ATLANTA - Voters worried that government has too much power and wastes too much money are the prime target for the Libertarian nominee for governor.
Garrett Michael Hayes offers a straightforward prescription to most problems: Get the government out of the way.
"The whole point of the platform is that government is more often the problem rather than the solution," he said.
For example, why is illegal immigration such a problem in Georgia? Because generous government programs attract them, he says.
His recommendation for improving education relies on letting parents pick any public school in town to send their children to. For those wanting a private-school education, he'd provide vouchers to anyone who asked, not just children in sub-par schools.
To lower the crime rate, Mr. Hayes favors erasing from the law books the offense that puts most people in jail and costs the most to enforce, namely illicit drug use.
He doesn't advocate recreational drug use but says legalization would make drugs so plentiful that the profits that entice criminals would immediately disappear.
"The penalty for drug use is stupidity and death, and that's where it ought to be," he said.
Mr. Hayes grew up in a Republican household and eventually believed that neither major party was competent to manage the budget or craft effective social-service programs. He says a growing number of Georgians are having the same revelation.
"People are starting to catch on that Republicans are spending just about as freely as Democrats did," he said.
With the aid of statewide distribution of Libertarian Neal Boortz's radio talk show since the last election, the Libertarian Party is enjoying its strongest support ever, making Georgia one of the party's most vibrant states.
Mr. Hayes attributes the rising Libertarian support to public reaction to the so-called eminent domain issue. The state Legislature this year passed a bill sold as limiting the government's power to seize private property through a legal means called eminent domain.
Mr. Hayes says the new measure is toothless and that voters who learn of it are becoming enraged and distrustful of both major parties. The Libertarian party is an alternative for those disgruntled voters, he says.
Trying to pass legislation with no other Libertarians in state office could be difficult for Mr. Hayes.
Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia, predicts tough sledding.
"Should he somehow become governor, he would set out to roll back government regulations," Dr. Bullock said. "He would face a lot of opposition in doing that."
Reach Walter Jones at (404) 589-8424 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Garrett Michael Hayes
Residence: Cobb County
Political experience: Libertarian nominee for governor in 2002
Profession: Technical writer
Education: Bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from California State College at Bakersfield
Family: One son