GA Voice - - Front Page - By PA­TRICK SAUN­DERS psaun­ders@the­

Most of the lat­est polls in the race for Ge­or­gia’s open U.S. Se­nate seat sug­gest nei­ther Demo­crat Michelle Nunn nor Repub­li­can David Per­due will gar­ner the nec­es­sary 50 per­cent of the votes to win out­right on Nov. 4. This would throw the elec­tion into a Jan. 6 runoff and cause an even big­ger flood of na­tional me­dia at­ten­tion and na­tional party money to come Ge­or­gia’s way over the next two months.

If that sce­nario hap­pens, one of the likely causes could very well be the pres­ence in the race of Lib­er­tar­ian Party can­di­date Amanda Swaf­ford.

The for­mer Flow­ery Branch city coun­cil­woman hasn’t been able to hit dou­ble dig­its in the polls, but she’s gained the at­ten­tion of the LGBT com­mu­nity with her early and strong support of mar­riage equal­ity.

This was no more ev­i­dent than in a rowdy de­bate in Perry, Ge­or­gia, on Oct. 8, when each can­di­date was given one ques­tion to ask of another can­di­date of their choice. Swaf­ford used her ques­tion to ask Nunn about her stance on mar­riage equal­ity, a stance that has con­fused many in the LGBT com­mu­nity through­out the cam­paign and which Nunn has re­fused to clar­ify with LGBT me­dia.

“It had been well re­ported in the me­dia that Ms. Nunn’s stance on mar­riage equal­ity had been very nu­anced,” Swaf­ford said to the GA Voice when asked why she used her one ques­tion on that is­sue.

“We hadn’t re­ally got­ten a clear an­swer from her on where she stood. I felt par­tic­u­larly lead­ing up to Pride that that would be a very im­por­tant ques­tion to ask and get on the record.”

Nunn came out rel­a­tively strong for mar­riage equal­ity in her an­swer at the de­bate with­out men­tion­ing that she sup­ports states’-rights. Nunn is on the record stat­ing she sup­ports state’s rights—or putting mar­riage equal­ity up to a vote—as Ge­or­gia did in 2004. But Swaf­ford wasn’t en­tirely sat­is­fied with Nunn’s an­swer.

“I didn’t think it was con­sis­tent with what she has said be­fore in pre­vi­ous in­ter­views,” Swaf­ford says. “But that’s fine. Can­di­dates can cer­tainly change their opin­ion

on it, but I feel there’s still some in­con­sis­tency on that. Did she support it in 2012 when it was put in the [Demo­cratic] party plat­form, or be­fore that?”


Swaf­ford also points to Nunn’s ab­sence at At­lanta Pride this year, where the Lib­er­tar­ian can­di­date could be seen rid­ing atop a fire truck in the pa­rade and greet­ing peo­ple at her booth af­ter­ward.

How­ever, Swaf­ford op­poses the Af­ford­able Care Act and be­lieves it should be re­pealed by Congress. She also does not support an in­clu­sive Em­ploy­ment Non-Dis­crim­i­na­tion Act, which would in­clude sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

“We have fed­eral laws that have been in place for that and we have just as im­por­tant First Amend­ment rights that are cer­tainly paramount to each in­di­vid­ual in­volved. And that’s some­thing that we have to re­spect in the process as well,” she said. “But in the con­text of the fed­eral laws that we’re look­ing at, those are cer­tainly laws that we have to up­hold that are cur­rently in place.”

While it’s un­likely that Swaf­ford will poll into the dou­ble dig­its on Elec­tion Day, much less win, she says her pres­ence in the race is about more than that.

“There’s been a lot of cam­paigns where can­di­dates didn’t have elec­toral suc­cess but they were very suc­cess­ful in mov­ing pol­icy de­bates for­ward and get­ting sub­stan­tive move­ments in those is­sues,” she said.

“I think mar­riage equal­ity is one and look­ing at the drug war is another one. That is­sue has re­ceived a lot more cre­dence than it would be­cause of the Lib­er­tar­ian stand on that. You wouldn’t get that dis­cus­sion if you re­lied solely on two ma­jor par­ties to bring up those is­sues.

“If we keep vot­ing the way we’ve al­ways voted, we will end up with the gov­ern­ment we’ve al­ways had. So we have to think dif­fer­ently about things if we re­ally want to see some sub­stan­tive changes in our pol­icy and our gov­ern­ment,” she added.

(Photo cour­tesy of Swaf­ford)

Lib­er­tar­ian Se­nate can­di­date Amanda Swaf­ford took part in her fifth At­lanta Pride pa­rade this year and could force a runoff be­tween the two lead­ing can­di­dates, Demo­crat Michelle Nunn and Repub­li­can David Per­due.

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