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Posted 3/12/2003

The Maryland Libertarian Party made a quixotic stab at the State House last fall, drafting a retired small-business owner from Crownsville, Spear Lancaster, to tilt at the political windmills. Lancaster tackled the task as gracefully as possible, turning on his charm and straight-talking with voters and the press about civil liberties and economic freedom. The message didn't resonate--Lancaster got less than 1 percent of the vote last November. But the Libertarian love of all things free, it turns out, also extends to the campaign coffers: Spear recently wrote off $20,000 in loans--nearly half the cost of the campaign--he made to help bankroll the effort.

"I knew up-front that I was going to be stuck with the bill," Lancaster tells the Nose. "The Libertarian Party is big on idealism but short on finances, so I saw early on that there was no chance I was going to recoup it. My wife wasn't all that happy, but I consider it like giving money to charity."

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