John Mertens thinks that if he gets 1 percent of the vote this year, it will get national attention.
That’s because he’s running on the somewhat jokey Connecticut for Lieberman party line. When, in 2006, Sen. Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic nomination, he created his own party. After the election, the party was taken over by liberals angry with Lieberman. The party is now devoted to unseating the senator.
Mertens knows he’s not going to win this hotly contested election, but says that, for him, running for Senate is about creating a future for third-party candidates. If Mertens, who’s running for U.S. Senate against Democrat Dick Blumenthal and Republican Linda McMahon, wins 1 percent of the vote, CFL will automatically be on the ballot in 2012. That’s the year Lieberman is up for re-election.
Mertens, an engineering professor at Trinity College in Hartford, has plenty of ideas, you just haven’t heard them (he has more than 30 position papers on his website).
Like many third-party candidates, Mertens has not been invited to the debates and he doesn’t have the funding for TV ads or glossy mailers. To get his message out, Mertens has held events — at places like an Irish pub — concurrent with the televised debates where he answered the same questions posed to McMahon and Blumenthal.
On Afghanistan, Mertens says he thinks the number of troops should be reduced, but he doesn’t support Obama’s war timetable of pulling out by July 2011. Mertens says a smarter way to help Afghanistan and defeat the Taliban is to buy all the country’s poppy plants. Doing so would take away the Taliban’s funding source and help build the country’s economy.
Mertens said he would vote to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. He would also repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which declares that a marriage is between a man and a woman.
In this dismal economy, Linda McMahon, the ex-CEO of WWE, has repeatedly asked Blumenthal, “How do you create a job?” McMahon probably wouldn’t ask Mertens that question because Mertens has an answer. “We need stimulus,” he says, adding that although the official unemployment number is hovering around 9 percent, the real figure is much higher when you count people working part time and people who’ve “given up looking.”
He’d create jobs by creating tax cuts for the middle class, he says, and he’s proposed a payroll tax holiday on people with incomes below $100,000 a year.
“The $800 billion stimulus was terrible bang for the buck,” he says. “It was a top-down approach, and the way to stimulate the economy is to put more money in pockets of people having trouble paying mortgages and bills.”