Pizza Man May Deliver NC Senate Seat to Democrats

Monday, 07 Jul 2014 09:12 AM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Pizza deliveryman Sean Haugh is casting a huge shadow over the tense North Carolina race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis.

Four polls show that the Libertarian candidate is cutting a deep slice into the vote, which may tip the balance in favor of the vulnerable incumbent, according to The Washington Post.

Haugh is too busy delivering pizzas at night to find time to campaign during the day.

Instead, he’s turned to social media outlets to look for support, with a series of You Tube videos filmed in his campaign manager’s basement, the Post said.

And it appears to be paying dividends in what is being seen as a key race for the GOP as it attempts to recapture the Senate in November, overturning a 55-45 the Democratic majority.

The four polls show that he’s garnered around 8 percent to 11 percent of voters, while the same surveys say that the gap between Hagan and Tillis is six points or less, the Post reported.

"If it ends up being a one or two-point race, Democrats could keep the Senate because of Sean Haugh," said Tom Jensen, director of Public Policy Polling (PPP), which showed the Libertarian at 11 percent in its May and June surveys, according to the Post.

"Definitely, Haugh’s got both sides’ attention," Ben Ray, a spokesman for the Democratic operation in North Carolina, told the Post. "We’re preparing for a very tight race down the home stretch, and every vote is going to count."

Democrats and Republicans are also keeping a close eye on other Senate races in which Libertarians may play a key role, including Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Virginia, West Virginia and Alaska.

In Virginia last year, Democrat Terry McAuliffe beat Republican Ken Cuccinelli by 2.6 points in the gubernatorial race, leaving the GOP to wonder whether Libertarian Robert Sarvis’ share of the vote was a major factor in the result.

Haugh, 53, a longtime Libertarian Party official including a stint as national political director, has previously run unsuccessfully for office five times, the Post said.

However, in 2010, he turned his back on politics as a profession and decided to look for another line of work. But the only job he could get was delivering pizza — a job he found that he enjoys, though he declines to name the pizza chain he works for.

Then in 2014, he had a change of heart and decided to run for office again. "[I] couldn’t stand the idea of walking into the voting booth and just seeing the Democrat and the Republican on the ballot," he told the Post.

While the candidates and outside group have splashed out $15 million in the race, Haugh’s campaign has banked just $4,000, including $600 from his mother and one tenth of a bitcoin, the Post noted. So his success in the run-up to the midterms has confounded Democrats and Republicans alike.

"The number one factor is the branding of Libertarian," he told the Post. "One of the huge differences between when I ran [for Senate] in 2002 and this time is ‘libertarian’ is a household word now. Everybody knows what it means."

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