Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie
Rod Hanscomb at the Hartford Public Library debate (Christine Stuart / ctnewsjunkie)

HARTFORD, CT — Rod Hanscomb said he didn’t even know he was a Libertarian until he started exploring a run for governor.

A heating and air conditioning salesman, Hanscomb said he spent most of his time talking to customers about everything except the products he was selling them. In those conversations, he kept hearing from people that they needed another choice beyond the two-party system.

“The reason I never knew I was a Libertarian is because the national party does an awful job messaging,” Hanscomb said.

He said he’s “fiscally conservative and socially liberal,” but too many people in the party talk about “fringe” issues when they get the microphone, which keeps the party at 3 percent.

“When they start blogging about hemp and cryptocurrency, you just lose the vast majority of people,” Hanscomb said during an interview at the Hartford Public Library Tuesday.

Hanscomb said he wants to eliminate the income tax as quickly as possible, but in order to do that he’s going to have to raise the sales tax to 9 or 9.5 percent. It’s currently 6.35 percent.

“Nine of the 10 fastest growing cities right now are in states where there is no income tax,” Hanscomb said. “All nine of those cities are in just five states.”

He said the model of no income tax and high sales tax is what’s working in all five of those states: Texas, Florida, Nevada, Washington, and Tennessee.

“Connecticut does not have a revenue problem, it has a spending problem,” Hanscomb said.

He said the other part of his platform involves lowering the cost of healthcare.

“It’s shocking what these premiums are running,” Hanscomb said.

He said Connecticut needs to cut out insurance companies and to figure out the actual cost of medical care by paying doctors directly for their services. He said there’s a lot of costs built into the system that get passed along to the consumer for no good reason.

“There needs to be upfront price transparency just like any business,” Hanscomb said.

He said the cost of healthcare is holding back Connecticut’s economic growth.

A Universal Health Care Foundation survey of 900 voters found that four out of five residents reported being “worried” or “very worried” about affording some aspect of healthcare.

But can Hanscomb compete?

Hanscomb received 1 percent of the vote in an early August poll and 2 percent in an AARP poll, but he wasn’t included in Wednesday’s Quinnipiac University poll and he hasn’t been invited to any debates with the two major party candidates, Ned Lamont and Bob Stefanowski. Even though he has the backing of the third largest party in the country, he has less visibility than Oz Griebel, who also petitioned his way onto the ballot.

Hanscomb was at the Hartford Public Library Tuesday to debate Griebel and Mark Stewart Greenstein, who also petitioned his way onto the ballot.

According to the latest fundraising numbers, Hanscomb loaned his campaign $10,000 and has raised about $4,700 from individuals.

He said the $37,000 settlement the city of Meriden paid to state Libertarian Party Chairman Dan Reale for removing him from the Daffodil Festival while he was collecting signatures will also go toward the campaigns.

Hanscomb said they raised over $30,000 in five days for their petition drive in order to get all of their candidates to qualify for the ballot. He said the money was used to pay people collecting the signatures so they could get on the ballot.

Still, it’s the first time in 20 years the Libertarian Party is on the ballot, which is no small feat. The party is running candidates for all statewide offices, including comptroller, treasurer, and secretary of the state.