The race for governor next year will get more crowded tonight. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler profiles the libertarian candidate, who launches his campaign this evening in Tiffin.
Charlie Earl served in the Ohio House in the 80s, and since 2010 has been wanting to come back to the Statehouse. The 67 year old former broadcaster and educator used to be a Republican, but ran for Secretary of State that year as a libertarian. He now says he’s running for governor.
“Our theme is ‘A Bold Ohio’,” Earl says.
Earl says he wants to return Ohio to what he calls “a leading state”, which he says he’ll do by encouraging the development of what he calls a safe and sane energy policy and legalizing the production of industrial hemp, and a job creation package hinging on eliminating business taxes in Ohio. And like most libertarian candidates, Earl approaches same-sex marriage and abortion from the perspective that they are not for the government to interfere in or regulate – though he describes himself as a born-again Christian and a pro-lifer.
And it’s clear Earl’s goal is to unseat Gov. John Kasich, whose plans to expand Medicaid has angered many Tea Party activists and conservatives.
“It’s ‘Obamacare lite’. He’s trying to couch it in other terms. He just wants the federal money in so he can pad his resume for his run for president. That’s speculative – I don’t know that for a fact, but I assume knowing the history of career politicians. They’re always looking ahead to the next job, and John’s young enough that he could make a run for the presidency,” Earl says.
Kasich hasn’t officially announced his plans to seek re-election, but Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s campaign is well underway. And while the libertarian candidate for governor has failed to get even two and a half percent of the vote in the last two elections, Earl says voters should consider him a serious contender.
“If anybody’s worried about vote splitting and the danger that might cause for the GOP, then that means they don’t have any confidence at all in their legislators, " Earl says. "That means they are too weak, too lily-livered, too spineless to stand up to a Democrat governor should he win, or to a libertarian governor when I win.”
Earl says he feels he can be competitive with $1.5 million, but he hopes to raise more than that. And he’s targeted the same group of voters nearly every candidate wants to court.
“Fifty-four percent of voters in Ohio are unaffiliated or independent. That means at some point in their voting lives, they’ve decided that neither party truly represents them. Now historically they’ve only had the option of one or two – column A or column B. We are aggressively going after to offer the 3rd option.”
And Earl says he’s not at all concerned about stealing votes away from Kasich. He says, “I intend to beat him.”