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]