This NPR article on Weedgate is right on the money:
A quarter-million dollars in online ads is now supporting a third-party Senate challenger — Libertarian candidate and pizza delivery guy Sean Haugh. The ads are coming from an unlikely source: the American Future Fund, a secret-donor political group….
The $225,000 is nearly 30 times more than the $7,744 Haugh said he has spent for himself.
To put that in perspective, the two main party candidates and outside groups have already spent $85 million on the North Carolina Senate race in advertising that directly tells voters to support or oppose a candidate. Nonprofit political groups that are allowed to keep their donors secret, including the Koch brothers-founded Americans for Prosperity, have spent tens of millions of dollars more in so-called “issue” ads attacking Hagan.
“You have to wonder why people are willing to spend up to $100 million to elect somebody to a job that only pays $174,000 a year,” Haugh said.
Just the sort of headline the creators of the Weedgate ads were hoping to generate this morning in the Raleigh News & Observer…at least they quote Sean Haugh’s statement that his campaign had nothing to do with them.
Washington Post: Conservative group funds pro-weed campaign for North Carolina Libertarian candidate
The Washington Post article on the “Weedgate” ads obtained a denial from the Koch brothers that they funded the campaign.
Possibly the most detailed and informative interview with Sean Haugh yet, ending with a Cramer-style “lightning round” of issues questions. Conducted by Jack Thompson and posted at his website, politicalbadger.com.
A richly funded series of campaign ads lauding Sean Haugh for his stance in favor of the legalization of marijuana and explicitly attacking Kay Hagan—but not Thom Tillis—for opposing legalization have been airing all over the websphere for the last couple of days. Funded by the GOP-leaning American Future Fund, the ads feature attractive college-age spokespersons and seem designed both to peel liberals away from voting for Hagan and scare conservative libertarians off from Haugh.
According to the National Journal article that broke the story, the slickly produced ads are mostly appearing on Hulu but there is also a YouTube channel devoted to the campaign, as well as a website.
The ads don’t contain any falsities—of course, Haugh does favor legalizing marijuana—but by their emphasis and omission of context, the actual message of the campaign is distorted. For example, the official campaign slogan—“Stop All War”—is eschewed in favor of “More Weed, Less War.” And the argument in favor of legalization is reduced to the implication that getting high is fun. No mention of the failed war on drugs, the wasteful and mean-spirited incarceration of millions of non-violent drug users in the USA, and the hundreds of billions of dollars in annual loot that prohibition affords the transnational criminal drug distributors.
Be that as it may, Haugh welcomed the ads. “It has always been my policy to be grateful for any support from anywhere. Whoever promotes my message accurately in any context whatsoever is doing me a kindness—even the haters who use it too attack me, if they print what I actually said, I am fine with it. My only goals now are to spread my libertarian message and increase my vote totals.”
Excerpt from the piece:
"They are not spoilers," says [Richard] Winger [editor of Ballot Access News]. "Libertarians are generally drawing equally from people who'd vote Democratic and Republican."
Haugh agrees with this analysis and bristles at the term "spoiler." As he sees it, his platform is a combination of ideas from the left and the right. He's pro-choice everything, anti-war, and wants a smaller government.
His grandfather was a moderate Republican; his parents are very liberal.
"I was simultaneously raised by Barry Goldwater and Martin Luther King, so you put them both together you get a natural-born Libertarian," says Haugh.
And because North Carolina is on everyone's Senate-race watch list, this natural-born Libertarian is bringing more attention to his party now, delivering pizzas, than he was able to do in a decade as a paid party operative.
Sounds good…except, of course, that everyone is a natural-born libertarian. Be sure to check out the comments posted on NPR’s site (over 100 and still growing).
Sean quote from the article in The Daily Signal by Josh Siegel: “My debate prep was not debate prep. I only practiced the Ebola question and that was because it was a new issue. I’ve been doing this a long time. I have principles, and when you have principles it makes things that much easier. As Mark Twain said, ‘If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember a darn thing.’”
Perhaps Sean Haugh will not end up with the most votes when the counting is done next month, but of the three televised debates held so far, the one last night that included him was, if not outright the best, certainly much more entertaining than the prior two, from which he’d been excluded.
While Democrat Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis recycled the same tick tacky calumnies from the second debate—she skipped hearings to go a fundraiser…he voted for tax credits that benefited a bank whose stock he owns—Haugh stuck to answering the questions—excellently framed by moderator Joh Evans—and talking about the issues.
Never-the-less, Haugh did get in the best zinger of the evening, when at the end of his closing statement, Tillis castigated Hagan for being an “establishment Republican”—obviously having meant to say “establishment Democrat”—and Haugh, exhibiting cat-like reflexes befitting his tie, immediately observed that it was an understandable mistake as he too often finds it hard to tell the difference between Republicans and Democrats.
Check out this WNCN-TV report on last night’s debate, including several good snippets on various topics. Also, some other takes around the state of North Carolina: