The Constitution stipulates that you have to be 30 years old to run for the United States Senate, so it's a good thing that Eric Brakey had a birthday this month. Brakey, a GOP state senator in Maine, is that rare Liberty Movement conservative who made it to the November ballot for the U.S. Senate as a Republican. He was a Ron Paul delegate and state director in 2012, he received an early endorsement in this year's Senate race from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), and in an interview published Wednesday he enthused about the Libertarian Party's Senate candidate in New Mexico, Gary Johnson.
"I think that Gary Johnson would be one of the best U.S. senators in the U.S. Senate were he to win," Brakey told The Libertarian Republic. "I think he would be there on a lot of issues that are near and dear to my heart as a libertarian….I hope that he wins. I would love to serve alongside him."
Brakey took an unusual path to the GOP nomination. Trumpian Gov. Paul LePage played will-he, won't-he for a long time, and competitor Max Linn was disqualified from the primary due to petition-signature issues. Even running unopposed, Brakey received only 59 percent of the vote. His race against incumbent independent Angus King and Democratic patsy Zak Ringelstein is universally rated as a "safe" win for King, and the meager polling so far has been brutal—52 percent to 25 percent (with 9 percent for the Democrat, and 15 percent undecided) in a Suffolk University poll earlier this month.
Brakey's issue set sounds more libertarian than Republican—pro-marijuana legalization, pro-right-to-try, anti-corporate welfare, anti-military interventionism. He's a criminal justice reformer and a gun rights advocate. And he's gently dismissive of those libertarians who think Gary Johnson or other Liberty Movement types fail to pass libertarian purity tests.
"Now, he's not a perfect libertarian," Brakey said in the interview, "but there are very few people who are perfect libertarians. In fact, if you ask most libertarians, there's only one person who's a perfect libertarian, and that's whoever that person is….'And no one else is a real libertarian except for me, I'm the only one who's doing it right.' I don't really think that. I support anyone and everyone who is trying to promote the cause of liberty in whatever path they are doing so. Whether that's through the Republican party, or other parties. Whether through political means or nonpolitical means. I think that we should all support and encourage the cause of liberty wherever it is being advanced, anywhere."
Here is another interesting exchange from Brakey's interview with The Libertarian Republic's Gary Doan:
TLR: The 2018 primaries don't seem to have gone well for liberty Republicans. In fact, after the loss of candidates like [Nick] Freitas and [Austin] Petersen, I personally feel that you're the only Republican running for U.S. Senate left worthy of getting excited about, and most analysts seem to think King's likely to be reelected. The non-liberty portions of Trump seem to be the most popular, and on the left, we're seeing a resurgence of openly socialist candidates, energized by Bernie in a way that people like you were energized by Ron Paul. Why do you think that is, and are there still reasons to be optimistic about the liberty movement?
EB: Well, I think there are many reasons to be very optimistic about the liberty movement. I just came from, just a few weeks ago, I was at the national convention for Young Americans for Liberty. And what I saw there was so many young people, six years after Ron Paul last ran for President, so many young people who are still coming to the message of liberty for the first time.
You know, I met a young guy who was a chapter president for Young Americans for Liberty out in California. I asked how he came to the liberty movement, how he found us. And he said, you know…two years ago he had been the San Francisco director for Bernie Sanders. And when Bernie Sanders lost, then he found Gary Johnson. And Gary Johnson lead him to understanding libertarianism and then reading Austrian economics, then discovering Rand Paul and Ron Paul's message…
People are still coming to this message, because the message of liberty is always fresh in this system we live in that is run by authoritarians. So, I am very encouraged. We are in the fourth wave of the liberty movement. There are still so many young people coming to this.
And you know what? Look at Nick Freitas in Virginia. People say "Well, Nick Freitas lost the primary." But Nick Freitas came so close to winning that primary. He came out of nowhere and took on a Republican who had been the statewide nominee in the past, who was incredibly well known, and he nearly won. That is a success story. Certainly, he fell short of winning the primary, but he so exceeded expectations, the liberty movement exceeded expectations in that race, and I'm sure that Nick Freitas and so many others, there's so much more to come.