ATLANTA - Early voting does not begin for another two weeks, but the race for U.S. Senate appears may already be destined for a runoff thanks, in part, to a third-party candidate.
Recent polling shows Libertarian Chase Oliver with about 4% of the vote, no matter which major party candidate is winning.
An InsiderAdvantage/FOX 5 poll from September had Republican Herschel Walker in the lead with 47% over incumbent Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock's 44%. Marist Poll, however, had Warnock in the lead with 47% compared to Walker's 42%.
In Georgia, a candidate must receive 50% plus one vote to win outright without a runoff.
"I'm happy that there is a runoff because we need to have over 50% support of a candidate for them to be elected," said Oliver. "I don't believe in plurality voting that's what leads to you know, somebody who gets 40% of the vote representing 100% of the people. So, runoffs are a system that prevents that [...] If I cause a runoff, I'm happy that that happens because it will show that voters are frustrated with the two parties, and they want better options."
This is Oliver's second campaign, having run in the special election to replace the late Congressman John Lewis in 2020. Former Atlanta City Councilman Kwanza Hall won that race.
Oliver has focused his Senate campaign on six main issues:
- Immigration reform
- Justice reform
- Cutting red tape for small business owners
- Ending the war on drugs
- Defending the right to privacy
- Ending wars
"Over half the United States population lives in a state where cannabis is legal. I think it's time we legalize it federally and it will be good for the farmers in Georgia to have a new cash crop," said Oliver.
He said, however, it will be up to voters to decide which issues are the most important to them. One of the most talked-about topics leading up to the election is abortion and the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
"As a Libertarian I like to say I'm pro-choice on everything, but with regards to this in particular, I am a pro-choice candidate. If I were in the United States Senate, I would be supporting the codification of Roe and Casey to make it federal law," Oliver explained. "I believe in bodily autonomy, and ultimately I don't believe it is my decision or the government's decision how to tell women what to do with their body."
Oliver also believes in the Second Amendment.
"I am a big supporter of gun rights. I'm a gun owner. I think it is a good idea for people to be able to arm themselves and defend themselves," said Oliver.
As he has knocked on doors to meet with voters around the state, Oliver said he has found people on both sides of the aisle disenchanted with their party.
"While there are voters certainly that I'll knock on the door, and they'll say, 'I'm already a Warnock voter,' or 'I'm already a Walker voter,' there are plenty of people who are open to hearing the message and I what I hear back a lot of times is Democrats or people who typically vote Democrat who are frustrated with what the Democratic Party has done, and we see the same thing from people who traditionally vote Republican," Oliver explained.
The Libertarian said he wants to provide an option for those voters outside the two-party system, and he disagrees with those who claim voting for a third-party candidate is "wasting" a vote.
"Thanks to the runoff system we have, you're not ever going to be spoiling for another candidate. No vote is wasted if you're voting principally, and you're voting for someone that you believe it," said Oliver.
Oliver has been very vocal on social media in recent weeks as he tries to get a spot on the stage for the Oct. 14 U.S. Senate debate in Savannah. According to the debate rules, a candidate must poll at 10% or higher to participate.
"I am very much wanting to participate in the debate on the 14th with both of my opponents. I really do think it's important for the voters to see all three of us on stage at the same time, and you know, I am very disappointed that looks to not be happening. I will be in Savannah on Oct. 14th right outside the television studio ready to jump in if they want to invite me in, but otherwise I will be doing what I'm doing—speaking to voters as much as possible," said Oliver.
Oliver will appear in the Atlanta Press Club debate Oct. 16 with Sen. Warnock. Walker has not yet agreed to that event.