Friday, November 08, 2013

Dirty Politics Virginia Style

We earlier learned how last year Obama Democrats used support for third-party, Libertarian candidate Dan Cox in Montana to help re-elect Democratic senator Jon Tester against unfavorable odds in a state that voted for Romney. Now, though practically nobody has noticed, the same “dirty politics” story has repeated itself elsewhere.

The place is Virginia. It’s an historically conservative state now tipping Democrat based upon northern Virginia’s large and growing Federal government-connected population. But Democrat Terry McAuliffe ran poorly for governor there four years ago, and needed help this time around, help that could come from having a third-party Libertarian candidate on the ballot who could draw conservative but socially libertarian votes away from Republican social conservative Ken Cuccinelli.

Andra and Joe Liemandt
Enter Austin, Texas, software billionaire Joe Liemandt, a major Democratic Party benefactor and Obama campaign bundler. In March 2012, ABC News reported Liemandt was among three dozen of the Obama campaign’s largest bundlers invited to a state dinner honoring British Prime Minister David Cameron. ABC noted the invited bundlers, who included Vogue editor Anna Wintour and Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, were responsible for at least $10.7 million of the $250 million the campaign had collected to that point.

Yet in Virginia this year, Liemandt paid for the professional petition circulators needed to put gubernatorial candidate Robert C. Sarvis on the Virginia Libertarian ballot. Liemandt’s Libertarian Booster PAC made the largest independent contribution to Sarvis’ campaign. As stated, Liemandt is a Democrat and a top bundler for Obama, part of the small circle that includes Terry McAuliffe, himself a major Obama bundler and the Democratic party national chair when Obama was elected in 2008. So is there any question Liemandt was doing McAuliffe a favor by putting Libertarian Sarvis on the Virgina ballot, in a spot where he could draw votes away from Republican Cuccinelli?

Libertarian-leaning Republicans were pretty upset about the Sarvis candidacy, noting he doesn’t support tax cuts (he in fact supported new taxes on roads), didn’t oppose medicaid expansion and called himself “pro-business,” not pro-free market.

Conservative Charles C. W. Cooke, writing in National Review, was angry that Sarvis advocated a “vehicle-miles-driven tax,” something Cooke said was “almost impossible to square” with any “remotely coherent ‘libertarian’ position” on privacy, since the plan required installation of government GPS systems in private cars, “an astonishingly invasive proposal.”

A Quinnipiac poll showing that Sarvis actually took slightly more of the vote from Democrat McAuliffe (47%) than from Republican Cuccinelli (45%) seemingly undermined the “dirty politics” nature of Sarvis’ candidacy. But who is to say Democrats inclined to dump McAuliffe--because of Obamacare for example--wouldn’t have ended up with Cuccinelli if Sarvis weren’t an option? At the same time it’s highly likely Republicans upset with Cuccinelli’s stands on abortion, divorce, gay marriage, or guns--not to mention his identification with the Republicans who closed down government--were only too happy to vote Libertarian Sarvis.

In the end, Sarvis received 6.6% of the vote, while McAuliffe’s margin over Cuccinelli was only 2.5%. McAuliffe owes big thanks to Mr. billionaire Democrat bundler Liemandt.

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