Florida’s governor race is set to be one of the most watched this election season. The two front runners, Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Democrat Charlie Crist, have both served as governors. Despite the close poll numbers, one third party candidate is trying to get his name out there. Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is making the case to Floridians that he should be the state’s next governor.
I spoke with Wyllie to discuss the issues third party candidates face with polling and debates.
Andy Gonzalez: You were included in one poll. Why were you included in that poll when most third party candidates aren’t and how did you do?
Adrian Wyllie: Well, that poll was actually back in August  and I don’t know why the editors of that particular poll decided to include my name and other pollsters have not, but I polled at 9%. However, since that time we have been doing some internal polling and my numbers have grown considerably since then.
Do you know why you weren’t included in other polls?
Wyllie: There’s a few different schools of thought on that. The first is that the pollsters are so used to, it’s always the Republicans or the Democrats, not third party is going to do anything, and they still fall into that mindset, the old paradigm of politics, so they legitimately think that no third party is ever a viable candidate. That’s one school of thought. Now, another school of thought is that because third party candidates don’t spend nearly enough money on media advertising, that’s one of the reasons the media doesn’t care. Now, most of the pollsters, most of the polls that you see reported on are usually commissioned by a media organization. So they’re the ones contacting the pollsters saying, “We want to commission a poll and here is our criteria and here’s the candidates we want to poll.” So the argument is that because the mainstream media doesn’t have a commercial interest in third party candidates, meaning they’re not going to buy a ton of TV, print, and radio ads that they don’t include them in the polls. Now, [on January 29, 2014] I was actually in Tallahassee for an Associated Press conference which also included Governor Rick Scott and Democratic front runner Charlie Crist. I was included in that press conference, I spoke immediately after Charlie Crist but as soon as I got up to speak, about two-thirds of the reporters left the room. So it’s almost as if there’s a certain arrogance in the media, as if they’re attitude is, “We get to decide who gets to be a candidate and who doesn’t.” At this point in time, they’re trying to make the case for not letting Libertarians be seen by the public as a viable candidate. But they’re failing, because the grassroots is so active now, especially in Florida.
I’ve always understood Florida to be a not very big libertarian or grassroots state.
Wyllie: Quite on the contrary. We are a huge libertarian state and the grassroots here, the libertarian effort here is just phenomenal right now. My campaign alone has over a thousand active volunteers and they’re working all parts of the state right now and that number is growing everyday. We have a phenomenal grassroots effort going on here. Lucas Overby’s [Libertarian candidate for FL Congressional District 13] campaign has a ton of committed volunteers. It’s really working down here. And it has been a relatively recent phenomenon here in Florida, but I can tell you, people are so disgusted with Republicans and Democrats that they’re flocking to the party in droves. Membership in the Libertarian Party of Florida has grown by 1800% in the past two and a half years.
Right now, with your campaigning, what work are you doing to get included into debates and polls?
Wyllie: Well, the media sets the criteria for who’s included into the debates. The Florida Press Association, which is basically an association of all the newspaper editors and news editors, and television stations around the state, they set the criteria that they would only invite candidates that reach at least 15% in the Mason-Dixon polls. It has to be a Mason-Dixon poll. So that is the criteria that they have set and that is the criteria that we are working so hard to reach. The first hurdle is making sure my name gets included in the poll and then after that it’s to insure that we’re up above 15%. But we believe even at this point right now, we’re probably above 15% in the polls.
Let’s say you get into the debates, how well do you think you’ll do and do you think your support will be enough to win?
Wyllie: I think that if I can get into the debates, I have a very good chance of winning. I think it’s a very legitimate chance of winning, because the Libertarian message is really what most people believe, it’s really core American values of keep government out of my wallet, my bedroom, and my business. That’s really what people are looking for. Most people, I believe the majority of people, just want to be left alone to live their lives and that’s what the Libertarian Party is offering. So really, we don’t have to change our message in any way. All we have to do is reach the people, let them know that there is a political party that shares their values, and I think that we can start winning elections left and right all across the country.
For more information about Adrian Wyllie, visit his website: WyllieforGovernor.com