Robert Sarvis, a U.S. Senate candidate for Virginia, stopped by the Johnson Center Monday night for a meet and greet discussion with students and community members.
Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Virginia’s seat in the U.S. Senate and a Mason alum, entered the race in late June this past year. While he understands that his chances of winning a seat in the Senate are slim, he expressed his commitment to continuing to support Libertarian causes and beliefs.
“In terms of the Party, [after the election] I do plan on trying to help build them up and trying to help our state legislators,” Sarvis said.
One issue Sarvis has raised repeatedly on the campaign has been ballot access for third parties. The way Virginia law works currently, any political party wishing to put forward a candidate for statewide office must go through an extensive petition process and must file with the State Board of Elections by a predetermined date. However, if a candidate receives at least 10% of the total vote cast in a statewide election (such as for Governor or U.S. Senate), that party will automatically be given ballot access for the next election.
“Right after the election, we have to get together and start pushing towards things we want,” Sarvis said. “Obviously the ballot access is something we’d like to see changed.”
Sam Carpenter, a freshman here at Mason, put together the event with some help from Mason Liberty, a Libertarian student group.
When asked about his motivation for raising awareness about Sarvis, Carpenter touted the importance of a fresh perspective in politics.
“The Libertarian Party for me represents bringing government back to the people, and providing alternatives to the two-party system,” Carpenter said. “Personal liberties have been lost over many years, and the political gridlock is very unfortunate – these are people we hire, they are our agents and it’s a shame to not see them doing their job.”
Libertarians often advertise themselves as a reasonable alternative to the Democrat and Republican parties. Like many Republicans, Sarvis is in favor of a free-market economic system with minimal government regulation and defends against any type of government intrusion on gun rights or constitutional liberties. However, he aligns very liberally on social issues such as same-sex marriage, drug legalization and immigration.
“A new set of ideas, and more ideas, more discussion, can only be good for the American people,” Carpenter said.
Sarvis is attempting his third run at public office. Previously, he ran for the Virginia State Senate in 2011 as a Republican then as the Libertarian Party candidate for Governor in 2013. Before entering politics, Sarvis worked as a lawyer and then as a software developer.
“It’s really easy for us to be complacent and just let things happen,” Carpenter said. “But quite frankly this is our future, and if you want your rights insured, if you want the way of life that you have right now to be improved or preserved from what it could be, it’s time to take some action. So go out there, educate yourself; the Libertarian Party wants to spread their message to you.”
Photo Credit: Ryan Thorton