While they may be on opposite sides of the political spectrum, Green Party candidate for governor Ian Schlakman and Libertarian nominee Shawn Quinn have one thing in common – that the state’s two-party system is rigged against them.
Schlakman and Quinn both share a similar goal – to challenge people’s assumptions about the two main candidates running for governor and to introduce people to new ideas.
Believe Ben Jealous is a progressive, running to make Maryland economically just, or that Gov. Larry Hogan is a small-government conservative that wants to cut taxes? Depending on whether you ask Schlakman or Quinn, neither is true, and neither Hogan or Jealous are sufficiently ideologically pure as they both say they are.
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“I don’t think the policies that are being proposed by Democrats or Republicans make any sense for Montgomery County, I think the proof is sort of in the pudding,” Schlakman said.
Schlakman is a technology and cyber entrepreneur from Baltimore, who said he is running in hopes to preserve the Green Party’s ballot access in the state.
Schlakman, who has unsuccessfully run for Baltimore City Council in 2016, and is running for governor with the Green Party’s only elected official Annie Chambers, who serves on Baltimore’s Resident Advisory Board.
For Schlakman, success in the general election in November is getting at least one percent of the vote, which would guarantee ballot access for his party. However, the one percent threshold may be a challenge for Schlakman as the last Green Party candidate to run for governor, Maria Allwine, only won .64 percent of the vote when she ran in 2010.
For Schlakman, it is a frustrating process, saying the state’s laws unfairly favor Democrats and Republicans at the expense of third parties like his, requiring that they run candidates to obtain ballot access, while Democrats and Republicans are automatically granted that privilege.
But vote totals are not Schlakman’s only goal, he said he wants to grow the Green Party and to introduce people to new ideas, like his plan to implement a universal basic income for the state, which would guarantee every Marylander a monthly wage from the government funded by a tax increase on the state’s top one-percent wealthiest residents.
“When I look at what’s going in Baltimore City, the shocking amount of generational poverty, one of the fastest and most efficient solutions is to have a universal basic income,” Schlakman said.
While Democratic candidate Ben Jealous has proposed several progressive ideas such as a single-payer healthcare system for the state, free tuition for Maryland’s community colleges, legalization of marijuana and reform to the criminal justice system, Jealous is not left-leaning enough for Schlakman,
Unlike Jealous, Schlakman embraces the label of “socialist” saying he found it insulting that Jealous would use an obscenity, when denying that he is one after a reporter asked him if identified with the label at all. Schlakman said the term “socialist” has become an attempt to make voters afraid to vote for a left-wing candidate.
“Part of the misnomer is that we are proposing the same things; if you look Ben’s policies, you will see we’re not supporting the same things at all,” Schlakman said.
Like Schlakman, Quinn does not have time for his either of the major party candidates. While Hogan has become one of the most popular governors in the country, on a platform that consists in part of cutting taxes, Quinn said Hogan is not really the small-government governor he says he is.
“I don’t think he’s a conservative; I think he’s Democrat wearing a Republican sweater,” Quinn said of Hogan.
Quinn, a 20-year U.S. Navy veteran, previously ran as the libertarian candidate for governor in 2014. And while Quinn won 1.46 percent of the vote in 2014, an impressive feat for a third-party candidate in Maryland, Quinn has his eyes on the governor’s mansion, saying he plans on becoming Maryland’s next governor.
For Quinn, Hogan is a disappointment on many issues, especially on gun issues.
Quinn said he wants to overturn a number of the state’s gun control laws, including a recently-passed ban on bump stocks, and the “red flag” law that allows a family member or friend alert authorize and to seize guns from someone who is potentially dangerous. Quinn said both of these recently-passed laws are a violation of citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
While Quinn concedes that it is unlikely he would get a repeal bill through the Democratically-held General Assembly, he would pursue legal challenges in hopes the U.S. Supreme Court would overturn the state’s gun control laws.
In addition, to his strong pro-gun stances, Quinn is running on several other Libertarian issues for this state, such as the legalization of marijuana, school choice and to lower the state’s income tax.
And while Hogan has a reputation as a tax-cutting Republican among many voters in the state, Quinn said that is a false narrative built by the millions of dollars the Hogan campaign has to spend.
Quinn said his message to voters is simple, to look past his party affiliation and to vote your conscience.
“They have the power and the control as long as they can marginalize a third party; then a third party is considered insignificant,” Quinn said.