When Robert Sarvis walked in the Buena Vista Labor Day Parade, he was still a relative unknown, but widespread dissatisfaction with the two major party candidates has helped propel the Libertarian's campaign.
"I'm providing a very different option, a better option," Sarvis told us in a recent interview. "I'm the moderate in the race and providing a vision of Virginia that's open-minded and open for business and people are really responding to that."
Sarvis is a Virginia native, born and raised in Fairfax County. He has experience as a small business owner, attorney and software developer. He now lives in Annandale with his wife Astrid and two young children.
Sarvis wasn't invited to participate in the three major debates, but he has benefited from extensive news coverage, and campaign commercials funded by an independent political action committee.
The spots position him as an alternative to Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, but Sarvis says there is more to his pitch than "none of the above."
"I think that the other two candidates, their negativity and their lack of substance on the issues creates the opening, a desire of the voters for something else," he said, "but you have to fill that void with substance."
That substance crosses traditional boundaries. Sarvis supports gun rights and gay marriage. He would defend Virginia's Right to Work law and decriminalize marijuana. The common threads, Sarvis says, are personal liberty and economic freedom.
While some critics have questioned his libertarian credentials, Sarvis says his personal background and professional experience should recommend him to the state's voters.
"I'd like them to know that I am a native Virginian. I was born and bred here, raised in northern Virginia, but I also represent the diversity, the growing diversity of Virginia. I have an immigrant mother, mixed race. I am in a mixed race marriage. I understand the importance of education. I understand the importance of technology, and the challenges we're going to face in the future," he said.
"And so I think when you talk about job growth and an open economy, you also have to talk about an open society and being welcoming to immigrants and people of all backgrounds.And I think my background and the diversity that I both embody physically and philosophically is a huge strength."