October 24, 2013
MCLEAN, VIRGINIA -- SEPTEMBER 25: Robert Sarvis, the libertarian candidate for Virginia Governor is photographed in McLean, Virginia, on September 25, 2013. (Photo by Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)
Robert Sarvis in McLean last month (Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post)

Robert Sarvis, Libertarian gubernatorial candidate in Virginia, might be a perfect third-party storm. Virginians don’t like either of the major-party candidates, and Sarvis seems cool, according to George Will’s column on the subject. If Sarvis could get the money, media attention and debate time he isn’t getting now, delighted Virginians might be able to vote against both Republican Ken Cuccinelli II and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and still not be throwing their votes away — in the sense that it would be possible that Sarvis might win. Or at least garner enough attention to make Libertarians in general more viable.

Some commenters agree.

yellojkt

The Cooch has lost. If Libertarians are to ever grab the ring of legitimacy they should show up in force for Sarvis and humiliate the GOP power structure that continues to marginalize them.

But there is a lot of cynicism toward third parties in Commentville.

Paul Chase is on the fence, though not because of any faith that Sarvis might win:

I might very well vote for Sarvis. I’ve never voted for a Libertarian before, but he does make more sense than McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. Plus, I can’t think of a better time for a protest vote.

guyslp might like Sarvis but shrinks away from the Libertarian platform:

Indeed. I have been saying, again and again, that while Mr. Sarvis may be a charming, intelligent, and well-meaning individual, he has also made the decision to align himself with the Libertarian Party. I encourage everyone to read their platform. If you honestly believe that their proposals are the solutions to the issues this nation faces then, by all means, vote for their candidates.

Tenguzero has a theory on why third-party candidates are a bigger problem for Republicans than Democrats:

The sad part of third party candidates is that it often seems they’re destined to simply be a vote leech for the Republican candidate. Too often all a Libertarian or Independent can accomplish is to siphon votes away from the Republican, since our country IS a center-right majority. I wish it could be a more level playing field, but alas — the left may be in the minority but they do well when it comes to circling the wagons for a candidate. The right is just too large a majority and therefore more diverse, which results too often in splits.

Jean_Valjean extends that thought to a perverse conclusion:

Read between the lines. Will just endorsed McAuliffe.

Two commenters think earlier intervention could have saved us from the problem of two mediocre major-party candidates:

rosefarm1

Campaign money goes overwhelmingly to the mainstream parties, George Will. When will it occur to you that persistent opposition to campaign finance reform only hurts independent candidates like Sarvis and enables incumbents and better-known candidates?

Geezer4

If the Commonwealth had not revised its nominating procedure, a realistic Republican candidate, present Lieutenant Governor Bolling would most probably have been far ahead of the Democratic nominee, and there would be a Republican Governor again, next year.

And tidelandermdva says Will chose some particularly unappealing examples of third-party candidates and the impact they can have:

If I were Sarvis, I would not appreciate being linked to George Wallace and Strom Thurmond.

Interesting! The campaign might have mixed feelings about that, too. As of this writing, the Sarvis campaign has tweeted Will’s column, but not posted it on the campaign’s news page. Hmm.