The Libertarian Party of Kentucky will put its candidate on the U.S. Senate ballot today after verifying some 5,500 petition signatures last week, party Chairman Ken Moellman says.
Moellman expects candidate David Patterson, a Harrodsburg police officer, will have nearly 5,700 verified signatures once he files the petition 2 p.m. today with Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, who coincidentally is one of his opponents this fall.
Third-party candidates must solicit 5,000 signatures in Kentucky to get on the ballot, and Moellman says Patterson’s campaign has collected about 9,000 raw signatures, costing the party more than $17,000.
While third-party contenders have fared poorly in statewide election, Moellman says he hopes Patterson’s candidacy will shift focus toward substantive issues rather than attacks between U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, and Grimes, a Democrat.
“I think that both campaigns at this point are basically running against each other. In other words, they’re not running for the office, they’re running against the other person,” Moellman said in a phone interview Friday.
“Nobody’s really talking about tough issues. They’ve touched on the coal stuff, which is important. Make no mistake, eastern Kentucky coal is very important, but that touches only one piece of the state.
“I’m from northern Kentucky, right, so we’ve got a bridge that needs to be replaced. I have to ask the question, where did all that fuel tax money go? I mean, they talk about the number of cars across that bridge every day. Well, that’s a lot of gas. Where’d the fuel tax go?”
Moellman concedes mounting a campaign against two major-party candidates and outside interest groups that will dump millions into the race as Election Day nears. Still, he believes Patterson will appeal to disaffected voters who support neither McConnell nor Grimes.
He cites an April poll of 1,000 likely voters by Rasmussen Reports showing 53 percent believe neither major party represents the American public. What’s more, a Bluegrass Poll commissioned by four Kentucky news outlets shows Patterson gaining 7 percent support among 604 likely voters, cutting into the percentages of both McConnell and Grimes in a head-to-head contest.
“From a numbers perspective anything is possible,” Moellman said. “Obviously polling at 7 percent right now, that’s not too bad considering his name recognition is relatively low.”
“I think that there’s a lot of anger and disgust with both of the old parties out there in general, and I don’t know. Anything can happen. When you’re eight years into a recession, anything can happen.”