”, and “ICYMI: New TV Ad Scandal”.

Notice a theme? Not a single email is centered on Cuccinelli’s record in public service, either as a state senator or as our sitting attorney general.  Instead, each seeks to degrade, demonize, or question the ethics of Terry McAuliffe, Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent for governor.

Don’t misunderstand the point of this opinion piece.  I firmly believe that negative campaigning serves an important purpose when used constructively and in moderation.  Some Republicans cried foul when Jamie Radtke attacked George Allen during the 2012 Republican Senate primary.  However, she didn’t just simply criticize Allen, but offered a contrast how a Senator Radkte would differ from a Senator Allen.

These Cuccinelli pieces are different.  They offer nothing positive other than to suggest that voters ought to elect Ken simply because he is not Terry; that McAuliffe is so ethically challenged that anything or anyone is a better alternative.

Although I haven’t watched each race as closely as this one, as someone who has followed politics for 19 years, I’ve never seen anything quite like the tactics that the Cuccinelli campaign and the RPV is employing.  For at least a month previously, the Cuccinelli campaign harassed (and yes, harassed is a good word for it), McAuliffe to release his tax returns.  As far as I know, a person’s tax returns are his or her own private business and aren’t required to be released when he or she runs for public office.  Many people within the Cuccinelli camp argued that if McAuliffe had “nothing to hide then he would have nothing to fear”.  Even though politically useful in this situation, that line of thinking is exceedingly dangerous and works to further erode the privacy rights of our citizens, especially future office seekers.

As a conservative, I believe that Ken Cuccinelli has made many laudable accomplishments during his time as attorney general.  However, I am absolutely disgusted by these daily messages, especially the constant barrage from the RPV, seeking only to deride Terry McAuliffe even further.  It is as if they are blindly throwing darts as fast as they can, hoping that at least one will hit the board.  No.  The ends do not justify the means.

Who’s to blame for all of this excessive negativity?  Is it Ken Cuccinelli?  Cuccinelli’s staff?  RPV Chairman Pat Mullins?  Or is it someone else within the state party?  To be fair, a majority of these emails come from the Republican Party of Virginia.  However, I suppose it doesn’t matter, for as long as these messages continue without being denounced by Ken Cuccinelli, all are complicit.

Given the tone the campaign has taken thus far, I suspect it won’t be too long until we start seeing ads like Elizabeth Dole’s completely outlandish attack against Kay Hagen in 2008.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve reached a breaking point.  I’m on the verge of non-discriminately trashing everything the Cuccinelli campaign and the Republican Party of Virginia sends out.  This unconstructive, unrelenting negativity has to end!

Politics in Sherwill

This afternoon and evening, Uncle Glover’s County Store hosted a summer festival in Sherwill, VA, a small community located just outside of Concord in Campbell County.  As is typical with these sorts of gatherings, the event attracted political activists, office seekers, and the children of office seekers.  The Libertarian Party was the most active at this event; not only did they have a booth with literature and yard signs, they also had two candidates, Robert Sarvis for governor and Jonathan Parrish for the 23rd House of Delegates district.  The Democrats featured Katie Webb Cyphert, who is running for delegate in the adjoining 22nd district.  The Republican Party was not visibly in attendance nor did any of their incumbent delegates or other hopefuls participate in this event.

Below are a few photos from today:

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Jonathan Parrish & Robert Sarvis

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Katie Webb Cyphert & Daughters

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Robert Sarvis & His Children

The Gubernatorial Debate

IMG_1089Recently, Virginia Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli has been promoting the idea of a series of debates between himself and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe.  The Cuccinelli campaign has suggested fifteen debates across the commonwealth in a variety of locations including one in the Shenandoah Valley, in the city of Harrisonburg.

However, so far the McAuliffe campaign has not accepted this idea.  As a result, the Cuccinelli camp has run a series of ads on Facebook and elsewhere insisting that Virginians deserve a multitude of opportunities to hear from and learn about their choices for governor in November.

Now, I absolutely agree that debates serve as an important tool in campaigning and a handful of lively contests are exceedingly valuable.  For that reason, I wrote against my own representative back in 2010 when he refused to attend a debate sponsored by James Madison University.  Should McAuliffe agree to at least a few debates?  Yes, a thousand times, yes!

Unfortunately in this situation, Cuccinelli has fallen into the same trap as Representative Goodlatte did three years prior; the debate ought to be used as a forum to allow all candidates that will appear on the ballot to express his or her opinions.  Goodlatte would not debate back in 2010 because he only faced third party opposition.  Cuccinelli wants to debate in 2013 but according to fellow blogger Rick Sincere, plans to exclude at least one other candidate, Libertarian Party nominee Rob Sarvis.  This news is deeply disappointing.

This whole situation has echoes back to the national stage.  After Ross Perot’s performance during the presidential elections, Republican and Democratic operatives got together to make certain that independent and third party candidates would be excluded from future debates.  They created a monopoly among their parties.  After the Green, Libertarian, Constitution, and Justice Parties weren’t invited to take part in the 2012 Presidential debates, an organization called Free & Equal hosted a debate where all of the candidates, along with the two major party candidates, were invited to participate.  Not surprisingly, neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney chose to attend.

I applaud the Cuccinelli campaign in their effort to bring the candidates to a vast number of citizens across Virginia.  However, to exclude any eligible candidate based upon his or her party (or lack thereof) is unacceptable.  Debates are a great thing, but to be legitimate, they must allow all of candidates the chance to express their opinions.

Too Fast, Too Spurious

VC Note:  Recently, a press secretary from the Republican National Committee reached out to me as a result of my work on the Virginia Conservative.  Over the last several weeks, I’ve gotten several articles from them and, from time to time, some of their pieces will likely appear here.  Today, I wanted to share their response to Terry McAuliffe’s latest ad regarding the transportation tax bill.

For the record, here is the ad in question:

And here is the Republican National Committee response:

Democrats And Virginia Legislators Catch Terry McAuliffe Speeding Away From The Truth In His Latest Campaign Ad

Terry McAuliffe’s Campaign Is Airing An Ad That Claims He Played A Role In The Passage Of A Transportation Bill In Virginia. “McAuliffe’s campaign ad that began airing last week details McAuliffe’s behind the scenes efforts to lobby Democrats in the General Assembly to vote for the historic, compromise transportation funding package. The ad infers that McAuliffe’s efforts helped secure passage of the measure.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Sen. Charles J. Colgan, On McAuliffe’s Participation In Negotiations Over Virginia’s Transportation Bill: “When I Was There, He Didn’t.” “Sen. Charles J. Colgan, Manassas Democrat and the longest-serving member of the Senate, was an informal adviser to the conferees as they hashed out differences between the House and Senate versions. But Mr. McAuliffe never spoke to him about it, he said Tuesday. ‘When I was there, he didn’t,’ Mr. Colgan said.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

Democratic State Senator J. Chapman Petersen Said “He Never Spoke With Mr. McAuliffe.” “J. Chapman Petersen, Fairfax Democrat and one of two Northern Virginia senators to vote against the plan, said he never spoke with Mr. McAuliffe.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

State Senator Petersen: “I Don’t Know If He Tried To Reach Me.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Senate Aide, On McAuliffe’s Participation: “There Was No Contact Between Terry McAuliffe And Our Office And Nobody Thought He Had Any Impact On The Outcome.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

A Democratic Aide Claimed “She Wasn’t Aware Of Any Direct Lobbying Efforts From Mr. McAuliffe On The Bill.” “One Democratic aide acknowledged that Mr. McAuliffe attended a private caucus meeting but that she wasn’t aware of any direct lobbying efforts from Mr. McAuliffe on the bill.” (David Sherfinski, “Virginia Governor’s Race Turns Harsh With McAuliffe’s Soft Campaign Ad,” The Washington Times, 5/28/13)

“State Sen. Walter Stosch, R-Henrico, Said Claims In A Television Ad By Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe Are Absurd.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

State Senator Stosch, A Conferee On The Bill: “Terry McAuliffe Was Not A Participant Nor Did He Have Any Influence In The Development Or Negotiation Of The Transportation Bill.” “But Stosch, who chairs the Senate finance committee and was on the conference committee of House of Delegates and Senate lawmakers who hashed out the final deal, said McAuliffe is taking credit that he shouldn’t. ‘Terry McAuliffe was not a participant nor did he have any influence in the development or negotiation of the transportation bill,’ Stosch said in a press release Tuesday.” (Todd Allen Wilson, “Sen. Stosch Says McAuliffe Didn’t Help Transportation Deal Pass,” Daily Press, 5/28/13)

Cuccinelli Opens Valley Headquarters

Around 3 PM on Saturday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli arrived at the Republican Party headquarters in Harrisonburg to officially kick off the opening of that office.  About seventy-five people attended including several elected officials such as Delegate Ben Cline of Rockbridge County and Harrisonburg/Rockingham Sheriff Bryan Hutcheson.  Also on hand were representatives from a handful of other campaigns: Jeannemarie Davis’, Corey Stewart’s, and, of course, State Senator Mark Obenshain’s.

After a prayer and a few introductory remarks, Delegate Tony Wilt spoke to prep the crowd for Ken Cuccinelli.  The following video captures the entirety of the attorney general’s speech.

Cuccinelli & BootsOnce Ken Cuccinelli finished, Georgia Long, a 6th Congressional District State Central Party Representative, offered him a gift of flowers in a boot-shaped pot.

After Mr. Cuccinelli left, with the start of the campaign season officially underway for the Republican Party in Harrisonburg, volunteers manning the phones to begin anew the process of identifying and targeting voters.

In the Shenandoah Valley, the long and likely heated contest to select the next governor of Virginia has begun!

The Bolling Question

In less than a month’s time, on March 14th, Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has stated that he will be making a major announcement.  Presumably, he will be declaring whether he intends to run for governor in 2013 as either an independent or a third party candidate.

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling
Bob McDonnell & Bill Bolling (in what must have been happier days)

So what is your prediction?

Bill Bolling for…Governor?

Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling
Governor Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling

In the early stages of the 2013 gubernatorial race, it seemed as if Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling would be the unquestioned Republican nominee.  Due the deal struck four years earlier between now Governor Bob McDonnell and Bolling, where Bolling would forgo running for governor for McDonnell in exchange for future political support, who would able to stand up against the combined political strength of these two men?

Senator Cuccinelli and Bolling
Then Senator Cuccinelli and Lt. Gov. Bolling

Then Ken Cuccinelli entered the picture.  Ken Cuccinelli, the dynamic Attorney General of Virginia who garnered national attention for his stand against Obamacare, tossed his hat in the ring for governor.  Some people in Republican circles had hoped that Cuccinelli, following Bolling’s example four years prior, would run for re-election thus giving Bolling a clear path to the Republican gubernatorial nomination.  After several months of uncertainty, Ken Cuccinelli announced that he was entering the race for governor.  Given the popularity of Cuccinelli in conservative circles, this decision alone would have made a very difficult path for Bill Bolling’s victory going forward.  However, when coupled with the factor that the Republican Party of Virginia then switched their nominating process from an open primary to a convention, Cuccinelli became a virtual lock for the party nomination.  Cuccinelli had established himself as a rock star among conservatives and although feared by liberals, the closed process meant that Democrats and independents would have no hand in the party’s nomination process.

With these exceedingly difficult circumstances, Bill Bolling recently withdrew from the Republican nomination for governor.  At that time, he refused to endorse Cuccinelli for the post.  Given that Bolling had been seeking the nomination for governor presumably since first running for lieutenant governor in 2004, the fact that he would not readily endorse the man who he likely believed stole the nomination from him isn’t too surprising.

However there was one startling development as Bolling floated the idea of continuing his campaign for governor as either an independent or a third-party candidate.  The prevailing thought was that Bolling would not run in 2013 but was merely using the idea as a way to vent his frustration about the whole process.

But it seems that the idea of Bill Bolling for governor is not dead.  Over the weekend, I was sent the link to a website that is actively promoting his candidacy.  It seems that Gail “for Rail” Parker, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006, and the Independent Green Party of Virginia are working to get Bolling’s name on the ballot.  According to the site, the petition drive for Bolling began on January 2nd of this year.  The real question becomes is this effort independent of the Lt. Gov. or is website part of his exploratory run?

Bolling for GovernorI’ve said on several occasions that Ken Cuccinelli will be the next governor of Virginia.  However, if Bill Bolling runs either third party or as an independent, it is possible that he could draw enough support from disaffected Republicans to radically change November’s outcome.  Will this movement led by Gail Parker derail the Cuccinelli campaign train?  Will Bill Bolling run for governor?