'It’s dirty politics’: Libertarian Party members unhappy after candidate endorses incumbent Lee in NC Senate race

Ethan Bickley (left), the Libertarian candidate running in the District 9 state senate race,...
Ethan Bickley (left), the Libertarian candidate running in the District 9 state senate race, has publicly endorsed incumbent Sen. Michael Lee.(WECT)
Updated: Nov. 1, 2018 at 7:55 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Members of the Libertarian Party expressed disappointment after Ethan Bickley, a Libertarian candidate running for the District 9 seat in the North Carolina Senate, announced Wednesday he has decided to endorse the incumbent in the race, Sen. Michael Lee, a Republican seeking re-election to a third term representing most of New Hanover County.

Brent DeRidder, the vice chairman for North Carolina’s Libertarian Party, expressed his disappointment at Bickley’s decision.

“We fight hard against the idea that we’re Republican-light or Conservative Democrats,” DeRidder said in an emailed news release. “Libertarians have a distinct ideology It’s disappointing when any Libertarian endorses big government, but it’s particularly painful when it comes from a Libertarian candidate.”

One other Libertarian running in the General Election said he is not happy with Bickley’s announcement.

“It’s dirty politics, but we will endure,”said David Perry, a candidate for the District 19 House seat held by Rep. Ted Davis.

In a news release, Bickley said he recently decided he is no longer able to commit to his campaign “due to new employment opportunities”.

“First of all, I apologize to the Libertarian Party for having to discontinue my campaign,” Buckley said in the news release. “I really wanted to make an impact on my community. I now feel that by endorsing Senator Lee, my candidacy can still have an impact by asking my supporters to make their votes count.”

Bickley said he met with Sen. Lee before deciding to make the endorsement public. In a statement, Sen. Lee said the two met more than once to discuss the issues.

“I am particularly impressed with his efforts to provide relief from Hurricane Florence and to protect our drinking waters with the bill he wrote and we saw passed earlier this year – the Water Safety Act,” Bickley added in the news release.

“I appreciate Mr. Bickley taking the time to get to know me, the real me and not what the false ads portray,” Sen. Lee said. “We spent time over the course of several meetings talking about the issues and what is important to New Hanover County and our State. At the end of our last meeting, Mr. Bickley explained to me that he would endorse my candidacy. I sincerely appreciate his endorsement and his views on the issues important to New Hanover County and North Carolina.”

Former Wilmington Mayor Harper Peterson is the Democratic candidate running in the District 9 race.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 6.

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