This month, the Tar Heel caught up with Shannon Bray. Shannon recently announced he will be seeking the Libertarian nomination for the North Carolina governor race in 2024. This is not his first run as candidate in NC; in both 2022 and 2020 he ran for the open Senate seats, including a widely publicized race last year that included Green Party nominee Matthew Hoh featuring a debate at Davidson College.
We wanted to talk to Shannon about his influences, his interests, his main issues, and his motivations. We also wanted to get his thoughts on messaging, which is a major topic of discussion at local, state, and federal levels of the LP right now.
Tar Heel: Shannon, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today, and congratulations on your announcement. What influenced your initial interest in politics and what specifically attracted you to the Libertarian philosophy?
Shannon Bray: I often joke that it was Sarah Palin that drove me to the Libertarian party but politics in general started to divide people running up to 2008. I took an online political test to find where my ideals best aligned. What I discovered was I was indeed Libertarian. When I moved to North Carolina in 2012, I registered as a Libertarian.
The presidency of Donald Trump ultimately led to a decision to let my voice be heard. At the time, I was working for the DoD and the government spending issues kept furloughing my paycheck. As a person who has worked for the federal government most of my life, I felt I had a unique perspective that others would gravitate to.
Tar Heel: This is your third major race in NC. What motivates you to sign up each time? Is it the same underlying drive, or do you find different reasons for different races?
Bray: With the absence of the US Senate race, I had anticipated taking a backseat in this election, but I have had a number of communities reach out and ask that I run this year; this time for Governor. Technology has advanced dramatically and most of our leaders lack the knowledge to take advantage of technologies. I guess to answer your question, each time has been different. What makes this time different is I have already raised more money for this coming election than I have for my previous two attempts.
Tar Heel: We have been talking about messaging recently. You are very publicly a proponent of crypto and other blockchain currency solutions. What got you into them, why do you think they are important, and where do you see them going?
Bray: Crypto is one of the reasons why it is important that I am in this race. My start in crypto goes back several years but my crypto vision is somewhat new. Most people look at crypto as a replacement for fiat currency, and while that is true, the birth of NFTs will change the way our society works with data. Not to mention, DOAs and other crypto-type projects can offer many benefits to local economies. One such example is City Coin.
Tar Heel: Are you concerned about government attempts to intervene in the crypto market, either directly through regulation, or roundabout through the creation of CBDCs?
Bray: Yes; government sponsored crypto defeats the point altogether. The people of the world need a decentralized currency that they own and cannot be stolen from them by the government.
Tar Heel: Beyond crypto, what issues do you consider to the most important heading into 2023 and the election in 2024?
Bray: Our economy needs help; we are in a recession. The White House is reporting good job numbers but that is only because Americans are having to work more than one job now to get by. This is their answer for counting inflation. I'm a father of three school-aged kids and school choice is important. As a veteran, I also need to ensure that my brothers and sisters have the best resources available to them as they transition out of war zones.
Tar Heel: The Green party faced some pretty significant challenges getting on the ballot last year in the latest example of serious gatekeeping by both duopoly parties. What can the Libertarian party do to spread its message and see electoral success despite this challenge?
Bray: Ultimately, this is why we must run. As a third party, we want our ideas heard. We want our candidates taken seriously but the duopoly has defined our political structure and made it difficult for independent voices to emerge. Ballot access is a constant fight which is why the Libertarian party and its members work so hard to ensure we have candidates on the ballot. Every vote we get helps us maintain our ballot access. I, and the other third-party candidates, have to fight for each vote we get and absolutely no vote was wasted. Each of those votes helps ensure someone's voice can be heard in the future.
Tar Heel: Going further, you and Matthew Hoh became friends during that campaign. Where do you see other opportunities to work together with people on issues where we share common ground?
Bray: I would love to see other candidates work together like Mathew and I did. I think it shows how we would work for North Carolina in Washington. That is not the nature of NC politics though. It is a dirty business with both sides throwing in dark money to muddy the waters.
Tar Heel: Very interesting, thank you for that insight. Looking more specifically at you, make your governor pitch. What can you bring to the people of NC and why should you get their support? What would you do on day one?
Bray: I have a fresh take on what our economy needs and I would like to ensure our state can act without the need of any support from the Federal government. I would introduce cannabis as a cash crop and bring aid to our farmers. Our school system needs a gut check; I'm here to provide it. I am a huge advocate of school choice. With my technology background, I can bring new markets to our state while not risking our environment.
On day one we will have Constitutional Carry by Executive Order.
Tar Heel: Following up on that, what would you like to share about yourself personally with people who might be voting for you?
Bray: I'm a bit of an open book. After leaving the US Navy, I started working in technology. Most of my life has been documented somewhere online. I understand the threats that face our nation and I also understand some of the domestic threats that face our state. I believe we can replace many of our outdated systems with new technology and we can do so without forcing the bill on our taxpayers.
Tar Heel: Thank you again for your time today. Before we go, do you have any final thoughts or messages you want to share with the people reading this?
Bray: I appreciate everyone for taking the time to read this. If anyone has any questions, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter at @shannonbrayNC or though my campaign resources. Thank you.