KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was Jonathan Dine, the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate race in Missouri, who had the best line at the first debate between the three vying for the seat. “I’ll keep the Republicans out of your bedroom and the Democrats out of your wallet.”
Dine, a resident of Riverside, is running against incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Republican Rep. Todd Akin, he of the “legitimate rape” fame. This is Dine’s second run for one of Missouri’s Senate seats; two years ago, he was in the race with Republican Roy Blunt, who won, and Democratic Robin Carnahan.
The self-employed 33-year-old personal trainer and father of a 3-year-old daughter told me it was frustration with the government that led to his decision to enter politics as a Libertarian. “I feel we need better representation,” Dine said, as taxes rise and “freedoms decline.” He also believes we need “a fresh perspective” as a change from career politicians.
Dine was popular at the first debate, getting the biggest laugh with his closing statement about bedrooms and wallets. There was also a collective gasp from the audience when he addressed Akin’s legitimate rape comment, saying, “I was astonished to find Akin sits on the [House] Science Committee, yet he fails to understand eighth grade biology.”
Ironically, it was Dine — as a Libertarian, he’s generally against government involvement — who differed from his opponents when asked how the government should fight the growing epidemic of obesity. While McCaskill and Akin agreed it wasn’t the government’s role to tell us what to eat, Dine said government could slim down Americans’ waistlines with tax incentives for gym memberships, healthy foods and other diet and lifestyle changes.
Dine likens the federal government to an overweight person. “It’s a little bloated, a little inflated,” and it needs someone like him to help it get back into shape.
Polls showed Dine with 9 percent of the vote after that September debate, he says, but he was not invited to the second debate in St. Louis. Dine believes that Akin exerted his influence to keep him out. As a fiscal conservative and social liberal, Dine most likely would take more votes away from Akin than McCaskill.
In Public Policy Polling’s latest, Dine was pulling 6 percent.
What exactly does he support?
“Fiscal sanity,” for starters. He’d like to get the budget balanced as soon as possible. It’s his generation and those that follow who “will be burdened with the debt.” He wants to examine fiscal priorities, including looking at entitlements.
Ending the war in Afghanistan is another top priority. “We’ve accomplished our mission,” he says, so let’s bring the troops home.
“Civil liberties and personal freedom go hand in hand with economic freedom,” Dine told me. He considers himself a champion of personal liberty; he would like an amendment to the Constitution to assure marriage equality. As for abortion, “it should be left up to a woman and her doctor,” he said. “The government should not be involved at all.”
Dine also believes marijuana should be legalized. “It’s a vice not a crime,” he points out, and besides, think of the revenue for the government if marijuana was taxed like alcohol and cigarettes.
He’d like to replace the income tax with a 10 percent consumption tax, but not on necessities like food and clothing. The federal gasoline tax should be repealed, he believes, with states taking on the responsibilities of roads and infrastructure.
Without a budget for television commercials or the organizational structure to take advantage of volunteers, Dine has run a very personal campaign, attending events where he can meet potential voters, shake hands, give out literature and explain his positions on the issues. Social media, especially his Facebook page, have played a big role in attracting potential voters.
I asked him if he would run for office again after this election. Showing a definite sense of humor, he replied, “I’ll probably want to run for another term after my first one as senator.”
On a more serious note, I asked Dine if voting for him isn’t throwing away one’s vote. “I hear that a lot,” he said. “But voting for someone you don’t care for, who’s the lesser of two evils — that’s throwing away your vote.”