Robert Sarvis: Libertarian Candidate for Governor of Virginia with Double-Digit Poll Numbers

Robert SarvisRobert SarvisRobert Sarvis is the Libertarian Party’s
candidate for governor in Virginia this year, and is so far doing
surprisingly well in the polls for that party,
coming in recently at 10 percent
in a Washington Post

With a law degree from New York University, a master’s in
economics from George Mason University, and
a Google Grand Prize in the company’s Android Development
in his past, this married 37-year-old father of two
is trying to appeal across the libertarian spectrum of “leave us
alone” with a slogan of “Virginia: open minded and open for

Predictably, the office of Republican gubernatorial candidate,
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, is saying a vote for
Sarvis is essentially a
vote for Democratic Party candidate Terry McAuliffe
. Senior
Editor Brian Doherty interviewed Sarvis by phone yesterday about
the joys and travails of a surprisingly lively third party

Reason: What possessed you to run for

Robert Sarvis: I had a long-standing interest
in public policy, and became increasingly frustrated with what I
saw as bad policy from both Republicans and Democrats. With the
financial crisis and recession and housing crash and the responses
to that, I became sure politicians didn’t understand what was going
on and weren’t really thinking through the likely outcomes of their
policy choices and were too much in bed with big business and big

In my area, in 2011 state elections, I saw a bunch of
uncontested races—in Virginia’s House of Delegates and Senate often
incumbents don’t have challengers—and decided, let’s give it a try,
see if I like politicking. I couldn’t be doing this race
without [his first race as a Republican candidate for state
Senate in 2011 in the 35th district—he got the nomination
uncontested]. I learned about politics, got comfortable talking to
voters. I got no particular support from the state [Republican]
Party, just local volunteers helping out at polling location.
[Sarvis got 36 percent of the vote, spending a mere $26,000] That
district is fairly strongly liberal Democrat.

Reason: Why are you running outside the
Republican Party now?

Sarvis: I got sick of the broken promises of
Republicans on economic policy. In Virginia in 2009 the Republicans
won the governorship and lieutenant governorship and in 2011 they
achieved an effective majority in the state Senate—it’s a tie but
the lieutenant governor is the tiebreaker. [The Republicans] had
the House, Senate and governor’s office and we didn’t get tax
reform, didn’t get regulatory reform, didn’t get school choice,
that was frustrating. [The Party’s] social policy took a rightward
direction and the GOP in Virginia is very socially conservative. I
no longer really cared to invest in the GOP.

When I saw who the candidates were going to be this time around,
it was terrible choices and [he began communicating with the state
Libertarian Party].  I got support from Libertarian Booster
, 10 grand [most of which went for 10,000 signatures needed
ballot access
, with at least 400 from each of 11 congressional
districts]. A guy working with that PAC had run for delegate near
me and knew I was interested in running for something else. He
floated the idea, I was interested.