Paul Drgos wants to represent Maryland's 3rd Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, and he wants your vote.
As the Libertarian Party's candidate, the Pasadena native faces an uphill battle in both party recognition and campaign funds. Drgos said he has only one paid staffer—his campaign manager.
The 3rd District stretches from Annapolis to Baltimore County and is considered safely Democratic by political analysts. In 2010—a particularly difficult year for both incumbents and Democrats—Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Towson) retained the seat with 60 percent of the vote, according to the Baltimore Business Journal.
Why He's Running
"I decided to run because I think that our civil liberties are being taken away from us," Drgos said. "Between the Patriot Act and the National Defense Authorization Act we can be put in jail and detained forever. That’s my biggest issues is our civil liberties, and I believe that the government is just violating them."
Being a Third Party Candidate in the Election
"I would love to win this election. I wouldn’t have ran if I didn’t think I couldn’t make a decent showing," Drgos said. "I find it very hard to believe that I could surpass Mr. Sarbanes, but I will do everything I can to try."
The Libertarian Party is new to Maryland with approximately 11,000 members. Drgos thinks by putting himself out there he can gain exposure for his party's platform.
"We are just starting to gain ground," Drgos said. "The more people start hearing our message, the more people are going to start understanding and believing it."
Being a Third Party Candidate in Congress
"It’s going to be difficult. I do see where I would have to fight both sides," Drgos said. "I do believe there is an advantage to me because I don’t have to adhere to a party caucus. Essentially, I can vote my conscious."
Drgos said he thinks there are a lot of people in Congress right now who probably want to vote their conscious. He said in an idealistic sense, he would hope his ability to work with both sides on legislation could serve as a model for how Congress should operate.
Maryland Dream Act
"I’ll be honest," Drgos said. "I don’t know where I fall with that. There are certain aspects that are written where I agree with it."
He said he would be hard pressed to exclude students from receiving in-state tuition because their parents brought them to the United States as children.
"My personal viewpoint on the whole thing is: The government—statewide or national—shouldn’t be involved in marriage period," Drgos said.
He thinks marriage is a religious ceremony and homosexual and heterosexual couples should sign a civil partnership agreement in order to be recognized by the state for taxes and legal purposes.
"The bill is more than 2,000 pages long, and, just like 99 percent of the congressmen in office, I have not made it through the whole bill," Drgos said.
He doesn't favor arbitrary lengths on legislation, but he said he thinks laws should be written in a way that lawmakers can find the time to read through them.
There are certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act that Drgos favors keeping in place like the extension of parental benefits to children up until age 26.
"I couldn’t afford to go to college the whole time either. Some of us have to go and work and support our families or to support our new families," Drgos said. "I don’t think the whole thing should be thrown out."
If Drgos, whose serves his day job as a computer programmer in Beltsville, wins the election, it will be his first political office.
He said he does have experience balancing budgets larger than his own. He spent a number of years on the Chesterfield Homeowners Association where he said they always managed to balance the budget.
"I’m hoping that the people in this district will look at what’s being going on in the two party system and will really think about a third party option before they go into the booth," Drgos said. "There are no special interest groups behind me."
To learn more about Paul Drgos, click here.
Read where the other candidates for District 3 stand on the issues:
Rep. Sarbanes Talks Politics and Policy
House Candidate Eric Knowles Talks Issues