Richard Davis, a Hurlock dentist who ran as a Libertarian candidate in the 1st District, received 8,632 votes, more than four times the 2,154 vote difference that currently separates Democratic winner Frank Kratovil and defeated Republican state Sen. Andy Harris.
That raises the distinct possibility that if Davis were not in the race, Harris could have won. But Davis dismisses the notion that he was a spoiler. "My hope is that as least as many people will see me as [the campaign's] conscience," he said in a letter to newspaper editors that he mailed on Sunday, two days before Harris conceded and Kratovil declared victory.
Here's the full text of Davis's letter:
"As the vote count continues in the First Congressional District race, I have had an increasing number of comments and questions about whether I see myself as a 'spoiler.' As it currently appears likely that I will end with far more votes than the difference between the two major party candidates, this is a reasonable question. When I agreed to enter this race, I understood there was a good chance it would be a close one, and there have been races in other states in recent years where Libertarian candidates have received more votes than the difference between Republican and Democratic candidates, and have thus been seen by many as spoilers.
All this is beside the point. I entered this race knowing full well that I was the longest of long shots as a third party candidate. All the same, I resolved to enter because I felt I had some ideas to offer to this district that neither of the other parties offered."
"Let me make it clear for the record that I have no significant preference for either of my opponents, and my hopes and prayers go with both, especially with whichever is declared the winner. It may well be, as has been said, that Dr. Harris holds many views compatible with libertarian principles, although the Iraq war is an obvious exception. It may well be that Mr. Kratovil is more conservative than the bulk of the current Democratic Party. Nevertheless, both major parties are currently controlled by leaders who work for ever-expanding government programs with massive federal spending and continued meddling in the affairs of countries around the world, whatever rhetoric they may employ to the contrary. I fear that neither candidate can be expected to have much influence in shifting these senior leaders toward more freedom, less government spending, and limited Constitutional government.
I entered this race a s a means of showing the people of this district that there are other choices available. I was particularly glad to be invited to the debates where I could meet the candidates face to face, so both they and the voters could see that I was not just a name on a ballot taking votes away from one of the major parties.
I understood from the start that I could not compete with the major parties at fundraising and media coverage (though the local media have been quite fair in this regard, which I’ve been given to understand is relatively uncommon around the country, so let me publicly thank them here). On reflection (and against the advice of several others) I decided on principle to do no fund-raising at all. I believe elections should be about ideas, not about money raised and spent for ads, yard signs, bumper stickers and such. After the $100 filing fee, I may have spent another $200 on postage, paper, copying and gas for travel. With more experience I might have budgeted more time and money for travel to get word of my ideas out, but I was pleasantly surprised at how much I was able to accomplish with my letters to editors of newspapers.
If media reports are accurate, my opponents between them apparently spent something over $4 million, yet the most frequent comments I heard from voters concerned how fed up they were with the nastiness of the ads and how little they actually addressed any real issues, focusing almost exclusively on the opposing major party candidate. Talking to both of them before and after the debates, they both seemed pleasant and polite enough, so maybe the issue is with their campaign staffs. In any case, it appears that the ads will have worked for one of them, so some of the blame must go to the voters who responded to those ads. All the same I have to wonder how we’re any better off for that four million dollars worth of ads, mailers, yard signs and bumper stickers.
Shortly we should have the final results and one of the two, Dr. Harris or Mr. Kratovil, will have won a very narrow victory. I may continue to be seem as the spoiler for this campaign, but my hope is that as least as many people will see me as its conscience."