Libertarian governor nominee Robert Sarvis talks politics with Augusta Free Press

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Robert Sarvis has put more than 8,500 miles on his van this summer running for governor. It might be an uphill battle for Sarvis, running as a Libertarian against well-heeled major-party opponents in Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, but for Sarvis, 36, a native of Northern Virginia with degrees from Harvard, Cambridge, NYU and George Mason, it’s one worth fighting.

“My vision for Virginia is one that is open-minded and open for business. I’m here to protect both economic freedom and personal liberty, to get the rule of law back into government, and to root out the special exemptions and special treatment that monied interests get from government, and return us to serving the average voter,” Sarvis said in an interview with AugustaFreePress.com during a visit to Downtown Staunton on Thursday.

Sarvis, in 2011, challenged State Senate Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw in the 35th District, running as a Republican and losing with just 36 percent of the vote in a three-way race in the safe Democratic district. He grew disenchanted with the GOP and decided to shed himself of the major-party label in favor of the Libertarian Party, which favors economic and social freedoms and small-government solutions.

Sarvis thinks his third-party status could make it easier for him to govern in Richmond.

“A third-party governor is in a position to get the best ideas from both parties. I think that I have, better than either of the other candidates, an opportunity to work with both parties, and to work for solutions that really work for Virginia,” Sarvis said.

Sarvis is among the critics of the bipartisan transportation compromise forged by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell that was widely praised for providing more funding for roads projects.

“It’s important to get more spending on something as important as transportation, but we did it in a way that doesn’t solve a lot of the problems,” Sarvis said. “One issue is that we failed to address the fact that we have this centralized bureaucracy that is deciding so much for what local and regional projects get funded. I don’t think that’s a very good way of doing it. Central planning is very inefficient, and it opens us up to a lot of special-interest lobbying.”

Sarvis is also critical of the way the funding will be generated.

“We moved further away from a user-pays-type system where there is general funding from the sales tax. That’s a regressive tax. There’s a regional surtax. A lot of people in poorer areas might not even own cars, but now they’re going to see a substantial increase in sales tax. There are a lot of taxes that are totally unrelated to roads that were also added.”

Sarvis differs from mainstream Democrats on another key issue – the Affordable Care Act that has become the defining program of the Obama administration.

“The ACA was a mistake. Further federalization of the health-care industry is moving in the wrong direction,” said Sarvis, who thinks the healthcare policy status quo is “a major reason why we have such runaway spending.”

“The incentives are all wrong. There’s no price transparency whatsoever. Spending is very inefficient. The ACA is going to make matters worse. I don’t think we should expand that role. What we should be doing is seeking waivers or changes to the programs to create a lot more policy freedom at the state level,” Sarvis said.

Sarvis is especially critical of Virginia Republicans on the social-issues front.

“We should have relative freedom in our private lives. I’m the only candidate who is willing to fight for that across the board. There were several mistakes made by the GOP. I’m not trying to wade into the abortion fight, but I do think that regardless of whether you’re pro-choice or pro-life, the recent bills were mistakes on rule-of-law grounds and scope-of-government grounds, so I think those were problematic,” Sarvis said.

“When the GOP is nominating a candidate who is for criminal enforcement of adultery laws, resurrection of crimes-against-nature anti-sodomy laws, somebody who wants to federalize the definition of marriage, I think that’s a mistake, and the GOP is no longer credible when it talks about freedom,” Sarvis said.

More on the Sarvis campaign: Click here.

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