By Jill Nolin, CNHI State Reporter
ATLANTA – Tired of two-party politics? The lesser-known third-party candidate in the closely watched Georgia gubernatorial race says he wants your “protest” vote.
“This is going to be a runoff anyway,” Ted Metz, who is running as a Libertarian, said during the first televised debate. “If you’re tired of the two-party system and the two-party tyranny of the oligarchs running the planet, then a vote for me is a protest vote to show them that you are sick and tired of the same ol’ stuff.”
Metz, a Mableton retiree who worked in the insurance industry, used candidate-to-candidate questions during Tuesday night’s Atlanta Press Club debate to highlight the flaws of both Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. The debate aired live on Georgia Public Broadcasting.
Abrams and Kemp are running neck and neck with just a couple weeks left before the Nov. 6 election, according to recent polls. As of Tuesday, about 741,000 people had already cast a ballot in early voting.
Metz has lagged far behind Abrams and Kemp, mustering just 1 or 2 percent of support from likely voters in recent polls. And he’s raised just $6,000 in a race that has smashed state fundraising records.
But if Metz cobbles together enough votes to deny Abrams and Kemp the votes needed for a majority, the race to name Georgia’s next governor could run into December. Four people have also qualified as write-in candidates in the race.
Metz used his time on screen to laud the usefulness of industrial hemp, call for smaller government and decry the two-party political system.
He said lower voter turnout – which he attributed to disinterested independent voters – is a bigger issue than voter suppression, which has become a major election issue in the homestretch of the race.
“They’re trying to pull us apart and vote for one of the two teams,” Metz said. “There are more people that are more interested in hearing a third voice than voting for team red or team blue.”
Metz told reporters afterwards that “the extreme left versus extreme right is more like wrestling than it is government.”
Jill Nolin covers the Georgia Statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.