Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Adrian Wyllie has just completed a statewide tour of 30 brew pubs, discussing issues over craft beer. His campaign accepts Bitcoin. In other words, he's running a vastly different campaign than Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist.
But a July poll by Quinnipiac University showed Wyllie with 9 percent of the vote in a three-way race, while Crist got 39 percent and Scott had 37 percent. "Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie, but there are a lot of Floridians who arent keen on either of the major party candidates," Peter Brown, the poll's assistant director, said at the time.
Wyllie lives in Palm Harbor. He and his wife, Dawn, have been married 22 years and have two sons. He attended Dunedin High School and served in the U.S. Army and Florida National Guard. A small-business owner, Wyllie is president of an IT consulting firm and co-founder of the 1787 Radio Network, which calls itself "Florida's Voice of Liberty." He's also been chairman of the Libertarian Party of Florida.
The News Service of Florida has five questions for Adrian Wyllie:
Q: You've said if elected, you'll fight to repeal Common Core. Talk about why.
WYLLIE: Well, I firmly believe in the United States Constitution. And the federal government only has the authority to do those things which are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Education is not one of them. Education is the realm of the state and local government. And one of the problems I see with the Common Core curriculum is that it's coming down from upon high. And parents and teachers and students lose input when that happens.
Right now, it's very easy for someone to get their school board member on the phone and tell them their concerns or make suggestions about curriculum. But with Common Core, everything is being flowed down from the national level, and it really takes away the local community's ability to steer the direction of their local schools. So my objective is to repeal Common Core and to give local school boards more authority over the curriculum and the course of their schools. And also work to ensure that the funding is directed locally to the correct places. Right now we're spending a ton of money on education, and it's not making it to the classrooms. We need to fix that.
Q: You're also running against cronyism. But you've only raised about $62,000, while Scott and his supporters are on track to raise $100 million and Crist about half that. Is it possible to be elected governor without contributions from cronies who'll expect a return?
WYLLIE: (Laughs.) The reason that you see such a large gap in fundraising between our campaign and the campaigns of Scott and Crist is exactly because of the cronyism. We don't have special interests or large corporations trying to buy favors from us because they know that we're not going to be granting those special favors. We're not going to be granting those single-source no-bid contracts at three times the market value. That's the kind of influence that the big-money campaign financing buys. And we're not for sale.
Yes, that is one of my highest priorities: to go after the cronyism, to go after the corruption and the waste and, in a lot of cases, fraud. And that's how we can cut the state budget. We are very pro-business, but we're not pro-business in the way that Republicans or Democrats think of it. They think of it as giving special favors to the corporations that came to the table. We think of it as leveling the playing field for everyone and making sure that nobody has any special barriers to entry or hurdles in their way -- but by the same token, making sure no businesses have any special advantages. That's the difference in the Libertarian free-market concept.
Q: You're also against intrusive government. Both your opponents have been governor -- how would you rate their records in terms of respect for personal liberty?
WYLLIE: Horrendous. We've seen over both these administrations a growing encroachment in our individual freedom. We've seen it in the decimation of the Fourth Amendment here in the state of Florida. We've seen it to some degree in the seeming increase in the militarization of our local law enforcement. We've seen it in the form of REAL ID (federal identification law) and government delving into our medical records to do things like prevent people from owning firearms or prevent people from potentially using a certain type of drug.
And it really has to stop. We have to stop being afraid, and we have to stand up for our freedoms, because if we continue down this path, we're going to lose many of them forever.
Q: Growing numbers of independent voters, disgust with the tone of the campaign, low turnout in a midyear election -- are you feeling you could win an unprecedented share of the vote?
WYLLIE: Oh, absolutely. I wouldn't be in this race if I didn't think that we had a legitimate shot to win this election. Is it a long shot? Yes. But I do believe that we have a chance to get to that 33.4 percent that it will take to win. In the mainstream polls, I'm currently polling anywhere between 4 and 9 percent. However, our internal polling data puts us at around 15 percent.
I think what a lot of the pollsters are not taking into account is the influx of people who are not your typical supervoters or not even your typical likely voters. There's a lot of things that are going to be drawing people to the polls this November. One of them, for instance, is Amendment 2 (a proposal to legalize medical marijuana) being on the ballot. We know that is going to be energizing, specifically, a base of young people that in no way, shape or form have any interest in voting for Crist or Scott. So I would say that our realistic standings right now are somewhere in the teens. So that's what we're looking at. And if we can continue to build that momentum, which we have been, and with a solid debate performance, I really think we can change the course of this election -- and we can win.
Q: Your opponents are spending tens of millions of dollars to attack each other. Do you have any strategy other than to keep out of the way?
WYLLIE: (Laughs.) Basically, at this point, their attack ads have been extremely successful on both sides. And really all we need to do is reach enough Floridians and let them know that there is a third choice. I can't tell you how many people I talk to that say -- they may know nothing about my platform, but they just tell me, "I'm voting for you because you're not them." And I think that sentiment is very broad here in Florida.
So I believe that if we can just reach enough voters through grassroots campaigning that we can win this election. And you know, Mason-Dixon did a poll -- I believe it was a couple of months ago -- and even then, we were already at about 21 percent name recognition statewide. I think as that number grows, if we can get to 60, 70 percent name recognition, we've got a real good shot.
(Your brewery tour reached a lot of people.) Oh, it was absolutely phenomenal. We got a good amount of press coverage. Basically, we got TV or print coverage -- in a lot of cases, both -- in every market that we visited. We reached thousands of people. Our smallest event probably only drew 20 people, but we had some events that drew 150 people. And what we're doing: we're asking those people to spread the word. We distributed thousands of campaign signs and T-shirts and bumper stickers and literature. So the word is getting out there. It's growing organically.
We do plan to run some television ads, probably in October. However, we're never going to be able to run three every commercial break like the other guys are doing. So we really need to rely on the grass roots, and so far, it's been phenomenally successful.