Paul Passarelli, president of Solar and Thermal Systems Inc., plans to run for Senate in 2012 as a Libertarian.
Pasarelli was a Republican all of his life, but he is quick to downplay the significance. “Saying that is a bit like saying I’ve eaten potatoes in one form or another for most of my life too,” Passarelli said in a recent email. “I’ve never been politically active. I tried to stay informed on local issues, state issues, and national issues. I’ve voted every year… I’ve split tickets too.”
Still, what prompted the jump to the Libertarian Party?
“It never occurred to me to give the Republicans a chance,” he said. “Look at the candidates they’ve run. I’ve been saying for years that we don’t have a two party system. We have one big “Party party” (or “party Party”) with a Left side and a Right side.”
He prefers a different approach. Part of his motivation is his experience on Internet message boards. “On conservative boards I found myself advocating for personal liberties and on the liberal ones I was promoting individual responsibilities. It seemed I was always taking the minority view, inspiring lurkers to speak up. I lost count of how many times my minority friends on both sides suggested I run for office. I suppose you could say the ember was smoldering for a long time.”
Passarelli is optimistic about his chances. When asked how he will measure success in the campaign he responds, “That’s easy: ‘Mr. Passarelli, will you please raise your right hand and repeat…’” referring to the oath of office. He points out that third parties have “demonstrated surprising upsets” in Connecticut in the past, including retiring Independent Senator Joe Lieberman and former Governor Lowell Weicker of A Connecticut Party.
Still, he acknowledges there are major barriers to victory. Unlike a major party candidate, Passarelli does not have access to the large donors and volunteers of the major parties. He plans to “measure success one step at a time.”
The Libertarian seeks to run on the strength of his ideas. “I’m going to keep people talking. I’m not going to resort to pandering,” he said. “I’m going to anger some folks and encourage others. I *KNOW* that I’m going to annoy the political machines. I *MUST* adhere to the fundamental principle that the facts speak for themselves.”
Passarelli will face tough competition. Democrats running include Representative Chris Murphy and former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz. No prominent Republicans have announced yet, but many suspect 2010 senatorial candidate Linda McMahon will run again. There is also speculation that consumer advocate Ralph Nader could run for the seat as a Green or Independent.
You can find Passarelli’s website here.