Virginia Libertarians rally around political newcomer ahead of Election Day

Dustin Evans

Dustin Evans

From the Martinsville Bulletin on November 2, 2019:

With only a couple of days left before Tuesday’s election, the Martinsville Libertarians are especially hard at work. Not an official affiliate of the Libertarian Party, the Martinsville group still shares the same ideals as the national organization and visits local neighborhoods sharing their political leanings.

This year, Eric Bowling, a founder of the Martinsville Libertarians, and about a dozen active members have made visiting friends, family and community members a priority. That’s because it’s an election year for all 100 seats in Virginia’s House of Delegates, and one of their local party members hopes to take one.

Dustin Evans announced his campaign in April, and the team has been busy ever since.

“We’ve gone around and canvassed from door to door and met a lot of voters. We’ve run ads for social media. We’ve written a few letters to newspapers,” Bowling said. “We’ve participated in a lot of community events like Oktoberfest and Smith River Fest. Also, Dustin has gone to a lot of community organizations and spoken to them. We’ve reached out in a lot of different ways to try to reach as many voters as possible.”

Evans is going up against formidable incumbent Republican Delegate Les Adams, who has served in the 16th House District since 2016, which is no easy task for the group.

But no matter which candidate emerges victorious on Tuesday night, Bowling said there will be several positive takeaways from their efforts.

Because Evans isn’t a Republican or a Democrat, some of the people that the canvassers spoke to initially had questions about the Libertarian candidate.

“I think at first they were skeptical,” Bowling said. “And then once they talked to Dustin, once they meet him and then kind of understand a little more about what a Libertarian is and maybe some of the stances that he personally has, a lot of people are receptive, even to the point where certain people who have identified as Democrats or Republicans outright, they’ll say, ‘Well, you know what? I agree with that.’ I think it’s given them a strong look into that.”

With the last full week of the race behind the local campaign team, they’re not taking a breather. In fact, they say they don’t plan to slow down until the last ballot is cast on Tuesday.

“At this point, a lot of stuff is happening all at once. For us, this is kind of a new experience, so we’re learning through it and definitely taking notes,” Bowling said. “We’re putting things into place and making plans for Election Day. We’re trying to make sure we can put his name out there as best we can.”

Bowling also noted that Evans has attended or reserved his spot at various forums and community events throughout the area.

“I think that participation and that willingness to be there to listen to all people and all organizations is really important,” Bowling said. “There are certain things that Dustin stands for and then he’s just a lot more community based and tries to help local organizations like fire departments, Rotary Clubs, Ruritans, Lion’s Club, and so we use those to try to get what their needs are because they’re involved in certain parts of the community.”

Anyone involved in a political race is bound to feel a bit nervous before the big day, but the Libertarians said they are hopeful.

“There’s a lot of good things. I was looking this morning and absentee votes overall for this district are up 13% so far over the 2015 total, and there are still a few days left before Election Day, so that bodes really well,” Bowling said. “Some of the particular areas we think we’ll do better in, it seems the turnout has probably been better, so that is a good indicator.”

Bowling said Adams is stiff competition for the team, but he expresses some positives no matter what.

“No matter the result, there’s going to be different ways that we can classify this as a win, either way. There are going to be, regardless of the turnout, people voting for a libertarian for the first time ever. It gets the message and the idea out,” Bowling said. “And Dustin’s a great candidate. A whole lot of people certainly want to support him.

“It’s more important than ever because the last couple of years, the opponent that Dustin is going against has run unopposed. It encourages participation, the more voices and the more choices that people have,” Bowling said. “I encourage everybody to go out and vote. Whether or not you’re voting for Dustin or whatever, it’s really, really important.”

Mr. Evans’ campaign site: