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On Wednesday afternoon, on behalf of the MSBA, former State Senator Bobby Zirkin interviewed Libertarian candidate David Lashar, at Stevenson University. Lashar, the only third-party candidate running for governor, described himself as a “Reagan Republican” when he was a young voter, but says he began to question his affiliation with the party when the United States invaded Iraq under the Bush administration. He lost faith in Republicans with the rise of Donald Trump and divorced himself from the party. He was working under Governor Hogan at the time, as the Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer of the Maryland Department of Health, and chose the Libertarian party because he believes it is the only party dedicated to a principle, which is that they will not use force or aggression to achieve their goals. 

Lashar said he would take a data-driven approach to dealing with COVID should he be elected governor. He thinks Governor Hogan did a very good job operationally in terms of dealing with COVID but believes he could have done better in terms of educating the public that the virus “was not affecting all people the same way, but some portions of our population were more vulnerable than others.” Lashar says he would have taken a different approach as governor, in that “as soon as that kind of information started becoming available from professionals and from data, [I] would want to ask questions of does this mean that we have to treat everybody the same way?” He would move towards marshaling resources towards protecting those that are clearly more vulnerable first, instead of employing a one-size-fits-all solution. Lashar is pro-vaccination, but he does not believe that the evidence supports the imposition of additional vaccine mandates. Instead, he feels people should have the choice to make reasonable decisions. He is against mask mandates for children because they are the least vulnerable population. Lashar dislikes masks because he believes they place unnecessary fear in the next generation. 

Zirkin and Lashar also discussed free speech, which Lashar said he supports because he believes no one is infallible, and therefore, it is essential to engage in debate and welcome dissent. He explained that free speech should be protected not only in terms of discussing alternative treatments for COVID but also in higher education. To that end, he would like to see a law that states if a university has free speech and due process codes but does not enforce them and are not truly institutions for free speech, they should not receive any state or federal funding. Lashar does not support the imposition of criminal consequences for parents whose children engage in cyberbullying, deeming it too stifling. 

Lashar discussed public safety as well. He believes that we can reduce violent crime by ending the war on drugs. He thinks that the illicit drug trade is the cause of most violent crime, and the key to reducing high crime rates is to stop criminalizing drug use.  He believes that all drugs, including opioids, and alkaloids, should be made legally available in a controlled and safe manner and that providing such access would reduce both crime and overdose rates. He thinks any efforts other than complete legalization are merely political and would have no true impact on crime. 

In closing, Lashar challenged anyone who is looking for a governor who is both compassionate and responsible, principled and accomplished, to vote for him. He describes himself as the only candidate currently in the running who has both private and public sector achievements and stated he would work with the General Assembly and engage in civil discourse when needed in order to get things done. 

You can view David Lashar’s entire interview here.