Rand Paul urges libertarians to vote for Cuccinelli, not Sarvis

FILE - In this March 7, 2013 file photo, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. talks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington. Tea Party favorite Paul releases a speech endorsing giving illegal immigrants a shot at citizenship, but then backtracks from the position and offers shifting explanations, illustrating the political explosiveness of the issue within a Republican party eager to reach out to Hispanic voters. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File) ORG XMIT: WX104

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., on Thursday urged Virginia Republicans supporting Robert C. Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for governor, to come home to the GOP and vote for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the party’s nominee.

“I consider myself to be a libertarian conservative, a libertarian Republican,” Paul said in a phone interview Thursday. “A lot of things (Cuccinelli) talks about are free-market, limited-government, leave-me-alone government. I think there is a lot to like there.

“What I’m excited about in Ken Cuccinelli is that he is smart, he is articulate, and he has a keen sense of justice,” Paul said. Cuccinelli’s attempt to challenge the Affordable Care Act in court was “one of the things that catapulted a nationwide debate over the constitutionality of the health care law,” he said.

Paul, a potential Republican presidential contender for 2016, will campaign with Cuccinelli in Fairfax County and Virginia Beach next week. His visit to the state comes as the attorney general faces headwinds from members of his own party who have defected to Sarvis.

In a recent Quinnipiac University poll, Cuccinelli had the support of 81 percent of Republicans, but 11 percent back Sarvis — votes that Cuccinelli likely will need Nov. 5 as he trails Democrat Terry McAuliffe in several polls.

Paul said he understands the struggle of third-party politics, but he asked Sarvis sympathizers to consider the consequences of their vote because libertarians are unlikely to change the course of politics.

“I know that they want what they want. But in the end, if you back a third party, you might help out the Democrats, and barring some dramatic transformation in our country, we’re probably still going to have two dominant parties and smaller third parties,” Paul said.

“My advice is, look at how you really can best transform things in this country, and the best way to shape politics in this country. I really think it is through the two-party system, for better or worse,” he said.

Once voters realize that Sarvis isn’t going to win, they should decide if Cuccinelli is more to their liking than McAuliffe and vote for the Republican, Paul said.

“They could help get Ken Cuccinelli across the finish line,” he said.

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Twitter: @MSchmidtRTD

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