Sharpe talks third-party political access, cannabis in NY, the Bills stadium, his BRO plan, Florida, and his time in the US Marine Corp
By Andrew Harris
No word play intended when I tell you that after talking with Larry Sharpe on the phone for a half hour about a range of NYS issues, you say to yourself: “Wow, he is really sharp.”
He talks fast and doesn’t need to pause and consider how he will finish a thought, especially when discussing his candidacy for NYS Governor as a Libertarian. Clearly Sharpe is living and breathing policy and he communicates his platform with confidence and acuity. No public relations safety nets, his campaign management team simple told me, “Larry will call you at 3.”
Our phone call was much more of a conversation than an interview, each topic of discussion is fleshed out below:
Third-party politics and being “shadow-banned”
As someone who wonders why we can’t have a viable third party, my first question to Larry was: Why can’t a third party get any traction ? I rambled on about the GOP and DNC stranglehold on our politics and Larry was quick to acknowledge that I was aware of the obvious. He didn’t want to lament on the plight of Libertarians and Independents over the last few elections cycles. Sharpe is sounding the alarm about what has happened since the pandemic began:
“Forget about how hard it was before the pandemic, it has gotten much worse with Covid. All Libertarians, and most third-party candidates have been “shadow-banned” over the reaction to anti-mandate sentiments. To explain what I mean by the term “shadow-banned,” I’ll give an example: In the 2018 campaign for NYS Governor our average social media videos would reach twenty to thirty thousand viewers. Today, we are lucky to have two thousand viewers because social media has lumped Libertarianism in with the anti-vaccine misinformation contingent. Even questioning mask and vaccine mandates puts people like me “outside the algorithm,” aka “shadow-banned.”
Sharpe points out that while he is certainly against any government mandate, as all Libertarians are, he isn’t anti-vaccination or anti-mask. That hasn’t stopped the mainstream media from marginalizing his campaign.
Besides being on the downside of the ever-powerful social media world, Sharpe points to a sudden change in the New York State political game.
“This is our last election, our last best chance to save New York State from political and economic disaster. The ruling political party has changed the rules making it extremely difficult to even get on the ballot,” explained Sharpe.
He explains that law created since the last general election have more than doubled the number of signatures required to 45,000, just get on the ballot. The same new laws have limited the time that potential candidates have to obtain the required signatures down to a six week window. According to Sharpe, the deck is being stacked like never before, especially against those who don’t play the DNC vs. GOP game.
Sharpe’s doesn’t hesitate to call the situation desperate and believes that without intervention in this election cycle, “only millionaires and billionaires will be able to run for office.” His efforts to intervene have gone back to the local level, like doing interviews with the Wellsville Sun instead of spending resources on social media.
Legalizing cannabis in NYS
Sharpe is not happy with how New York has rolled out the green carpet. He, like most libertarians, do not think that the government should be involved in a natural industry. “Cannabis farmers should be regulated like onion farmers.” Sharpe believes that the social equity components, allowing residents to grow at home, and making the market accessible to everyone is just window dressing.
“We are not legalizing, we are corporatizing and creating more cronyism. The Office of Cannabis Management is only being created to protect corporate interests and the ruling class cronies. Cannabis has never caused a death and it provides millions with safe pain relief. Why do we need to legalize that and manage that and tax that anymore than we do onions ? All that the state is doing is creating more laws and regulations to enforce and those laws will favor the corporate cronies.”
Larry’s “BRO” plan
With the deck stacked against him, Sharpe and his team are crafting policy that will improve the state but also change the way the political game is played. His “BRO” plan stands for: Ballot Access, Rank Choice Voting, and Open Primaries; each strategy is designed to confront the two party stranglehold, corrupt gerrymandering, and give voters more power at the ballot. Here is a look at each element of the plan:
Ballot Access: As Sharpe explained, it has become dangerously difficult for a third party candidate to even get on the ballot in NYS. Larry’s attempt to enter the gubernatorial race for this election is a prime example. Compared to his 2018 run, Larry will be forced acquire 45,000 signatures and only have a few months to gather them. Limiting access to the ballot only limits the choices that voters have.
“What harm does more candidates on the ballot cause the voter? Why don’t we want more candidates? Because it threatens the ruling political parties. We need more candidates, more parties, and we need to scare the two party system.”
Rank Choice Voting: The last New York City election was conducted by rank choice voting. If you are not familiar with rank choice, here is the wiki definition: “Ranked voting, is a voting system in which voters rank their candidates (or option) in a sequence of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. The many electoral systems that use ranked voting use one of the many available counting methods to select the winning candidate or candidates.” Sharpe explains that this system provides voters with more power, “It provides the ability to cast a defensive vote, rank choice makes the voter more powerful and why not?”
Open Primary Elections: According to the gospel of Larry Sharpe, “open primaries are the only solution to gerrymandering.” The subject comes at a time in NYS politics, where some say, the worst gerrymandering in history has taken place. So bad in fact that a state judge has been deemed responsible for making the final decision on the updated voting districts. Opening up the primary elections to all voters takes power from the two party system and puts it back into the voters hands, “no more voting for the lesser of two evils,” says Sharpe.
The Bills new stadium deal
“What a terrible idea, it boils down to every New Yorker handing over about $30 a year to a bunch of billionaires. The team, the owners, the NFL are all billionaires who could have easily built themselves a new stadium. Somehow, many sports stadiums get built across the country without public money.”
Sharpe went further to point out that the reason NYS is handing over billions of dollars to billionaires to build a billion dollar facility is because it is not a good investment. “If this was a good investment, the New York City investment bankers would be in Buffalo offering to fund the project. I’ve never heard of a good investment that required taxpayer subsidies.”
Rethinking NYS finance
The Sharpe campaign is working on some pretty interesting new policy, which he said is modeled after how some European state level governments have lifted property tax burdens from county level government. Larry refers to the idea as the NYSST, or New York State Social Trust. Sharpe and his policy team are still fine tuning the idea before going public. The idea, at its core could be transformational for small counties like Allegany and Steuben who suffer some of the highest per-capita tax burdens in the nation. Look for a comprehensive reporting on that plan and details from Larry on this site in the near future.
Why are people leaving NYS ?
Our conversation ended on a bigger picture subject, a look at the clear differences between New York and Florida. Two states with very large populations and totally different governments.
“Florida actually has more people, half the state budget, and no income tax. People are leaving NY for states like Florida because of that reality.”
Sharpe points out that families and businesses are leaving because of self-interest, they can see the writing on the wall. The data from the last US census clearly supports the point Larry is making, New Yorkers are leaving in droves.
Two enlistments in the US Marine Corp
Sharpe has served his nation in the military, serving both abroad and domestically. In his eight years in the Marine Corp, Larry’s experience varied from infantry to artillery to the Marine Air Support Squadron 2. He also served in the 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, and was stationed Ft. Belvoir in Virginia before being stationed in multiple Asian nations.
Learn more about Larry Sharpe
Read more on his policy platform, connect with his campaign to donate or join this team!