Drew Gray Miller, the Libertarian candidate for Pa. Congressional District 18, is the self-proclaimed “most hated man in America” right now — and he loves it.
A first-time candidate, Miller had unofficially earned 1,380 votes by Wednesday morning.
The race has yet to be called, with Democrat Conor Lamb leading Republican Rick Saccone by 613 votes.
Democrats, though, declared Lamb the winner, and the 33-year-old former Marine delivered an impassioned speech to supporters early Wednesday morning saying, “It took a little longer than we thought, but we did it.” Saccone has not conceded.
Miller, meanwhile, is experiencing something completely different.
“I woke up this morning to [what] I would like to call a healthy amount of hate mail from Republicans. On Twitter, I can’t even read all of them because they’re people telling me to go to Hell and they’re very upset, because they’re blaming me for this,” Miller said. “No candidate is entitled to your vote.”
Republicans lambasted Miller, saying his voters would have been conservative voters, but Miller, formerly a registered Republican, calls the criticism that he “stole” votes from Saccone “ridiculous.”
“If your candidate can’t make up a .6 percent margin, then you need a stronger candidate. I think the Republicans know that and they’re not willing to admit it,” Miller told The Incline today.
While the Democrats and the Republicans hosted standing-room only parties in ballrooms on election night, the 37-year-old Miller watched the results at Fat Head’s Saloon along Pittsburgh’s raucous Carson Street with a crew of supporters. At Lamb’s and Saccone’s camps, crowds roared when vote totals increased. At Miller’s party, supporters cheered when the candidate’s name appeared on TV, rushing to the bar’s TV screens to snap selfies with his name in the background.
For the third-party candidate, just being on TV — and on the ballot — is a big deal, especially in a race with national attention and sweeping consequences.
All along, Miller predicted that the race would be close.
“It went exactly how I was hoping it would go. I think I wanted to send a message to the two-party system. I think I went in here knowing that the odds were stacked against me. I knew going in there, I probably wasn’t going to win. But I just was so tired of this duopoly. I wanted to get in there and present a new message, maybe a refreshing message, I would like to think.”
Now, he said, people will have to realize there are options other than Republicans or Democrats — the beginning of what he predicts will “be a revolution in this country” and a “new sense of purpose” for the Libertarian party.
The differences between Miller’s campaign and the main parties’ campaigns were stark: He printed just 100 campaign signs and posted 80 of them himself. Miller, who describes himself as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” focused on sharing his message with high schoolers and college students, where he felt his message would resonate (read more about Miller’s platform here).
Miller spent $2,000 on the campaign, while Lamb and Saccone spent totals that rival the GDPs of some developing countries. The Democrat and Republican drew thousands of people to rallies and attracted national political stars (Joe Biden and Donald Trump, respectively). CNN cut to live broadcasts from the Saccone and Lamb parties on election night.
For their coverage of Miller … well, they aired a bathroom selfie of him.
While Miller took the race seriously, he also kept his remarks light-hearted, fully aware that he wasn’t going to emerge a victor.
He promised to buy a six-pack of Miller High Life for the winning candidate — a promise he will uphold, just like any good politician. But he’s going to have to wait, just like the rest of us, for the final results to know where to send the beer. He may even send some High Life to the losing candidate “to say, ‘hey I know you’re probably thinking about me.’ I have a feeling that Rick Saccone woke up this morning absolutely hating my guts.”
So, what’s next for the Libertarian? Will he run again?
It’s too soon to tell. He’s “leaving everything open.”
“Maybe I should try to focus on a state-level position because I might actually win that position,” Miller said. “Right now I want to reflect on the fact that last night we made history. Maybe had I not been in the race it’s possible that outcome may have been completely different. I don’t want to say I’m excited to be a spoiler. I’m excited to get that new message out. The entire nation was watching last night.”
And no, in case you were wondering, he’s not going to challenge the results.