|Robert Sarvis at Wright's Dairy Rite in Staunton|
Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian candidate for Governor of Virginia, will not be participating in tonight's debate in Fairfax County between Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, but he will insert himself into the fray anyway.
Sarvis is buying airtime on WRC-TV (NBC4) in Washington, which is broadcasting the debate, sponsored by the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and moderated by NBC political correspondent Chuck Todd.
An advance copy of the 30-second Sarvis spot was provided to Virginia Politics on Demand.
In the TV ad, Sarvis tries to distinguish himself from both his rivals.
The spot begins with a voiceover and side-by-side photos of Cuccinelli and McAuliffe: "Can't vote for these guys?" The focus quickly switches to Sarvis, who says, "Well, I can't either. That's why I'm running for Governor of Virginia."
Introducing himself over footage of himself and his African-American wife and mixed-race kids, Sarvis says, "I joined this race to give you a better choice. Like you, I can't vote for Ken Cuccinelli's narrow-minded social agenda. I want a Virginia that's open-minded and welcoming to all."
He continues: "Like you, I don't want Terry McAuliffe's cronyism, either, where government picks winners and losers. Join me, and together we can build a Virginia that's open-minded and open for business."
The ad moves swiftly, and many viewers may miss it completely.
Two polls (Washington Post and Bearing Drift) released this week show Sarvis hovering at about 10 percent of likely voters; an NBC News poll shows him at 8 percent. The last independent candidate for governor, state Senator Russ Potts, received 2.22 percent of the vote in 2005. The last Libertarian candidate for governor, Bill Redpath, received 0.77 percent of the vote in 2001.
Update: A Zogby poll released September 30 shows Sarvis with 12.7 percent of the vote.