Libertarian Ron Bishop told PJM his write-in campaign for Senate has skyrocketed since the line of women accusing former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore of sexual harassment and assault started forming.
Bishop is one of two candidates running write-in campaigns in the Dec. 12 special election to fill the seat of former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), temporarily filled by Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.). Mac Watson, who told the Times Daily he was “not a Republican, but extremely conservative,” is the other write-in candidate.
“We’ve gotten more press. We have more people looking at us now. Our social media sites are getting a lot more hits,” Bishop said. “There are a lot more messages from people who say, ‘Thank God there’s a third party out there.’”
Bishop, who works as a “self-taught IT professional” in Birmingham, said even before the Roy Moore sexual misconduct scandal engulfed the special election there were plenty of people who were not fans of Justice Moore.
“He’s a character here in Alabama. He’s been thrown out of the Alabama Supreme Court twice, and folks just weren’t happy (with Moore),” Bishop said.
Bishop adds himself to that list of Alabamians who just can’t stomach Justice Roy Moore.
“Once he won the Republican nomination, we decided to go ahead and start this write-in campaign,” Bishop said. “This was way before any of these allegations came out.”
But it isn’t just the candidacy of Moore that upset GOP voters, according to Bishop.
He said Alabama voters were disgusted during the primary campaign when they saw the “Republican establishment came in here throwing money at Strange and they were going like, ‘Oh, that’s just another Republican guy.’”
“Most everyone else is so disgusted they just don’t get out and vote,” said Bishop.
However, Bishop said there is an active core group of Republicans who will vote in GOP primary elections. But he maintained that most of Alabama voters are independents who don’t care for either the Democrats or the Republicans.
“He (Moore) has a very vocal, very energized base that will put him in office. Most everyone else is just showing their hands up because they won’t vote for a Democrat,” said Bishop. “But they also don’t want to vote for Roy Moore.”
So there’s the opportunity for an upset, as Bishop sees it.
He just has to convince GOPers who don’t like Roy Moore but can’t stomach the idea of voting for Democrat Doug Jones to pick the Libertarian. Bishop also needs to woo independents who dislike both the Democratic and Republican parties and convince them that it’s worth the time and trouble to get to a polling place and write the name “Ron Bishop” on the ballot.
“If we can just show everyone that there is a viable third option that has the core values of Alabama voters in mind – low taxes, less government – we are hoping they are going to go out Dec. 12 and write my name in,” Bishop said.
Bishop also pointed out the only reason he has to run a write-in campaign is Alabama’s “draconian law, enacted after Ross Perot’s presidential campaign” that makes it all but impossible for a third-party candidate to break the Republican-Democrat duopoly of power.
“Scenarios like the Alabama special election are why ballot access is so very important,” said Libertarian National Committee Ballot Access Committee Chair Ken Moellman.
“The election is a train wreck, and the people of Alabama are in this pickle partially because of intentionally onerous ballot access laws meant to prevent voters from having other choices – including Libertarian choices,” Moellman added.
Alabama Republican Party chairwoman Terry Lathan doesn’t like the idea of a write-in campaign that could steal votes away from Moore.
“It would be a serious error for any current elected GOP official or candidate to publicly endorse another party’s candidate, an independent, a third party or a write-in candidate in the general election,” she told the Alabama Political Reporter.
Just a few GOP votes going from Moore to Jones could make a big difference. A Real Clear Politics average of polls taken from Nov 1. to Nov. 15 showed Moore leading Jones by only 0.8 percent. A Fox News poll released Thursday showed Jones opening a lead of eight points.
However, Bishop said he wasn’t bothered by the idea that his candidacy could help put Jones into the Senate.
“If I am able to get a vote from somebody, it isn’t me that is the problem,” he said. “It’s their candidate that’s the problem. It’s that flat-out simple.”
Bishop has the fire in his gut to beat Roy Moore and, of course, Doug Jones. And he believes there is an opportunity for a third-party candidate to win this election, even a write-in candidate.
What about money? Bishop has very little.
Bishop was on his way to Auburn University to talk to a student group when he spoke with PJM, one of many in-person appearances he planned for the final days of the campaign.
Bishop said he had appeared on three radio shows and had a TV interview scheduled for the final days before the Dec. 12 vote.
“We’re also hitting social media left, right and sideways and doing everything we can to let the people of Alabama know there is a third option out there,” Bishop said.
He was also hoping to hire a plane to skywrite “Ron Bishop for Senate” over the crowd at the Alabama-Auburn college football game Nov. 25.
“That would be the most awesomest thing,” Bishop said, “if we can get the money. We are reaching out to some wealthy Libertarians throughout the country. It’s rather pricey, but folks would definitely look up and say, ‘Who’s Ron Bishop?’”