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Friday, December 9, 2016

Meet Virgil Goode. Never heard of him? Don’t be surprised. He has fewer than a thousand Twitter followers and is virtually unknown outside his home state of Virginia. But he’s the presidential nominee of the third largest political party in America.

You’re thinking: Wait, isn’t that former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, the Libertarian Party nominee?

Johnson may be more well known, but according to ProCon.org, the Constitution Party has 88,554 more members than the Libertarians, making it the largest third party in America. Founded in in 1991 by Howard J. Phillips as the Taxpayers Party, the Constitution Party was the Tea Party before Fox News took it over.

The Constitution Party’s beliefs pretty much resemble the extremes of the Republican Party, which is why some Republicans fear Goode may take crucial votes away from Mitt Romney in Virginia. For instance, Republicans who don’t appreciate that Mitt Romney believes that abortion should be allowed in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother may support the Constitution Party, which believes in no exceptions.

How serious of a threat is Goode’s candidacy to Romney in Virginia?

The state Republican Party filed a challenge to keep Goode off the ballot, which failed.

The good news for the GOP is that Virgil Goode, in his long and somewhat picaresque career as a state legislator and member of Congress, has never won a statewide election.

Goode was first elected as a Democrat, but was always known for his outlandish stands, including the belief that his elderly mother should be able to enjoy a last cigarette in her hospital bed. He often voted with Republicans and almost helped the GOP take over the State Senate in 1995. After two failed U.S. Senate campaigns, election to the House of Representatives and voting for three out of four articles of Bill Clinton’s impeachment, he left the Democratic Party. In 2000, he became an independent, and in 2002 won the Republican primary in a newly formed district, and was re-elected.

When Goode was barely defeated by  Democrat Tom Perriello in 2008, he sought a rematch but quickly came to realize that Republicans had targeted his district and were determined to elect Robert Hurt to his former seat. Goode soon joined the Constitution Party.

Goode is often left out of polls in the state after only garnering 1 percent of the vote in surveys in September, half of what Gov. Gary Johnson won. But even 1 percent of the vote could tip the scales in a state that President Obama is only winning by less than 1 percent.

Virgil Goode has always relished his chances to complicate the fates of both major political parties. And this November 6, he may have the opportunity of a lifetime.

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