As long as Virgil Goode has been in politics, he's played the role of a spoiler.
In 2012, he just might do it again. The Constitution Party candidate for the presidency is on the ballot in some two dozen states, including his home of Virginia.
With spotty polling showing Mr. Goode garnering as much as the high single digits in support in Virginia (but without substantial polling in other states), some analysts wonder if Goode could play the role of a conservative Ralph Nader, siphoning just enough would-be GOP voters away from Mitt Romney to cost the Republican presidential nominee a key battleground state.
Goode, for his part, told the Washington Post he believes he'll do "quite well" and is running because he simply isn't impressed with Mr. Romney as a true alternative to President Obama.
If that does come to pass, it would be just the last in a long line of contrarian moves by the former six-term US congressman from the Charlottesville, Va., area.
When he was a Democratic state senator from Rocky Mount, Va., in the early 1990s, he broke with his party to give Republicans shared power of the state Senate. That move that helped pave the way for some of then-Gov. George Allen's most ambitious reforms.
As a Democratic congressman, Goode – already isolated from his Democratic colleagues for his staunch opposition to abortion and his advocacy of the tobacco industry – voted for three of four articles of impeachment against President Bill Clinton in 1998. He formally became a Republican soon thereafter.
Despite having been a member of both parties, Goode has donated to only one presidential candidate – libertarian superstar Rep. Ron Paul (R) of Texas, to whom he gave $500 in 2007.
Goode sent out a 10-minute video addressing issues that Mr. Obama and Romney discussed in their first presidential debate.
Goode's defining issue is his hard line against immigration.
"Unlike President Obama and Governor Romney, I recognize that the US citizen should be first in line for jobs in America," Goode said in the video, arguing for a "near-complete moratorium" on allowing foreign green card holders into the US.
And how would Goode, a perpetual defector, solve gridlock in Washington?
"Term limits," Goode says in his debate video. "If we had term limits, the focus of the members of Congress would be on what's best for the country, instead of worrying about going to the next fundraiser and winning the next election."
– David Grant, staff writer