Though Robert Sarvis is the announced Libertarian candidate who is reportedly pulling 10 percent of the vote in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, Republican Ken Cuccinelli likely has more to offer libertarians in the state than Sarvis. Libertarian Ron Paul and his son Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) think so, and both have endorsed Cuccinelli.
Political analyst Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner, who often espouses the libertarian viewpoint, wrote Friday that Cuccinelli “would arguably be the most libertarian governor in the United States if he wins on Nov. 7,” a point that contrasts sharply with the fact that libertarians are attacking him.
As Carney observes, Cuccinelli, as Virginia’s attorney general, was the first to challenge the constitutionality of ObamaCare’s mandates, taxes, subsidies, and infringements upon liberty.
As governor, Cuccinelli’s plan is to cut the state income tax rate by 15 percent for individuals and 33 percent for corporations, creating an environment that is ripe for the free market.
But libertarians should take note that Cuccinelli’s style is more “pro-economic growth” and less “pro-business,” as evidenced by the fact that his state’s business lobby has had its feathers ruffled by his stand against corporate welfare. Cuccinelli opposed the tax hikes that were sought by Northern Virginia developers to pay for roads and public services, and he pledged to cut the tax credits for special interest groups.
In addition, Cuccinelli fought, while a state senator, to protect second amendment rights and, consequently, has an “A” rating from the NRA. He also opposed smoking bans when serving as a state senator.
As Carney states, “Cuccinelli also often chooses government restraint over ‘law and order.'”
Not afraid to oppose his own party, Cuccinelli, was the only Republican to vote against an expansion of the death penalty in 2009, even during a competitive primary for attorney general.
Cuccinelli’s strong character was visible in his unwavering effort to exonerate Thomas Haynesworth, a black man who was wrongly convicted of rape and jailed for 27 years. Cuccinelli argued successfully to obtain a rare “writ of actual innocence,” which was possible because as a state senator, he had advocated for a law that would make such exoneration easier.
Carney questions why, with Cuccinelli having libertarian bona fides, Ed Crane, former president of the Cato Institute, and other libertarians are supporting Sarvis and spending $300,000 on his campaign?
He suspects, he says, that identity politics plays a role:
I asked Sarvis why a libertarian should oppose Cuccinelli, and the first words out of his mouth were “social issues.” Crane’s only critique of Cuccinelli when announcing the $300,000 buy for Sarvis: “Ken Cuccinelli is a socially intolerant, hard-right conservative with little respect for civil liberties.”
Cuccinelli is undoubtedly conservative. He’s an observant Catholic with seven children and a home-schooling wife. He’s a hero to the pro-life cause and an opponent of gay marriage.
Libertarians, as a rule, support gay marriage, and most libertarians are pro-choice. But pro-life views fit within the libertarian framework: If you believe an in utero baby is a person, and if you believe the government has a legitimate role in protecting the innocent from violence, it’s logical to restrict abortion.
And Cuccinelli, while unwavering in his moral opposition to abortion, is a moderate among Virginia Republicans when it comes to government restrictions on abortion: He worked behind the scenes trying to remove a GOP-created requirement that women undergo an ultrasound before getting an abortion.
Carney gets to the crux of the matter, however, when he asserts, that “social liberals’ attack on Cuccinelli conflates his personal conservatism with his policy views.”
The fact is that, while Cuccinelli might not personally agree with a law, he knows his job is to uphold the laws in his state. So, when he prosecuted a 47 year-old sexual predator who had sex with a minor, he defended his state’s “Crimes Against Nature” law but did not attempt to “ban sodomy” or homosexuality, as his critics say. He also has never attempted to “ban contraception,” as Planned Parenthood and its minions have charged.
As Carney contends, Ken Cuccinelli may personally live a conservative lifestyle, but his record as both a state senator and attorney general is one that demonstrates that liberty is worth fighting for. Shouldn’t libertarians respect his choice to live as he does, while he also works to keep Virginians free?