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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

Two Michigan Libertarian governor candidates walk into a bar…

For the first time in state history, Michigan’s Libertarian Party will appear alongside their major party rivals on the August 7 primary ballot.

These limited-government advocates grabbed their spot during the 2016 election thanks to high rates of unfavorability for both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, when enough Michigan voters chose Libertarian Gary Johnson for president to qualify the party for a primary. (Any party that gets at least five percent of the total votes in the last Secretary of State election qualifies in Michigan.)

Longtime Libertarian activists Bill Gelineau, a title insurance agent and former party chairman, and John Tatar, a retired Army Reserve lieutenant colonel and teacher, are running to be their party’s candidate for governor. The two joined Bridge for a conversation at Lansing Brewing Company Tuesday afternoon. To watch the entire 28-minute Facebook Live session click here.

Here’s where they stand on five philosophical and policy-related issues.

On one big thing they’d change about Michigan government

Tatar: “We have elected officials that don't need to be there. And in particular I’m picking on the Senate. They have no function constitutionally to be even in office … (the state constitution) gives no function or no job to that Senate. So we're paying twice for representatives, we're paying for the House of Representatives and we’re paying for the Senate.”

Gelineau: “Thirty percent (of the state budget) is involved in corrections in one fashion or another. That is an area where we can do a lot of changes. … I would give clemency to every person who did not commit a violent crime in conjunction with their low-level drug offense.”

On what Libertarians can offer Michigan the major parties have not

Gelineau: “We believe in economic liberty, which is something more associated with the Republican Party, but we also believe in individual responsibility and tolerant social policies … I'm a natural rights libertarian … You’re king in your castle, is kind of the idea. That these (rights) come naturally … It extends to a whole lot of things. End of life issues, for example. … Those to me are important public policy issues that aren’t even being discussed.”

Tatar: “I think the Democrats and Republicans are compromised. They work for not the people, they work for themselves. I have been involved with the Republican Party in the past as a delegate, and the delegates have no power at all. That's the people. The Libertarians, for a party, has not at this point become corrupt.”

On taxation

Gelineau: “I’m a zero tax person… I would work toward becoming more like New Hampshire. New Hampshire has no income tax and they function. They have no sales tax and they function. And they function pretty well.”

Tatar: “Taxes have gone up significantly since the Republicans have come in, and they were bad with the Democrats when the Democrats were in. So it doesn’t matter which party is in… they continue to raise the taxes, they continue to never have enough money and they continue to not take care of the infrastructure of Michigan.”

On public policy that aims to help correct past discrimination against minority communities

Tatar: “Those issues that have been plaguing us for years are still plaguing us, even with government intervention. Nothing’s changed over all these years. … We want to give (minorities) the freedom and the liberty that everybody else has, but it’s a mindset issue, too. You can always walk around saying, ‘Well, I’m black and therefore I’m not going to make it.’ Or ‘I came from a poor family therefore I’m not going to make it.’”

Gelineau: “I would extend (Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act) to transgender people because here’s a group of people who have not been allowed to exercise their natural rights.”

On what makes them different from the other

Tatar:I’m a strict constitutionalist. I’m also very in favor of the Republic. I believe we need to go back to the roots of what our founding fathers decided that we should be in this country, where the people are free to move and live the way they want to live. And the government was basically established to protect our life, liberty and property. That was their only responsibility and their only duty, was to protect us from outside intervention of people trying to steal our stuff and steal our life. I want to go back to that Republic.”

Gelineau: “For me it's a lot of...it's about free-market solutions. We've seen how big government has just failed us in so many ways…Rather than having government do everything, which is very inefficient, I’m a real devotée of Dr. (David) Adamany at Wayne State University. He was a free-market guy. He’d build a building and he’d say before we put the sidewalks in, ‘Let’s see where people want them.’”

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