The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday March 20th

View from the Hill

Libertarian Senate candidate Sean Haugh gets unexpected help from blunt ads

It’s tough running as a Libertarian political candidate in the United States.

The plurality system hurts the chances of third-party candidates, and they rarely receive the financial support major parties enjoy.

That is why it is surprising to see ads popping up on Twitter and other outlets supporting North Carolina’s Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate, Sean Haugh.

The American Futures Fund, a conservative advocacy group, started running $225,000 worth of ads targeting younger voters with blunt messaging, including “Get Haugh, get high” and “More weed, less war.”

The ads are noticeably campy, with young people holding the cutout signs and cheesy camera work throughout.

The ads came as a surprise to Haugh, who has spent most of his time campaigning on YouTube instead of TV or print.

Though Haugh clearly welcomes more awareness of his Libertarian platform, the ads appear to have an ulterior motive, as some of the group's other spots are critical of Sen. Kay Hagan, yet none mention Republican candidate Thom Tillis.

In one ad, a woman rhetorically asks, “Does Kay Hagan support progressive values?” Others paint Hagan as “pro-war” and “out of touch.”

The reason these ads are getting a cynical glace from observers is because Tillis’s positions on military use is also different from Haugh’s. Tillis hasn't taken a stance on marijuana legalization.

To not run ads critical of Tillis might seem like a missed opportunity, unless the group is looking to draw votes away from Hagan to help Tillis erase a slim deficit according to public opinion polls.

Libertarians often feature a mix of free-market economic principles with progressive views on social issues such as drug legalization and same-sex marriage.

The party's candidates often pull votes from both Democrats and Republicans, though they are often unsuccessful unless they align themselves with one of the two major parties — such as Texas Libertarian Ron Paul, who has twice run for the Republican presidential nomination.

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