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A Look at Mike Munger, The Other Candidate for Governor

Democrat Beverly Perdue and Republican Pat McCrory are not the only candidates running for governor. There's also third-party candidate Mike Munger. He's a Libertarian who believes he's a viable alternative for voters fed up with the two major parties. For 23 years, Munger has been an academic teaching about politics. Now, Munger has the perspective of a politician as he addresses his students "I expect that it will make me a better teacher. But now that I am a candidate for governor, it would be inappropriate for me to mention it in any way, so I never discuss it," Munger says. That's not to say his student don't ask Munger about his campaign. "I say we'll talk about it after the election. I think many of them are pleased at the idea but a lot of them say they don't know about Libertarians. I suggest they go to a web site. I'm happy to answer that one," he says. For Munger, being a libertarian means advocating for limited government. He believes too many government-funded projects billed as being in the public's interest do more to subsidize special interests. "We build roads that crease economic benefit for developers who make large contributions to people who run for governor, and then they get appointed to the Department of Transportation's board and they make new decisions to build new roads that create new developments," Munger says. "We're subsidizing sprawl" Munger realizes that Charlotte's light rail line is popular, but he's not a fan of the public investment it required. He says Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory was wrong to push for a half-cent sales tax to help fund the system. "I've studied mass transit from all over the world. I just published a study on the Chilean mass public system. I've student the Charlotte mass transit system. It's a net waste of money," Munger says." "The effect is that we could pay for taxi rides for everyone who is now riding on the light rail. They could have free taxi rides from wherever they wanted and we could still save money. The net effect is not to reduce congestion at all. All it has done is make travel much more expensive for people in Charlotte. The effects are negligible on congestion." Munger has been at Duke for 11 years, the last eight as chairman of the political science department. Before that, he was a professor at UNC-Chapel Hill. He grew up in Florida, and earned his bachelor's degree from Davidson College. Outside a stint as a Federal Trade Commission staff economist during the Reagan Administration, he's spent his entire career in academia. Munger was a registered Republican until. He says he became a libertarian because both the Democratic and Republican parties have lost direction. "What they have done is converge to the center and decided that they are going to sell of policy. They just kind of auctioned it. They've become a cartel," Munger says. "In North Carolina in particular, where I've lived nearly 20 years, it's clear that that's what's happened." Munger talks a lot about education reform. He claims that 7 to 8 percent of African-Americans support him because of his stance on the topic. "What I would like to do is give parents choices and responsibility through, increase the ceiling on charter schools and have a voucher program that would allow poor people as well as wealthy people to have the kind of choices that wealthy people have right now," he says. "It's people in urban areas that are desperate for some kind of change. They want to be able to escape the school system; the public system they think is not serving them." As Election Day draws near, some of Munger's students are taking increasing interest in his campaign, like sophomore Christopher Edelman. "I think it's great that a Libertarian candidate can put together a campaign and actually make a serious effort in getting the nomination." Munger doesn't expect to win, but he is confident he can get up to 7 percent of the vote. His party had to collect nearly 70,000 signatures to get on the ballot this year. He only needs 2 percent of the vote for the Libertarian party to have automatic access to the ballot in four years. "I hope very much that I win. I expect to win in 2012," Munger says.