Larry Sharpe (New York) and Austin Petersen (Missouri) have announced their candidacies for governor and senate, respectively. Both were very popular at the 2016 Libertarian National Convention. Austin Petersen finished 2nd to former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, and Larry Sharpe forced a 2nd ballot and fell short to former Governor of Massachusetts William Weld, where he lost by just 32 votes (or 3.7%).
The difference in their 2018 campaigns? Larry Sharpe is running under the Libertarian Party and Austin Petersen is running as a Republican. Why are they similar? They are both libertarians who made the right choice for what party they are running under.
Austin Petersen’s decision to run as a Republican, though unpopular among Libertarian Party members, was the best choice to be elected. In Missouri, Donald Trump won the state by 18.6%. The state is overwhelmingly Republican, and that certainly will not change for 2018. Austin’s decision to run as a Republican was the only choice. Only 3.47% of the vote in Missouri went to Gary Johnson in 2016. Being right around the national number in terms of percentage does not indicate the state would flip for anyone outside of the establishment parties.
Yes, Petersen will face a VERY difficult primary, but if he survives it, he has a premier shot to unseat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO). Petersen is already receiving endorsements from people like Bob Barr and Eric Brakey. His campaign announced July 12th that they passed the $100,000 mark in donations. He can expect to receive endorsements from major Liberty Republicans such as Rand Paul and Justin Amash, which will continue to bring him more national attention.
Larry Sharpe running as a Libertarian should surprise no one. He has been a vocal supporter of the party and will continue that trend as he seeks to unseat Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) to be the 57th governor of the Empire State. Sharpe is a former Marine who runs a company called “Neo-Sage” which “provides executive coaching, management consulting and training for professionals in many industries”. He has excellent marketing skills and is overall a great person who loves liberty.
“But Gary Johnson only got 2.3% of the vote in New York”
Yes, that is true, but in a state where Hillary Clinton won by 22.5% against Trump, it is safe to say the elephant in the room isn’t actually in the room, it was kicked out and sent to Missouri. New York Republicans have issues that extend from Niagara Falls to Brooklyn, and it likely won’t end by 2018’s cycle. Here’s what can happen though- Larry Sharpe and the Libertarian Party can run a clean, hard campaign that can gain national attention, and hopefully put the party in contention for winning nationwide. It isn’t likely the state of New York will vote for anything but a Democrat, but maybe the Libertarian Party and Larry Sharpe can steal 2nd and beat the establishment GOP. By doing so, the Libertarian Party in New York can qualify to be a major party (only the top two parties are considered major parties, and this is determined by the election for governor).
Through a combination of policies that should be attractive to disenfranchised Republicans and Democrats, as well as Sharpe’s bold and powerful marketing strategies, he and the Libertarian Party have a real opportunity to make progress for the liberty movement. Sharpe announced his campaign already raised five figures. He says they can hit $1,000,000 by the end of the year and $5,000,000 next year. Though optimistic, Sharpe has a well-thought-out seven year plan to make the Libertarian Party a strong national party. Sharpe isn’t just running to help the party. He wants to win. He referred to Governor Cuomo as “King Andrew” and criticized his police first, reform later tactics.
Two great men. Two great libertarians. Two different avenues to advance liberty. Two correct decisions.
Larry Sharpe and Austin Petersen have a chance to revolutionize this country in 2018 in very different ways, but with the same goals at heart.