OPINION: The election plot thickens with entry of ‘Tea Party Libertarian’

Friday, September 16, 2016 - 13:07

Is there such a thing as a tea party Libertarian?

We’re about to find out.

Joe Miller last week threw his hat in the ring for the U.S. Senate race — his third try for the seat and second run against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Miller upset Murkowski in the 2010 Republican primary election, leading to Murkowski’s historic write-in victory in the general election.

In 2014, he lost in the Republican primary to Dan Sullivan, who went on to defeat incumbent Mark Begich, a Democrat.

This time, however, Miller will be running as a Libertarian, replacing Cean Stevens on the ballot after she withdrew from the race. Miller said that if elected, he would caucus with Senate Republicans.

With a quick look at the Alaska Libertarian Party platform, it would appear to be a good fit with many of the values he has espoused in previous campaigns — smaller government, greater freedom. Indeed, during the 2014 primary race in which three candidates battled to see who could earn the title of “most conservative,” government overreach was a constant theme.

However, there is one area where Miller’s conservative views and the Libertarian platform diverge: personal liberty. According to their platform, the Libertarian Party view is that “all individuals have the right to exercise dominion over their own lives, and have the right to live in whatever manner they choose, so long as they do not forcibly interfere with the equal rights of others to live in whatever manner they choose.”

That’s a far cry from the conservative viewpoint on social issues such as same-sex marriage.

However, Alaska Libertarian Party Chairman Terrence Shanigan told The Associated Press that Miller would be a good fit for a party that believes in limited government.

“I think this race is less about party, but it’s so much about ideology and philosophy,” Shanigan said.

Meanwhile, Alaska Republican Party chairman Tuckerman Babcock said in a press release that after her primary win, the state GOP would be fully supporting Murkowski — who in the past has drawn the ire of some in the party for being too moderate, particularly on social issues.

Ideology and philosophy, indeed.

In a statement, Murkowski said she looks forward to “a spirited campaign on the issues that matter to Alaskans most.”

With Miller joining Murkowski, Democrat Ray Metcalfe and independent candidate Margaret Stock on the ballot, it’s safe to say that the debate leading up to the Nov. 8 general election will be spirited, to say the least.