Travis Irvine in a suit and glasses

One year ago, I was the Libertarian candidate for governor of Ohio in a four-way race. The perfect outcome would have been for myself and the Green Party candidate, Constance Gadell-Newton, to both receive 3 percent of the vote so we could meet the arbitrary benchmark set by Ohio Republicans to maintain ballot access for our political parties the next four years. Another aspect of this perfect outcome would have been for our total amount of votes to cause Republican Mike DeWine to lose to Democrat Richard Cordray. The Ohio Republican Party has had a stranglehold on our state government for far too long, as evidenced by the aforementioned 3 percent benchmark being set for minor parties and signed into law at all. Unlike Republicans, Democrats have never made ballot access so difficult in Ohio, so a Cordray administration would have been a welcome change of pace, even for Libertarians.

As we now know, none of these perfect outcomes were achieved. In fact, it was quite the opposite -- both the Green and Libertarian parties lost ballot access due to the fact that neither Constance or I met the 3 percent threshold, although the Libertarians have a legal precedent from a court case out of Tennessee that gives us a second chance to meet the arbitrary benchmark. But the worst part of last year’s results was that Mike DeWine soared to the Governor’s seat over Cordray by upwards of 165,000 votes. And while my total of 79,985 votes and Constance’s total of 49,475 votes added together didn’t even exceed the margin by which DeWine won, there are still some political neophytes who think that third parties caused DeWine to win.

This, of course, is an absurd insinuation, although we do see this from arrogant and ignorant political commentators every few years. Believe it or not, there are still people in our country who are so far aligned with the left or right within the two-party system that they think only two options should exist when Americans look at a ballot. But people who have the courage to vote third party usually don’t vote Democrat or Republican anyway. In fact, most studies of election results -- such as Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson’s total vote count in 2016 -- show that people who vote third party are typically Independents or would rather not vote in certain races at all. For example, in 2016 more people showed up to vote for or against the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida than the total of people who voted for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, because many just left the presidential race blank.

In 2018, my campaign was easily polling better with Republicans who didn’t like DeWine leading up to the election -- multiple Tea Party groups around the state had endorsed me, while other Ohio conservative networks were encouraging their supporters to either vote for me or leave the governor race blank. My campaign team knew where our support was coming from and leaned in as much as we could -- we challenged DeWine’s conservative credentials when it came to taxes, spending and gun rights. Heck, I even got the endorsement of infamous political trickster and Trump ally Roger Stone! In the days before the election, most polls reflected our efforts, as Cordray polled at an average of 48 percent, DeWine was at 43 percent and I was at 5 percent -- perfectly making up the margin of DeWine’s potential loss.

Again, we all know how things ended. Despite some silly analysis by dumpy know-nothings who still feel the need to troll me on the Internet, Cordray and the Ohio Democratic Party lost because they no longer have the support of the union-loving, working class voters of the Mahoning Valley. The Ohio electoral map in 2018 was almost identical to when Trump won in 2016. DeWine and his team deserve credit for the shrewd tactics they used in the days before the election -- not only did DeWine get former Ohio governor John Kasich’s endorsement, but he also got President Trump’s and held rallies (separately, of course) with both men in different corners of the state. Add to this the fact that Mike DeWine wrote his campaign a check for $3 million the last week before the election, which allowed for an extra half-million dollars to be spent every day on last minute advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts. It was a power play by one of Ohio’s most powerful political hacks and it paid off.

One year later, most rational political types in Ohio can look at the simple electoral math and see that neither my gubernatorial campaign nor the Green Party’s gave Mike DeWine his win in Ohio’s 2018 election. However, for any others who need further explanation, I’m happy to keep setting the record straight.

Travis Irvine is a Columbus-born journalist, comedian, filmmaker and former Libertarian candidate for governor of Ohio. A graduate of Columbia Journalism School, he writes from an undisclosed location in America.