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Mike Munger: third party, but not a third wheel

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Click for larger image • Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Mike chairs the political science department at Duke University. - PHOTO BY D.L. ANDERSON

On his first day as governor, Libertarian Party candidate Mike Munger says he'd declare a moratorium on capital punishment and commute the sentence of every Death Row inmate to life without possibility of parole. "The state should not be able to murder a helpless, unarmed person who is entirely in its power," Munger says. "This is not self-defense ... I would stop the killing."

Munger concedes he won't be the next governor; Bev Perdue or Pat McCrory will. But he is "the liberal candidate in the race," he says, and people shouldn't shy away from him for fear of wasting their vote. "You only have one vote," Munger says. "Why waste it on the lesser of two evils? You have one chance to send a signal to the establishment in Raleigh that you are not satisfied with the choices" offered by the Democrats and Republicans.

Munger, a former Republican and a staffer at the U.S. Fair Trade Commission in the first Reagan administration, now chairs the political science department at Duke University. There, he says, laughing, "I work across the aisles—there aren't a lot of other Libertarians there, you know."

Despite Perdue's and McCrory's pledges to go after corruption in Raleigh, Munger says he would be more effective at rooting it out. "She [Perdue] has not the desire. He [McCrory] has not the capacity."

Munger stands to the left of both major-party candidates on a host of issues. He's pro-gay marriage. "I am for the rights of gay North Carolinians to participate fully as citizens."

On immigration, Munger favors "a high wall and a wide gate." The country should do all it can to keep illegals out, he says, but if they get in, they should be accorded basic human rights, and their children should be educated.

Otherwise, Munger says, "we are creating an apartheid system with fertile pickings for gang recruitment and exploitation by unscrupulous employers."

Munger's for shrinking government, cutting taxes and curbing regulations on private activity. But he would create $1,500 education vouchers for low-income kids in the poorest 40 counties and allow them to be used in public or private schools. The effect would be to channel more school aid into the public system where it's needed most, he argues, since most kids would remain in it.

Munger supports decriminalizing drug possession, though not legalizing drugs. He is for allowing public employees to unionize and bargain collectively. He opposes the lottery, wants to cut regressive taxes and make the income tax more progressive. He's against subsidizing more urban roads ("If we stopped, we'd have more density and transit."), but would pay for rural highways as a lifeline to economic development.

The Libertarian Party is back on the North Carolina ballot this year after collecting the required 70,000 valid voter signatures on petitions. Former Georgia Rep. Bob Barr is the presidential candidate. Munger leads a statewide slate of 25 candidates.

To maintain their official party status, the Libertarians must receive 2 percent of the vote; otherwise, they'll be decertified again, as they were in 2005, and forced to repeat the time-consuming and expensive petition-gathering process.

Munger's goal is to receive 5 percent to 6 percent of the vote: "This is not about me. The point is, you need more choices on the ballot."

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