With just over a month left before the Nov. 6 elections, New York’s gubernatorial race is in full swing. On Monday evening, Libertarian Party nominee Larry Sharpe took time out of his busy campaign schedule to speak with NYU’s College Libertarians.
Sharpe, who narrowly lost the vice-presidential nomination for the Libertarian party in 2016, won the Libertarian party nomination for New York governor in April. Now, he has been pushing to unseat Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo and usher in a less imposing state government in this year’s elections.
While a poll from Siena College released Monday morning showed Sharpe winning only two percent of likely voters, Sharpe told the College Libertarians he is fiercely optimistic about his chances for success. The event was held at NYU Global Center’s Grand Hall and was open to the NYU community in addition to members of the public.
“The thing to look at here is that 70 percent of New Yorkers don’t vote,” Sharpe told NYU students. “Those are not likely voters are they? No. So any poll that counts likely voters doesn’t count them.”
Sharpe, a former Marine and businessman, also made it clear that second place would still come as a victory for his supporters.
“If you vote gold this year, here’s what I promise you: there will be change,” Sharpe said. “Because either I win, in which case I put all these ideas into play, or I come in second, in which case a microphone goes into my face every single day — “how did you do it?” — and I keep talking about all these issues: about raising money without raising taxes, about fixing the pension bomb, about fixing family court, about the second amendment, about supporting small business, about supporting our teachers.”
Like many libertarians, Sharpe advocates minimizing state intervention into New Yorkers’ lives. Examples of this include his promises to decriminalize marijuana, find alternatives to tax increases, reduce administrative oversight on teachers and students and reinforce Second Amendment rights.
After explaining his platform, Sharpe spent an hour answering audience members’ questions. Residents from Queens to Yonkers shared their concerns, prompting discussion on issues such as ending the widespread flight of residents from New York, reforming the family court system, solving New York pension solvency and supporting industries like craft marijuana farming and fracking so long as businesses remain transparent.
Audience members seemed responsive to Sharpe’s presentation.
“I think he put on a good performance compared to other politicians,” said CAS sophomore Andrew Chapman. “Not just his speech, but the way he engaged with audience members before the speech and the way took questions after the speech for more than an hour and addressed every question.”
CAS junior Doug Braff, an event organizer for the NYU College Libertarians, said the event went so well they’re planning to host other libertarian speakers and events throughout the year.
“We had a wonderful turnout, even from outside the New York metropolitan area,” said Braff. “I think Larry did a wonderful job and he answered everyone’s questions beautifully.”
As the event came to a close, Sharpe offered a final statement for students who plan to vote in the election.
“If you’re a student right now,” said Sharpe, “the number one thing you want right now is opportunity. I don’t want you thinking, ‘As soon as I get my degree, I gotta pack up and leave.’ If you want actual opportunities, someone who has a plan to open up new ideas, to support small business, to support incubators, you’ve got to vote Larry Sharpe in 2018.”
Email Chris Ren at [email protected].