Libertarian Party

Can Libertarian Cliff Hyra Make a Dent in the Virginia Governor's Race?

Democrats and Republicans running establishment candidates.

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Cliff Hyra has a ready answer for anyone who thinks being governor is not an entry-level job: Roughly one-fourth of the country's current governors started their political careers that way. One of them, in fact, serves as governor of Virginia. (Whether Terry McAuliffe qualifies as an argument for gubernatorial neophytes or against them is an open question.)

Wisely, Hyra—the Libertarian Party's candidate for governor of Virginia this year—does not bring up another example of a novice: Donald Trump, who holds the most important elected position in the world without any prior political experience. Trump's approval ratings in Virginia continue to dangle below 40 percent.

But Trump does neuter arguments Libertarians often confront, such as the notion that people will not vote for a political outsider. And the criticism that Libertarian candidates are ill-prepared for office—a stereotype Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson reinforced last year with his infamous Aleppo Moment. That was embarrassing, but Trump makes Johnson look like a walking encyclopedia.

The Trump era also confounds other received wisdom, such as the supposed immutability of ideological groups. A recent Cato Institute study on "The 5 Types of Trump Voters" finds that almost 20 percent hold essentially progressive views on economic and social issues. Some of the fiercest Trump critics, on the other hand, are traditional conservatives of the National Review variety. "Never-Trump Republicans" make up a significant segment of the political populace.

This has led to a fair amount of speculation about a potential re-alignment of America's political parties. Libertarians, who generally sound like Republicans on economics and Democrats on social issues, should be able to benefit from such a realignment by forming a coalition from both parties who favor limited government across a broad swath of issues.

Nice theory, anyway. It hasn't worked out so well in practice. ("Just like libertarianism itself!" cackle Statler and Waldorf from the Muppet Show balcony.) Even in elections where Libertarians have had a chance to break into the big leagues because the two major-party candidates turned off so many voters, they have come up short.

It happened last year, when Johnson—a former Republican and two-time governor—received only 3 percent of the vote. And it happened four years ago, when Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis won 6.5 percent of the vote for governor of Virginia against McAuliffe and the GOP's Ken Cuccinelli.

If Libertarians can't break 10 percent (or even five) in elections like those, it's hard to see how they can make a bigger splash any other time. Which isn't to say the party is doomed to irrelevance. New Hampshire now has three sitting Libertarians in the state legislature. And even candidates who have no chance of winning can still make an impact by steering public discourse down different avenues. Just ask Bernie Sanders.

Yet Sanders was no neophyte. He was an established politician offering an alternative to dissatisfied party loyalists. Virginians already have had two of those this year: Tom Perriello on the left and Corey Stewart on the right. Periello carried the Sanders flag in the Democratic primary and got trounced. Stewart, a Trumpian to the core, carried the Confederate flag in the GOP primary and almost won.

That is bad news for the Virginia GOP, but it could be worse news for Hyra—who, on his campaign website, describes himself as "socially inclusive." In his acceptance speech at the Libertarian Party nominating event, Hyra also stressed the virtues of "unlimted freedom and"—please note—"respect."

Social inclusion and respect were not exactly high among Stewart's campaign themes. And Republicans who are turned off by the Stewart wing of the party can simply vote for their establishment nominee, Ed Gillespie.

Still, Hyra is performing a signal service simply by running. Like Sarvis before him, he is palpably smart, with an undergrad degree in aerospace engineering and a career as an intellectual-property lawyer.

He is straight-laced, which can only do good for the Libertarian Party's image. And he thinks people are tired of partisan rancor, and therefore might be open to someone who focuses on "ideas, not teams or tribal affiliation." He is "not an ideologue by an means," he says. "Incrementalism is sort of my calling card… I don't worry about privatizing the roads." If a policy works, then "we should be open to it."

Hyra has crafted a platform tailored to promote innovation and economic growth: End the state's BPOL tax, which applies to the first dollar of business revenue, rather than the first dollar of profit. Repeal certain occupational licensing requirements. Cut personal income taxes. Expand charter schools. Repeal the Certificate of Public Need regime in health care. Legalize marijuana. Roll back regulations that hinder the growth of the food and beverage industry.

And focus on respect. "Respect is at the heart of libertarianism," he said in an interview on Wednesday: Just because you think someone else is wrong doesn't mean you should impose your will on them. It's important, Hyra says, to have "respect for people no matter how different they are."

That's a message Virginians probably respect in turn. Whether the regard translates into votes, however, could be a different story.

This column originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

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  1. I met Cliff Hyra a couple months ago. He’s not the most well-versed in libertarian principles, but then again, he’s like 13 years old, and “not well-versed in libertarian principles” is still way better than “actively hostile to libertarian principles” like every other candidate.

    1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

      This is what I do… http://www.onlinecareer10.com

  2. Speed read as Cliff Hydra. I suspect Coulson has his number.

    1. Cliff Hyrax, maybe?

      1. Oh my god i’ve fallen down a rabbit hole of looking at hyrax pictures.


  3. The Trump era also confounds other received wisdom, such as the supposed immutability of ideological groups. A recent Cato Institute study on “The 5 Types of Trump Voters” finds that almost 20 percent hold essentially progressive views on economic and social issues.

    Well, since the Democrats are in overdrive trying to alienate their traditional base this isn’t that surprising. It’s even less surprising considering Trump has been a Democrat for most of his life. That’s my opinion, anyway, although why people think that switching to the Republican side is going to do them any favors when their policy preferences helped to ruin the Democrat party is unknown.

    I chalk it up to basic human irrationality.

    1. And just for bonus points, aren’t we constantly told how all the racists in the Democrat party went over the to the Republican side of the aisle? I mean, ignoring of course some long-time Democrat politicians who are still holding office that were actual KKK members back in the day of course.

      This would seem to imply that Democrats, at the very least, should be well aware that constituencies change. Right?

      1. It’s amazing how much you can avoid being aware of a thing when your livelihood depends on that lack of awareness.

        1. That there are racists in the Democratic Party or that Democrats are aware of anything?

    2. why people think that switching to the Republican side is going to do them any favors when their policy preferences helped to ruin the Democrat party is unknown.

      Because they are voting based on tribal affiliation and anything that helps the “Republican side” is by definition good.

  4. Ugh why can’t Virginia ever have a decent L(or even l) candidate for Gov? This guy is like a Sarvis clone.

    1. Even our third party candidates are moderate squishes.

      1. I’d imagine it would not be very hard for hard-core libertarians to win virtually all LP nominations. Why don’t they try? Hey, if the cute chicks don’t show up at the Mixer, then you might have to dance with those who did show up.

        1. Do any girls show up at the libertarian mixer?

  5. Can’t win if you don’t play.

  6. Johnson-Weld would have supported the nomination of Garland…

    1. What the fuck does that have to do with anything? And wipe your chin, that’s disgusting.

      1. Hard to get any reliable support when real libertarians see them as them as charlatans.

        1. Neither of them is running for governor of Virginia, however.

          1. That’s nice.

  7. Before long the whining will begin: “but he’s stealing our votes!”

    1. And why not?

      He has no hope of winning–he’s spoiling. Hell, there have been detailed brags of spoiling–‘did the L party candidate beat the spread between the D and R? And there’s hope for this–and hope that the party that got spoiled will now listen to libertarian concerns………

      …….while they sit, powerless, waiting for the next election as the Democrat–who L party spoiling got elected–tears apart the Constitution, destroys liberty, and advances a statist agenda.

      Every libertarian that’s ever been elected to national office has been elected as a Republican. REPUBLICANS are clearly already listening–and they’ll likely listen more if the Libertarian party would stop spoiling elections for the only party that listens to them at all.

      No one owns anyone’s vote, but gods above, learn to strategize.

      1. Azathoth!! also advises abused spouses to strategize, since no one else will want them on account of all the bruises and PTSD.

        1. Do you know what dickbag? You retards keep using that analogy–the abused spouse analogy–to refer to the GOP’s love hate relationship with libertarian ideas–but what you endlessly pursue is the affections of the party that just hates you. No love, no libertarianish people in national offices. Just endless disdain, derision, and assignation to the great fascist lumpenpatriot.

          But you all keep trying to make yourselves pretty, you cover the bruises, cuts and cigarette burns and shove your tits out there in the hope that this time you’re a cum-dumpster instead of a shithole.

      2. He has no hope of winning–he’s spoiling.

        My thought is, if a Libertarian (or any other 3rd party candidate) “spoils” an election, it likely *DESERVED* to be spoiled. The D’s and/or R’s don’t like it? Tough shit. Time for them to start listening to something other than the delusional or criminal voices in their own heads.

  8. should be able to benefit from such a realignment by forming a coalition from both parties who favor limited government across a broad swath of issues.

    HAHA! Good one!

    1. Yeah, the two most populous regions of Virginia are almost entirely dependent on federal spending – Hampton Roads with the Navy and various contractors thereto, and NoVa with large chunks of the federal apparatus itself. There really isn’t a libertarian constituency in either major party here.

  9. RE: Can Libertarian Cliff Hyra Make a Dent in the Virginia Governor’s Race?
    Democrats and Republicans running establishment candidates.

    What?
    Republicans and democrats running establishment candidates again?
    Who would’ve thought that?

  10. No, because a month before the election, a bunch of Republican shills will show up and convince 60% of the libertarian voters that they HAVE to vote for Cuchinelli because otherwise McAulliffe will win and that will usher in the apocalpyse – their children will be forced to serve food at gay weddings along side Hispanic immigrants who are stealing their jobs and collecting welfare while undermining their identity as white Europeans by speaking Spanish.

    1. Alright I’ll say it I definitely feel gayer after the last four years McAulliffe.

    2. That doesn’t seem to’ve worked out too well. It probably also didn’t help that Cuccinelli looked completely terrified in all of his ads.

      1. Even with how terrible a candidate he was I’m almost positive he would have won if the GOP hadn’t pulled all his funding like two weeks before election day because of how bad it’s internal polls had him losing it. Yet he only lost by like two points.

      2. Even with how terrible a candidate he was I’m almost positive he would have won if the GOP hadn’t pulled all his funding like two weeks before election day because of how bad it’s internal polls had him losing it. Yet he only lost by like two points.

        1. I only lost by like two posts.

  11. Perhaps libertarians should take a page out the socialists’ handbook and change the name of the party to democratic libertarians. After all it fools a lot of democrats to vote for candidates like Bernie.

  12. Would’ve been far better if the article just said “No”

  13. Libertarians will never win until we change our electoral system from the current “first past the post” to Ranked Choice Voting! Maine has shown the way by enacting RCV statewide through the initiative process. California needs to do the same, and the Libertarian Party of California needs to lead the charge.

    1. The Libertarian Party of California couldn’t lead the way out of a gazebo in broad daylight.

  14. Isn’t the answer to a question in a headline always no? ((It most certainly is in this case.)

  15. Y’know what else dangles below 40%?

  16. Hey, didn’t the Richmond Times Dispatch editorial board endorse Gary Johnson for president?
    BTW, the whole Alleppo “gaffe” was a (probably Democrat) press release (because for some reason, everybody used the word “gaffe” in the headline). It was no big deal as “gaffes” go–I mean, he didn’t accidentally or on purpose bomb civilians, expose national or personal secrets, advocate violating natural rights, nor promise to do so…you know, actual gaffes, where they accidentally reveal what they really will do if elected. (Instead of revealing it on purpose, like Gary Johnson.)

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