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Coverage of the 2016 presidential election from NPR News and related blogs, including candidate profiles, interviews and talking points.On-air specials will also be broadcast as Election Day approaches, including the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.WRVO also provides coverage of regional elections both on-air and online.

Libertarian Senate candidate thinks this election year is a good one for outsiders

Ellen Abbott
Libertarian candidate for Senate Alex Merced (right) talking to a voter at the state fair.

The Libertarian Party is trying to make a name this political season, which has disaffected some voters from the major political parties. Alex Merced believes a Libertarian option gives him an edge in a race against incumbent Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY).

Merced jumped in the race against Schumer in what he calls a “weird political year.” And he points to the ease of getting signatures to get on the ballot as a sign that this year will work to his advantage.

"We were able to get such a huge amount of signatures, over 32-thousand, which just goes to show you the demand for a third alternative, when basically the two major parties are asking you to choose between corruption and crazy,” said Merced.

Merced is facing Schumer, a Democrat running for his fourth term, who could also become Senate Majority leader in January, if Democrats win control of the Senate; and Wendy Long, a Manhattan Republican, who lost by a record margin two years ago, in a race against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

"You’ve got Chuck Schumer, who basically chooses his legislative action and proposals, based on what will get him in front of a camera, instead of what will benefit everybody, and then you’ve got Wendy Long, who’s doubled down on anything Trump,” said Merced.

So Merced offers himself as what he calls “the candidate of reason.” The Libertarian Party in essence is the party of less government intervention. He says that means it can appeal to conservative Republicans who want to scale back the size of government, and liberal Democrats hoping to expand civil liberties. For example, he says his proposal for a 20 percent flat tax could appeal to both sides.

“To create sort of a huge simplification of the tax code, which will appeal to the right, but also some progressivity and social support that would appeal to the left that actually simplifies and reduces the size of government,” he said.

Merced says his positions on all the issues are explained in a series of YouTube videos on his website. He joins presidential candidate Gary Johnson as the two Libertarian candidates in statewide races. There are a smattering of other Libertarian candidates in some local races, mostly downstate. And while he won’t admit that it would take a miracle to beat Schumer, he hopes his candidacy shows other Libertarians how to run a traditional political campaign.

“Regardless of what happens, this campaign will be a model to other Libertarian candidates going forward, of how we can be competitive, of how we can get the message out there, how we can be compelling and make our case.”

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.