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Government and Politics

Libertarian targets Kasich with launch of Ohio gubernatorial campaign
Former Republican lawmaker Charlie Earl plans to run on a platform of no business taxes, legalizing industrial hemp and implementing a 'safe and sane' energy policy

Karen Kasler
Former Rep. Charlie Earl is clearly challenging Republican Gov. John Kasich.
Courtesy of Libertarian Party of Ohio
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In The Region:
The race for governor next year will get more crowded Thursday night. Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler profiles the Libertarian candidate, who launches his campaign tonight in Tiffin.
LISTEN: Charlie Earl says Kasich's Medicaid expansion is Obamacare Lite.

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Charlie Earl served in the Ohio House in the '80s, and since 2010 has been wanting to come back to the Statehouse. The 67-year-old former broadcaster and educator used to be a Republican, but ran for Secretary of State that year as a Libertarian. He's now running for governor. 

“Our theme is ‘A Bold Ohio’.”

Earl says he wants to return Ohio to what he calls “a leading state." He says he'll do that by encouraging the development of what he calls a safe and sane energy policy,legalizing the production of industrial hemp and implementing a job-creation package that hinges on eliminating business taxes in Ohio.

Pro-lifer who says abortion is not the government's business
And like most libertarian candidates, Earl approaches same-sex marriage and abortion from the perspective that they are not for the government to interfere in or regulate – though he describes himself as a born-again Christian and a pro-lifer.

It's clear Earl’s goal is to unseat Gov. John Kasich, whose plans to expand Medicaid has angered many Tea Party activists and conservatives.

Challenging Kasich
“It’s ‘Obamacare lite’. He’s trying to couch it in other terms. He just wants the federal money so he can pad his resume for his run for president. That’s speculative – I don’t know that for a fact, but I assume knowing the history of career politicians. They’re always looking ahead to the next job, and John’s young enough that he could make a run for the presidency.”

Kasich hasn’t officially announced his plans to seek re-election as governor, but Democrat Ed FitzGerald’s campaign is well underway. And while the Libertarian candidate for governor has failed to get even 2.5 percent of the vote in the last two elections, Earl says voters should consider him a serious contender. 

“If anybody’s worried about vote-splitting and the danger that might cause for the GOP, than that means they don’t have any confidence at all in their legislators. That means they are too weak, too lily-livered, too spineless to stand up to a Democratic governor should he win, or to a Libertarian governor when I win.”

Courting independents
Earl says he feels he can be competitive with $1.5 million, but he hopes to raise more than that. And he’s targeted the same group of voters nearly every candidate wants to court.
“Fifty-four percent of voters in Ohio are unaffiliated or independent. That means at some point in their voting lives, they’ve decided that neither party truly represents them. Now historically, they’ve only had the option of one or two – column A or column B. We are aggressively going after to offer the third option.”

And Earl says he’s not at all concerned about stealing votes from Kasich. He says, “I intend to beat him.”

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