By Ryan Lau | UNITED STATES
Throughout the 2016 election season, many political pundits speculated about the impact Gary Johnson may have on the Libertarian Party. Much of this discussion centered around goal results of 5% nationally, which would give the party major party status. However, Johnson fell short of these numbers, ultimately receiving a mere 3.3% of votes. Though some may consider this to be a failure, it appears that this is simply not the truth. Several states, most notably New Mexico, have drastically increased the number of Libertarian candidates that will be on the 2018 ballot. Despite the Land of Enchantment’s clear successes, one isolated Libertarian campaign may blow this success out of the water.
Larry Sharpe for Governor
In the grand state of New York, former Marine and businessman Larry Sharpe is taking action. With a legion of volunteers, he believes will soon exceed 1,000 people, his grassroots campaign shows more promise than, arguably, any other third party campaign. Although election day is still nine months away, Sharpe’s campaign already is making waves. With high hopes, he and his campaign are well on their way to an upset of Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Clearly, a Sharpe victory will be unprecedented, if it does occur. In fact, every Governor of New York since the Civil War has either been a Republican or a Democrat. Sharpe, however, fails to let this stat discourage him from pouring his heart into the campaign. In the filing period of the last six months, he raised an astonishing $102,596, according to a Politico report. Though this falls far short of Cuomo’s fundraising, it is far ahead of any Republican fundraising efforts. In fact, no declared Republican candidate has raised more than $16,026 thus far. Thus, despite Sharpe’s third-party status, he has proven himself capable of collecting large sums of money.
Sharpe’s Social Spike
In just one short year, with the release of his seven-year plan for the Libertarian Party, among other suggestions for party improvements, Sharpe has risen from just another Libertarian to one of the top members of an essentially leaderless party. With Ron Paul and Judge Andrew Napolitano prohibited from speaking at the party convention, many hope he may fill this void. Though this may be a way off, some recent occurrences confirm his rapid rise in popularity.
For the first time in decades, major news sources are reporting on a third party candidate. Just last week, the previously cited Politico report ran a major story about Sharpe’s successes. Reason Magazine also recently interviewed the ex-Marine in regards to his campaign, and many other, smaller news sources have begun to take interest in the candidate. Alexa search engine results also show www.larrysharpe.com increasing in popularity by over one million ranks in three months. In addition to recent media notices, Sharpe believes there are a number of other fields in which he can dominate Cuomo during the campaign.
A Competitive Advantage
Despite finishing in only second place in fundraising, Sharpe sees a number of opportunities to outperform his opponents. Most notably, this includes debate performances and social media. Sharpe has stated recently that he believes Cuomo to be “not a very good debater”, and considers himself more adept. A recording of his 2016 Vice Presidential primary debate is available here.
On social media presence, he also believes that he will be superior. Though Cuomo’s Facebook page has considerably more followers than Sharpe’s (around 129,000 compared to 41,000), Cuomo has already run a successful campaign, and he amassed many of his followers during that period, as well as during his term as governor. Sharpe, a political newcomer, shows potential to considerably grow this number. He describes Cuomo as “a dire soul when it comes to social media” and believes he will dominate this field.
How Likely is a Sharpe Victory?
Is a victory ultimately possible? Though his odds are fairly slim, an eventual win is not impossible. In the Politico report referenced above, Sharpe sounded hopeful in regards to his eventual victory. “Only about 4 million New Yorkers are going to vote”, the candidate assured last week. Based on this logic, a victory would entail the candidate receiving a minimum of just under 1.5 million votes.
In the 2016 election, Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson won 176,598 votes. For Sharpe to win his race, he would need to amass eight times as many votes as Johnson, when only a little over half of the number of people will likely be voting. Though this is no easy task, his impressive earnings thus far, as well as his potential to shine in debates and social media, may lead to a better than expected showing on Election Day.
What can you Do?
Currently, Larry Sharpe is seeking help in a number of ways. Of course, one way to assist the campaign is to make a donation. However, for those who cannot donate, or have already, there are a number of other ways to help. His campaign team is looking for volunteers to aid in phone banking, social media work, research, photography, door knocking, and several other areas. Anyone who would like to aid the campaign may sign up here.