Candidate for the LPNC Governor Nomination
I have made the case to you, North Carolina, many times, as to why I should be your next governor. I have met you face-to-face, through video, in debate, and out doing the work fighting for Liberty.
The place I have met you that means the most to me is when we are standing together fighting against the overreach of the state and the oppression it inevitably brings against those who defy it or refuse to comply with the morality it wants to enforce.
Over the last few years, I have led the charge seeking Justice for Joshua, pushing back against Gastonia cops who abused their power, assaulted homeless war veteran Joshua Rohrer - resulting in the death of his service dog. I kept showing up, at every rally and city council meeting, while the city fought to keep the body camera footage hidden for nine months until it could no longer affect the outcome of the trial. And I kept showing up after that, demanding accountability for the clear crimes and abuses of power shown on the body camera video.
At the same time, the City of Gastonia leveraged the weapons at its disposal and shut down Pastor Moses Colbert's church where he let homeless people shelter and eat. Rohrer was one of the human beings who Pastor Moses was helping. When Pastor Moses spoke out against the police violence Joshua suffered, the city shut his ministry down, citing fire and safety violations. In the three years that Pastor Moses had been giving people shelter, no one had died on the streets of Gastonia from exposure. In the three winter months after the city shut him down, more than thirty people died on the streets.
Over the last three years, the LPNC has covered the actions of the City of Gastonia and Pastor Moses's fight against them in detail, but eventually, despite all of our attempts to comply with increasingly ridiculous requirements and demands from the city, the accrued fines were too much, and Pastor Moses was forced to shut down the shelter part of his ministry and consider a new approach. In a development that should surprise exactly no one, those people once again were out on the streets with no where to go.
Despite their victory, the city is not content with turning people out on the streets to freeze to death. Apparently, they want to continue attacking Pastor Moses as he looks for ways, like overnight services, to help the most vulnerable avoid the frigid temperatures.
The fire marshal has made several demands of Pastor Moses, all of them expensive, unnecessary, and authoritarian, doubling down on a city policy that is anti-homeless and unwilling to tolerate dissent or challenges to its power. Unfortunately, this is a legacy that has followed the City of Gastonia for decades.
The city did note that it has the Salvation Army as a resource, which can hold 64 people, four of whom can be men, according to the WSPA Spartanburg story linked above. There are estimated to be about 200 homeless people in Gastonia, and Pastor Moses had capacity for all of them.
I say to you, North Carolina, it's time we say "no more!" I will lead the fight for Liberty, and make sure no one is criminalized for helping fellow humans, starting in Gastonia, and on through the rest of our beautiful state.
We have two debates coming up, with details listed in this newsletter, as well as a speaking opportunity at the WakeLP convention. I hope you all take the chance to listen and get to know me, as I continue to share my vision for a free and prosperous North Carolina and my plan to get us there.
And I also hope you are moved by Pastor Moses and his ministry, and can give a little something to help him.
I can't wait to meet the rest of you and be your champion for Liberty.
Candidate for North Carolina State Auditor
Get to know Bob Drach better.
Very nice to meet you all. I am Bob Drach, and I am your best choice for North Carolina's State Auditor. A former Certified Management Accountant, I know financial reporting, information systems and organizational leadership.
The State Auditor protects the citizens of North Carolina from abuses of power and instances of incompetence that unfortunately happen in government. Because the government is dominated by Republicans and Democrats, it would be unwise to have a Republican or a Democrat as the Auditor. (Unwise, as in a conflict of interest, the fox guarding the henhouse, and generally a bad idea. Major party voters who care about the integrity of the office can admit as much and should vote for me, while I am the clear choice for unaffiliated and third-party voters.)
I am a certified management accountant and former Treasurer, CFO, and CIO. I have earned multiple other professional certifications and taught in public schools. I am uniquely both a former Peace Corps volunteer and graduate of a highly competitive MBA program.
Throughout my career, I have exemplified the character, honesty, and diligence which make good organizations great. This is important right now for the Office of the State Auditor, rocked by the resignation of the prior elected auditor under a cloud of disgrace and with the unelected incumbent installed by the state political machine.
As the State Auditor, I will focus on retaining the excellent audit staff while recruiting additional talent. Continuity on key investigations is critical, while also emphasizing performance metrics that highlight both transparency and activity.
2024 Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Congress in NC’s 10th congressional district
We live in great times.
In many ways, we live in the best of times in human history, but it doesn’t always seem that way. In our culture, particularly among the major political parties, there’s a strong tendency to denigrate the motivations of the other, feeding an angry culture that leads, I believe, to discontent, conflict, and violence (and perhaps even to reduced life expectancy). We Libertarians tend to be more objective and can see that those who disagree with us are well meaning, too, but we are not totally immune to the siren song of denigrating others.
A recent update touting Libertarians’ effort to defend our rights said, “The Uniparty serves its deep-pocketed masters, with no regard for suffering or death they cause as a result.” We shouldn’t be contributing to the culture of hostility with comments like this. People who are in other parties care deeply about all our citizens and about the people suffering in other countries. People in other parties just have different policy ideas about what will bring peace and security for all. I believe that Libertarian policies, rooted in respect for the individual rights of all and supporting peaceful means to achieve peace, are far more promising than the idea that inflicting violence on others will be the best means to achieve peace. However, I’m confident that everyone is well meaning (even and perhaps especially the most hawkish) and desires peace for themselves, for their children, and for others.
Instead of denigrating others and instead of trying to use force to bring about peace, I support taking Jefferson’s approach to relationships with others, both here at home and abroad: peace, commerce, and honest friendship.
by Shannon Bray
Candidate for the LPNC Governor Nomination
I believe the vast majority of North Carolinians are fed up with the juvenile performance art politics that many establishment party candidates engage in. I intend to address the issues that concern and affect our fellow citizens the most—the economy, education, healthcare, and electoral reform—in a civil and positive manner, without insulting my opponents (or their supporters).
The Economy. The way that individuals and businesses participate in our economy is strongly directed by taxation and regulation. To create the jobs and businesses of tomorrow, we must cut back on over-regulation and minimize taxation to encourage an innovative economic climate today.
Education. Giving students, families, and teachers greater choice is the best path to building successful lives, developing better learning environments, strengthening communities, and preparing North Carolina for the challenges ahead.
Healthcare. Healthcare options are a critical aspect of everyone’s life. To promote a healthcare system that achieves better outcomes, reaches more people, and makes care more affordable we must avoid government overreach.
Electoral Reform. We need to reduce the intrusion of partisan politics into government affairs and make government at all levels more responsive to individual citizens. The single most effective thing we can do here is to take redistricting out of the hands of politicians—who for decades have been picking their own voters—and create an independent, non-partisan commission responsible for implementing the perfectly sound principles already enshrined in our state constitution. But I would also work to achieve fairness for independent voters—who despite outnumbering both Democrats and Republicans, are barred from serving on the Boards of Elections. And I would propose to enable municipalities and counties—where currently it is possible for a candidate whom 70 percent of voters reject to be elected—to utilize Instant Runoff Voting, thus ensuring that no one is elected without a majority of votes cast.
by: Justin Herbe, Fayetteville City Council District 5 Candidate
Recent publicity around negative police encounters has led to dramatically increased scrutiny of police departments in the U.S. That scrutiny has forced change in the way Policing is conducted. We need change, but not always. Since this increased scrutiny has occurred the Police Force garners little to no respect from the community while trying to improve with an Officer population that is young, inexperienced, and inundated with paperwork. Fayetteville needs non-biased law enforcement, and in order to accomplish this, the city needs Officers on the streets…Veteran Officers, not just Rookies straight out of the Police Academy.
I volunteered for a Police Ride Along so I could experience firsthand the situations that Officers and the Community deal with on a daily basis. I had some pre-conceived notions of racial profiling, targeting homeless, and some big gruff bullying and intimidating Officers in my mind before I signed up, and I wanted to see if those ideas held weight or if our Police Force was non-biased and racially blind like they say they are.
The night started out with foreboding thunder clouds moving towards the sector that we would be patrolling. The Central District encompasses a large area in the middle of the city, known for drugs, guns, and prostitution. It runs from Bonnie Doone in the North abutting Ft. Liberty, west to Skibo rd., heading east and south into Murray Hill, Haymount, and farther south into Douglas Byrd and Lakedale.
The first stop was a triggered building alarm. By the time we arrived, the rain clouds were directly above us and it began to pour. We were drenched within seconds and began searching the perimeter of the building and determined it had probably been a weather-related issue that caused the alarm to get triggered. We searched high and low for any points of entry or broken windows and none were found. We jumped back into the squad car, turned off the A/C because being wet it quickly got cold. I was really hoping the entire night would not be like this.
Throughout the storm we continued the street patrol where we scanned license plates, checked registrations, and validated current driver’s licenses all from the comfort of the vehicle using the hood mounted cameras. While driving on Raeford Rd., we noticed a car driving with its lights out. The Officer turned his car around, began following the car into Haymount, scanned the license plates, noticed they were expired, and flashed the lights. He stopped the car, approached the driver, politely asked for her license, returned to his vehicle and ran the license through the computer systems. She already had a ticket for the registration and a court date so he decided not to give her another one, which would have compounded the bad situation, and he also decided just to give a warning for the headlights being off. The Officer told me he usually gives warnings for nearly all minor infractions. But this warning began what I will call a paper trail of documents throughout the night that will engulf the quiet moments in-between calls. The Officer will quite possibly miss opportunities where positive engagements could have been conducted. The traffic stop report was the easiest report of all to fill out but still took 10-15 minutes.
We drove around a little more and found some unsheltered individuals hanging around an abandoned Circle K. We pulled up, exited our vehicle, and began talking to the individuals. The three individuals who were standing there looked like they were living outside, and carrying everything that belonged to them. The Officer told them about the Day Resource Center that was now open at 128 King St., they were excited to hear this because they had not known about it. They even asked if there were any counseling services available at the Center. The conversation was amicable, I got to hear more about the homeless situation, and they learned about the resources at the Day Center. It lasted about 15 minutes, but the paperwork took nearly twice that. One field contact sheet for each individual that he spoke with took 10 minutes to write out and link the individuals’ names together in the system. We reviewed their rap sheets and saw a long history of arrests, some more serious than others. It was concerning because I sympathized with them and could tell they needed help, but I did not know what kind of help they really needed. Drug counseling, maybe mental health counseling, just somewhere to go to get out of the rain would have easily helped them. But the Police are not a taxi service, nor do I want them to be.
We began the patrol again by driving through the back side of Wal-mart maybe trying to make another positive engagement where we could let more homeless know about the Day Resource Center and what it offers. The situation changed quickly…as we came from behind Wal-Mart, City Dispatch alerted us that there was a 9-1-1 call coming from the Wal-Mart parking lot. She said that a man called asking for help, that he was being chased by five individuals wearing hooded sweatshirts and armed with guns. The Police Officer, knowing I had previous military experience, had told me early this night that if there was ever a reason I might need to assist and get involved to do so. I acted like it was no big deal and said I could help out, but this wasn’t what I had in mind!!!
As we were searching for the store that the individual was being chased from, the individual actually saw us first and ran up to our car. He looked petrified, literally fearing for his life… I was wishing I had chosen to conduct a ride with somebody else that had backup or maybe another way to interdict like a K-9 unit before it coming down to a shoot-out in the O-K Corral. The Officer stepped out and asked the man if he was ok. He replied he was not… he was scared, and needed help. Obviously he needed help! He wanted protection because people were after him. The Officer spoke with him, let him know he was safe now. Nobody was chasing him, and he would be protected. The individual put himself on his cellphone microphone, speaking with his daughters who were crying for their father.
A minute had passed and we had not found the men chasing him; another Officer arrived as back up and began towering over the individual. I was in shock and I thought to myself, “why are we not searching for the men who were chasing him?” These Officers are clearly misidentifying the issue at hand! Another minute goes by, the man is still on the phone with his kids while trying to talk to the Officers, he is scared, I am scared, he thinks his life is in danger, and I do too. He keeps pointing out the individuals who were chasing him, I look over there and see the men, yet the Officers refuse to chase down these people. The Police motto is Serve and Protect, why in this moment are we not doing that?
Trying to regain control of the situation, the Officer who I was riding along with, asks the man for his I.D. I do not know what he is trying to do, what on God’s green earth do you need someone’s I.D. for at this moment in time? He must really want to run his driver’s license and do more paperwork. Come on now, we have bad guys to catch! The guy refuses to comply, he says he has no I.D. and he is not from around here. Sounds legitimate to me, I believe the best course of action is to at least take him somewhere safe, drive him someplace away from the danger. The situation is getting tenser, I hear the girls on the phone screaming, the man is being questioned all the while, quite literally he was the one that called 9-1-1!
The man has a black bag sitting beside himself on the curb, the Officer asks what’s inside the black bag and demands to see some I.D. The man pauses, looks at the bag, and reaches in. Within that moment… I consider my surroundings, there are 2 Officers within 3 feet of this man and myself another 2 feet away. I am sure if he pulls a gun out, he is going down no question, but he will get one of us as well. Looks like this is going to be my first and last public ride along with the Cops.
He reached in… and out came his brown wallet along with a bag of cocaine. We all saw it together at the same instance, the wallet flopped on the ground dropping loose change, dollar bills, and the drugs. He was handcuffed within an instant and placed under arrest. The Officers grabbed his black bag, placed it on the trunk of the car and pulled out 16 grams of Marijuana, 2 grams of cocaine, 1 crack rock, and a broken homemade zip gun that had already been used. My instincts had failed me…the Officer’s instincts had saved them.
We drove the individual to the County Jail and arrived at 8:08 PM, where we spent the majority of the rest of the night. It took three grueling hours to process the arrest in total. The incident report, and arrest report, probable cause affidavit, magistrate’s order, two intake forms, and two sets of pictures, one for the Warrant’s server and other a mugshot for the jail all needed to be completed. We left the Sherriff’s at 10:16 but we were not finished yet, we still had to drive to the Police Department in order to weigh and submit the evidence. But of course, each piece of evidence needs to be tagged and marked. The forms to fill out are just as exhausting, evidence voucher and tags, drug test request, and a felony investigation report for the District Attorney. The pain ended at 11 PM, nearly three hours to the minute after the arrival at the Sherriff’s. Let’s not forget to mention the other Officer involved, who most likely had to fill out his own incident report and collect the individual’s property and take it to the Police Station for safekeeping until his release.
Our current Police Department is understaffed by 52 Officers. The Officer I rode along with had a graduating class of 12 from the Police Academy back in January of 2022. Only six remain. They have gone to other towns, where the workload is easier, pay is greater, and their life is not in danger every single day. Daily, when running my City Council campaign, I’ve been telling people we must increase the Police Officer’s pay at least 30 percent, otherwise our Force will quickly look like those in Goodhue, Minnesota, or Enfield, NC where the Police Chief resigns because of poor pay and the entire PD follows after leaving the city with no protection.
At the beginning of this shift during their shift change, I gave that same pitch to the entire squad. After I finished what I was saying, they smirked and laughed and said to me, “it’s already happening.” At the end of the night my Officer asked me how much money would it take for me to perform his job? I thought about it for a moment…how much would it take? I thought about it for a second longer and I replied back, “I would never do it.” God bless our Police and First Responders.
Thank You North Carolina
My debate against Shannon went great. We proved that we can civilly disagree about things and acknowledge where we align, and we don’t have to kill each other. I give the people of North Carolina credit for still believing in that possibility.
On July 6, Shannon Bray, who is currently the only other registered Libertarian, and I met at the Faith, Hope and Love Ministry in Gastonia, a place near and dear to me, for the first of what I expect to be several debates leading up to the governor election in 2024. The experience was novel and refreshing, and I want to tell you all about it and acknowledge some people who helped put it together.
Before I get into any of it, I have to thank Shannon. You conducted yourself in a manner that makes me proud to be Libertarian and proud to share the space with you, and debated in a way that should make all Libertarians proud. You were civil, respectful, and sincere, but you didn’t abandon your principles or shy away from difficult issues.
I also have to thank Steven DiFiore. I was happy to hear that Steven would be the moderator. I find you to be an honest and committed Libertarian, and I expected that you would maintain a fair debate, insightful but cordial. You did not disappoint. If we want to show the country that you can run aggressively, on principle, while still remaining connected as humans, steady leadership like yours will be necessary, especially as the party grows and things are more prone to conflict.
The debate itself was nearly flawless. We started a little late, for those paying attention. Quick inside perspective, we had everything else lined up, tested, and working perfectly, and the laptop got ornery at the last minute, and tried to not sign into both YouTube and the recording program at the same time. Our team quickly fixed that, and we were off.
Having a livestreamed debate opens the discussion up to people across the state, Libertarian and other, with easy access and the ability to watch later, when convenient. And the live chat with audience questions got everyone involved, no matter where they were watching. To keep people coming back, we have to execute on things like that, and our team really came through. For that, I want to thank Courtney Conover and my campaign manager, Rob, Nate Seedorf, and everyone else who contributed to bringing equipment, setting up, testing, and keeping the debate running smoothly for everyone joining virtually.
Actually debating in-person, though, creates an environment that is simply impossible to duplicate when we are speaking virtually. I have to thank Brad Hessel for getting Shannon to the debate, and I want to thank all the people in the *studio* audience for coming out to watch and giving the debate an unbelievable vibe.
I am also happy with my performance in the debate. I am not claiming to be the “winner;” I think the people of North Carolina are the only ones who should ever “win” when politicians debate (#FiretheUniparty). Rather, I felt very comfortable in the discussion and I think my responses are reliable reflections of how I would handle being your governor. I hope that I piqued your interest enough to want to learn more. Check out my website, or feel free to reach out directly. I love meeting other Libertarians. For any success I might have had, though, I have to thank my incredible campaign team for the extensive preparation you put into this.
Finally, and I saved the most important one for last, I want to thank Pastor Moses Colbert, Pastor Monica [last name], and everyone at the Faith, Hope, and Love ministry for hosting us so graciously in your building. Pastor Moses, you have been an inspiration to me, more than you know, for the last few years, and it has been an honor and a privilege to serve by your side. Despite the pressure you were under with the City’s draconian and vengeful fines, and the pressure you are always under feeding hungry people and spreading your ministry to those most in need, you found the time and space to let us hold this debate in a truly perfect setting. You have a beautiful family at your church, and I promise, I will never stop fighting to defend it.
I have written previously about events around the state, and all the great people I’ve met and things I’ve seen. This time, staying close to home, with a little help from a lot of great people, proved an excellent reminder to keep my eyes open for greatness everywhere, and always remember who I fight for.
Mike Ross Reflects on the Carthage Buggy Festival
Just a couple weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of attending the Carthage Buggy Festival. I was there meeting Christopher Nance from Moore County, our gracious host affiliate. I was also promoting my campaign, collecting signatures to help another party get ballot access, and spending time listening to the people of North Carolina.
When I started this campaign, I knew it would be long and grueling. I expected both peaks and valleys, and that it would test my endurance as much as anything else. And I assumed that the cost of visiting all 100 counties was going to be exacting.
And yet, now a solid few months into my campaign, I've found the opposite to be true. The people of this state really are what make it exceptional, and each hand I shake and story I hear, everyone who shares in the sorrow they experienced because of some uncaring outcome forced upon them from the government overreach of a faceless bureaucrat, or those who lift my spirits with tales of perseverance and do-it-yourself grit and self-sufficiency... you all are more amazing than you know.
I met one young woman from Carthage born and raised, She was in town for the festival, then headed back to college. She was telling me how she planned on moving back to Carthage when she graduated next year, something she had long promised herself she wouldn't to do. "The more I think about it, the more it just feels like home, if that makes sense," she told me. Believe me, it makes sense.
A town council member and I talked about the town for so long, as he took time out of his day to discuss all the local politics with me. He talked about struggles Carthage has faced and the challenges they faced down. He talked to me about how much he and the town were limited in trying to be effective stewards of Carthage, hampered by heavy handed and broad oversite and restriction from Raleigh.
I'm glad I got to explain my nullification plan. We discussed how, as governor, I would make sure that no municipality would ever be subjugated to the authority of a centralized government entity to their own detriment. I relish opportunities like that, where I can show exactly how my message translates to meaningful, useful change for North Carolinians.
I learned about Carthage, its history, and a little of its folklore. The festival was so much fun for my family and me, and we have already started making plans for next year. I got to connect with a promising, motivated affiliate in a wonderful part of our amazing state.
Carthage, thank you for an amazing day! I left with a smile on my face. Every one of you, every time I meet you, see you, or hear your stories, you reinforce why I am doing this. There are real problems that you have to deal with, exacerbated by a central authority concerned only with its donors and reelection bids. I am different, in a way no uniparty politician has ever been. I am concerned with you and your rights, no exceptions.
I'm doing this so you can live your life in a way that's best for you, with opportunity, good educations, safe streets, and nothing preventing you from chasing your little slice of the American dream, right here in North Carolina. With your support, I'll make sure that, for you, and your kids, and their kids beyond, it just feels like home.
LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross attended a city council meeting in Fayetteville and wrote about his experience for the Tar Heel.
On Tuesday, April 11, I had the great privilege of standing with the passionate people of Fayetteville, NC, as they gathered together against the naked power grab the city council is attempting. When I reference the "uniparty," I mean that elected officials from both parties put their own interests ahead of their constituents', without fail, and Fayetteville's city council is proving no exception. As disheartening, if unsurprising, as it was to see politicians being politicians, the resolve of the Fayetteville citizens who turned up to make their voice heard was exponentially more encouraging.
The issue at hand is a proposal by the Fayetteville City Council to extend the councilmembers two-year terms to staggered four-year terms. The council has moved the proposal forward thus far notwithstanding the fact that a similar proposal was voted down by almost 65 percent of voters in 2018. They are proceeding despite the presence of four new councilmembers on the ten-person body, all of whom have far to go before proving their merits to the voters.
Maybe most concerning, the council has moved the discussion to this stage without a shred of self-awareness, as the same city council voted not to investigate themselves or Mayor Colvin, barely a year ago, in the face of serious allegations of unethical behavior. The accusations came from former Councilwoman Tisha Waddell, who alleged serious impropriety and corruption on the part of the mayor and some council members prior to tendering her resignation in protest.
Seeing elected officials declare to their constituents that they no longer feel that they should face scrutiny and be held accountable for their performance at the previously agreed upon schedule, I find myself asking why more than anything else. The political figures who come to mind in discussion of extended terms – Hitler, Mao, Xi, Putin – are not people with whom any decent person, and certainly not any elected official in the U.S., should seek association.
This is not to say that the Fayetteville council members are despotic tyrants on the same scale as some of the worst people in recent history, and I want to be clear I am not implying that at all. I am simply pointing out that there is no discernable, articulable, rational reason for the council to seek extended terms that isn't completely self-serving, and completely self-serving is a dangerous pathway for politicians to follow.
When we say that power corrupts, we mean it. It's not difficult to believe that the mayor was engaged in shady dealings because he is able do so with very little fear of repercussion. It's just human nature. The entire philisophical bedrock of governance on which our country is built relies on the idea that elected officials are accountable to their constituents. Extending their terms of office is an action diametrically opposed to the principles of a democratic society, and more in line with an entrenched corporate board at a failing company.
In the face of this stark reminder that government will ultimately fail you, every time, without exception, the feeling I left with was not despair, but hope. I saw engaged citizens from all parties – Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and, of course, Libertarians – uniting against this power grab and demanding that their voices be heard.
Ending government overreach and making sure the public interest is the only special interest that North Carolina serves is the biggest reason I am running for Governor of this great state, and the people of Fayetteville left me encouraged that my vision of uniting regular people against our power-hungry rulers is not only possible, but that people are looking for change.
"To be, rather than to seem," our state motto is not just a catchy phrase - it's a call to action, to be true to ourselves, to be true to our values, and to be true to the principles of Liberty and freedom that unite us as Americans. And that means holding these politicians accountable and demanding that they do the same. Because at the end of the day, the real power doesn't come from the politicians. It comes from us, the people. All we have to do is decide we will no longer be ruled by the far-mongering and power hoarding from our political elites, and together we can #FireTheUniparty.
So to the Fayetteville City Council and all the other power-hungry politicians out there, I say this: we see you. We know what you're up to. And we're not going to let you get away with it. We'll be watching, we'll be organizing, and we'll be voting.
And to the people of Fayetteville, and of North Carolina, I promise you that, as Governor, I will never betray your trust. I will always put your interests first. Everything I do will be to restore your power, increase your Liberty, and improve your life. "To be, rather than to seem." It's not just a motto - it's a way of life. And if we stay true to that, there's no limit to what we can accomplish.
This month, the Tar Heel caught up with LPNC Gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross. Mike announced his candidacy for the Libertarian nomination for the 2024 North Carolina governor race earlier this month at the state convention. Mike’s political profile has grown over the last two years as he led the charge to fight for the rights of homeless veteran Joshua Rohrer, who was assaulted by police leading to the death of his service dog, as well as Pastor Moses Colbert, against whom the City of Gastonia retaliated when he also defended Joshua.
We asked Mike about his candidacy, the issues that matter, his campaign strategy, Libertarians running competitive campaigns, and a whole host of other topics.
Tar Heel: Mike, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. It's a big commitment to run for governor, and it had to start somewhere. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?
Mike Ross: I've always been engaged in keeping an eye on how we are ruled, but it was only as things have continued to get worse that I felt the need to actually run for office. The idea of a free and independent people being the best route to prosperity for society is something I've always believed in, and Libertarian philosophy actually embraces governing with this idea in mind.
Tar Heel: You’ve been active politically, but not as a candidate. What finally changed to make you take the leap?
Ross: As I continue to see Republicans and Democrats pushing division instead of solutions, while embracing policy that is good for special interests but bad for North Carolinians, I felt like the largest group of voters in this state deserve having someone on the ballot who will make them the only special interest that matters.
Tar Heel: Now that you’re in the race, it’s certainly no secret that, while we are growing as a party, it has not yet translated to significant electoral success. How do you see yourself able to change this?
Ross: The veil of the uniparty has been lifted, and I see more people of different ideologies waking up to the systemic dismantling of Liberty at all levels of government. While being governor would allow me to bring real positive change to the lives of regular North Carolinians, I'm aware that at this point it is a very low probability shot. However, it's a great opportunity to grow the movement and inspire future candidates to fix things locally.
Of course, I'm running to win. If we want to be a serious influence on the North Carolina political landscape, it starts with being serious. I have a great team, and we have a strategy mapped out from now until the election. To have a shot, what I really need is volunteers to help out.
Tar Heel: How important is messaging, and what can we do to get our message out there more effectively?
Ross: Messaging is essential. We are competing against hundreds of millions of special interest money. To try to compete with money would be silly, but bringing an inspiring message with Libertarian solutions that will bring real improvement to regular people's lives is a way to fight back. Inspired people sharing the campaign with everyone they know is far more powerful than money.
Tar Heel: Do you see this differently on a national level, a state level, and at local levels?
Ross: Yes and no. The needs of every locality are different, but the root idea of decentralizing power resonates at all of those levels. The uniparty generally does the same thing at all levels as well, but the power is mostly only exerted by those in larger areas, and then disproportionately exerted on areas that just want to be left alone.
Tar Heel: Your campaign PAC is named "Fire the Uniparty.” What does that mean, and how do you message that to people under the umbrella of the uniparty?
Ross: Despite the theater of the Republicans and Democrats hating each other, they always seem to work together when it comes to advancing special interests over the people. I think the messaging is pretty straightforward… just tell the truth. The records of both Republicans and Democrats give plenty of evidence that despite what they say, they don't actually care about their voters.
Tar Heel: I know family is important to you. How are they handling what promises to be a long and intense campaign?
Ross: They're hanging in there. The time away will definitely be a sacrifice, but they understand why I have to run.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what are the most important issues to you in North Carolina, and how does being so devoted to your family inform what issues you prioritize?
Ross: My platform covers the issues in more detail, but the economy, education, and healthcare are the most important issues for me. I'm blessed that my family is doing well in those areas, but millions of North Carolinians are suffering in those areas because of bad policy designed to benefit special interests at their expense. Stopping the government from making things unnecessarily harder for families is why I'm doing this.
Tar Heel: Polling shows that those are issues that are important to families in North Carolina. Coming back to messaging, how do you get your platform and the Libertarian argument out to North Carolina families?
Ross: I think it's going to take a grassroots movement to make it happen. I'm going to spend a lot of time talking about tangible Libertarian solutions and how they will make people's lives better. Real solutions, unlike the power grabs the uniparty proposes that won't make a difference for regular people. Combining digital content with boots on the ground in all 100 counties is the way I'm hoping to reach them.
Tar Heel: You’ve already had some success in getting some earned media and using the opportunity provided by other people’s platforms, with a nice interview on Larry Sharpe recently, and a solid article a couple weeks ago about the campaign. How do you build momentum from those?
Ross: I think it is about consistency and having a great team working with me. I'm going to keep building contacts and taking advantage of any opportunities to reach people.
Tar Heel: OK, break it down for us. What would you like to say to the Tar Heel readers and North Carolina more broadly?
Ross: To the Libertarians of North Carolina, I cannot do this without you. If you're able to help my campaign reach millions of North Carolinians, I need your help. Follow me online and share my content. Visit my website and sign up to help volunteer. If you're able, donate to my campaign. To actually fire the Uniparty will only be possible if we can start a true grassroots political revolution and that is going to take as much help as I can get. I can't do it without you, so let's change the world right here in North Carolina, together.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts you want to share?
Ross: I'd just want to thank them for taking their time to read this interview and tell them I hope to make them proud as a Libertarian candidate. If they want to learn more about my campaign, please check out firetheuniparty dot com. [editor's note: the website link is at the beginning of this interview]