HD-95: Libertarian Party Pick-Up Opportunity?

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Via Kelly Cernetich, there’s a pretty fascinating scenario unfolding in HD-95 in York.

HD-95: Libertarian David Moser told the York Dispatch that he collected the 300 signatures he needed by Wednesday to run against Eugene DePasquale (D-York) who is running for Auditor General but has also remained on the ballot for his current House seat. Moser said he doesn’t have a problem with DePasquale, but wants to give voters an option. Moser even suggested people vote DePasquale for Auditor General and Moser for the House seat, avoiding any contention or need for a special election should Depasquale win both races. Depasquale told the Dispatch, “I’m all for competition.” There is no GOP candidate in the race.

Republicans haven’t held this seat since 1984, so it seems pretty unlikely that DePasquale would lose the House seat. But are people going to vote for him twice on the same ballot, for both House and Auditor General? I’ll be a cynic and say probably, since I’d guess most voters won’t know this means they’re really voting to have a special election later for the House seat.

But! If I were head of the PA Libertarian Party, I’d go all in on this race. It’s not every day that you have a head-to-head race between a Democrat and a Libertarian. Usually a Libertarian on the ballot is playing a third party spoiler role. Voters who might like the Libertarian candidate’s platform will instead vote strategically for the Republican.

Looks like we don’t have any real specifics on David Moser’s platform yet, but if I were him I’d try to downplay some of the more right wing libertarian views, and really play up the areas where there’s common ground with liberals – pro-choice, marriage equality, marijuana legalization, pro-consumer alcohol reforms. It could also be an opportunity to inject some issues like occupational licensing and liquor license reform into the mix, where progressive goals are best achieved through less regulation.

In general, this seems like a good strategy for third parties. State politics is relatively uncompetitive, with a surprisingly large number of lawmakers running unopposed by another major party candidate every cycle. Maybe a good way to elect more third party lawmakers would be for those parties to hang back and wait to see which lawmakers don’t attract a Democrat or Republican challenger, and then try to put up candidates in those races, so the third party candidate competes head-to-head, rather than as a spoiler.

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