Virginia's Libertarian Candidate for Governor Votes, Speaks

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 5 2013 1:58 PM

Virginia's Libertarian Candidate for Governor Votes, Speaks

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He did.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—"Have you been following the smear campaign?" asks Robert Sarvis.

The Libertarian candidate for governor, whose high-single-digit/low-double-digit poll numbers have surprised worried Republicans all year, voted today in a Northern Virginia precinct with little evidence of Republican support. "My wife and I went together, so I've got at least two votes," says Sarvis.

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He's amused at the late-game rumors that cast him as the willful tool of Democratic spoilers. "There are probably half a dozen to a dozen blog posts out there, and a new one today about the Libertarian booster's PAC, which helped us fund the petition drive—one of their donors was previously an Obama donor, so I'm supposed to be a stooge for Obama now," he says. About a rumor that Democrats collected petitions for him: "I was the one collecting my petitions from all the petitioners, so I would have seen that."

I ask Sarvis whether some polls that show him "taking" more votes from Democrats than Republicans had surprised him. "No, we knew we'd pull from both sides. There are different polls out there, about where the vote is coming from, but the voter dissastisfaction is real."

And how did he stay at 8–10 percent in the polls, when—months ago—Republicans assumed he'd collapse like third partiers always do?

"It's the voter dissastisfaction combined with how I ran a mainstream campaign that people considered a legitimate option. The advertising from the PAC helped, definitely. The fact that we kept running the campaign by getting in front of people helped, too—I have to thank all the people who actually got out there, campaigned for me, waved signs."

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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