Adrian Wyllie talks Common Core, personal freedom and being a long shot

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Adrian Wyllie is no ordinary candidate, and his campaign is far from an ordinary.

From his 30-day tour of brewpubs to highlight the craft beer industry to accepting Bitcoin for campaign contributions, the Libertarian candidate for governor wants Florida voters to know he is nothing like his opponents — Republican incumbent Gov. Rick Scott and Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist.

As a third party candidate, Wyllie is making headway. Quinnipiac University recently gave him 9 percent in a three-way race, with Crist getting 39 percent and Scott 37 percent.

“Virtually no one knows much about Wyllie,” said pollster Peter Brown at the time, “but there are a lot of Floridians who aren’t keen on either of the major party candidates.”

The former chair of the Libertarian Party of Florida, Wyllie – a Palm Harbor resident—is an IT consultant and co-founder of the 1787 Radio Network, known as “Florida’s Voice of Liberty.”

In an interview with Margie Menzel of the News Service of Florida, Wyllie talks of his platform, voter dissatisfaction with the two parties and his opposition to Common Core.

“I firmly believe in the United States Constitution,” he says. “And the federal government only has the authority to do those things which are specifically enumerated in the Constitution. Education is not one of them.”

Since education is under the auspices of the state and local government, the main problem Wyllie has with Common Core educational standards is that it comes “down from upon high.” When that happens, both parents, teachers and students lose input.

“Right now, it’s very easy for someone to get their school board member on the phone and tell them their concerns or make suggestions about curriculum,” he adds. “But with Common Core, everything is being flowed down from the national level, and it really takes away the local community’s ability to steer the direction of their local schools.”

Wyllie would repeal Common Core, returning authority back to local school boards over the curriculum and the direction of schools. He noted that Florida is spending “a ton of money” on education, but little of it makes it to the classroom.

“We need to fix that,” he said.

Although his campaign is against cronyism, Wyllie has so far raised only $62,000, a fraction of his opponents. Scott expects to raise $100 million, Crist about half that.

“The reason that you see such a large gap in fundraising between our campaign and the campaigns of Scott and Crist is exactly because of the cronyism,” he says. “We don’t have special interests or large corporations trying to buy favors from us because they know that we’re not going to be granting those special favors.”

A Wyllie administration will do away with single-source no-bid contracts, which he feels is the kind of influence that the large-money campaign financing buys.

“We’re not for sale,” he says.

His three highest priorities are to go after cronyism, corruption and waste where, in many cases, there is fraud. Wyllie feels that is the best way to cut the state budget.

As a pro-business candidate, Wyllie wants to level the playing field for everyone and remove any special barriers and hurdles in the way of economic growth, but not to provide any special advantages to corporations.

“We are not pro-business in the way Republicans or Democrats think of it,” he says. “They think of it as giving special favors to the corporations that came to the table. But by the same token, making sure no businesses have any particular advantages. That’s the difference in the Libertarian free-market concept.”

Calling the records of Scott and Crist “horrendous” on personal liberty, Wyllie points to each of the former governor’s administrations “growing encroachment on individual freedom.”

He notes the decimation of the Fourth Amendment in Florida, as well as increasing militarization of local law enforcement.

“We’ve seen it in the form of REAL ID (federal identification law) and government delving into our medical records to do things, like prevent people from owning firearms or prevent people from potentially using a certain type of drug,” he says. “And it really has to stop.”

With the growing number of independent voters, who are disgusted with the tone of gubernatorial campaign, as well as low turnout in the midterm elections, Wyllie tells Menzel that he is confident he will win an unprecedented share of the vote come November.

“I wouldn’t be in this race if I didn’t think that we had a legitimate shot to win this election,” he says. “Is it a long shot? Yes. But I do believe that we have a chance to get to that 33.4 percent that it will take to win.

“In the mainstream polls, I’m currently polling anywhere between four and nine percent,” Wyllie adds. “However, our internal polling data puts us at around 15 percent.”

What many pollsters do not take into account, he says, is people who are not typical super-voters or even usual, likely voters. In November, there will be issues drawing people to the polls, such as Amendment 2, which seeks to legalize medical marijuana.

Wyllie expects younger voters to be energized, those who have no interest in either Crist or Scott. He says that “realistic standings” put him somewhere in the teens.

“All we need to do is reach enough Floridians and let them know that there is a third choice,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many people I talk to that say — they may know nothing about my platform, but they just tell me, ‘I’m voting for you because you’re not them.’ And I think that sentiment is very broad here in Florida.”

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.