JEFFERSON CITY — Charles Baum is a long shot to win the state auditor's race in next week's election, but the St. Louis native originally had his eye on an even higher prize.
"I couldn't run for president, so I decided to run for state auditor," Baum said.
The Libertarian candidate said his party deserves a fighting chance.
"The Libertarian Party stands for something very simple. We stand for less government and more personal responsibility," Baum said in a telephone interview. "Most people would believe in the same thing."
Baum believes most Americans are Libertarian at heart, but they don't vote that way for two reasons: they don't know what the Libertarian Party stands for or they don't want to throw away their vote.
He said some voters believe that if they're wasting their ballot if they cast it for a third-party candidate. But he thinks the opposite is true. Voting for a major party candidate causes one's vote to get lost among the multitudes.
"Unless your candidate wins by one vote," Baum said.
Baum said he isn't discouraged about running against the incumbent Democrat, Susan Montee, and a well-connected Republican, Tom Schweich. He says on his website that as a Libertarian, he is best suited for the state auditor position because the office must remain independent of party ties.
Baum said that power breeds corruption, but he stopped short of accusing Montee of any wrongdoing.
"I'm not saying Susan Montee has done a bad job," he said, "but I have an advantage because I am not encumbered by a major party."
Baum acknowledged that he lacks experience but said it's important that the state auditor be objective. He also thinks it's time that someone prevail over Democrats and Republicans and challenged voters to ask themselves whether the major parties sincerely represent their values.
"Our country could really benefit from a stronger third party," he said.
Baum is a financial planner and mentor at Renaissance Financial. He likes to garden at his home in University City. He and his wife, Carol, became grandparents recently when their only daughter, Jennifer, gave birth to a girl.