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Pizza Guy Is Shaking Up North Carolina Senate Race

Megan Morr/For the Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- By day, Sean Haugh delivers pizzas and resells old books on Amazon. But moonlighting as North Carolina’s Libertarian Senate candidate, he could serve up the state’s hotly contested Senate seat to Democrats in November.

“I’m very much a factor in the race,” Haugh told ABC News.

If the contest between Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican state House Speaker Thom Tillis remains narrowly divided in the final weeks of the race, political strategists believe Haugh could siphon votes away from Tillis and help hand the incumbent Democrat a victory. Democrats believe North Carolina is increasingly becoming their best firewall to stop Republicans from picking up the six seats needed to win control of the Senate.

“If it’s really close -- people might say even at 2 percent -- Haugh would be playing a role in the outcome,” said North Carolina State University political scientist Andrew Taylor.

Haugh, 53, is no stranger to state politics. He ran for Senate as a Libertarian in 2002, and has also worked with the state’s Libertarian Party in various capacities. He said he entered the race in February as an “act of conscience.”

“There wasn’t any Libertarian stepping up,” he said.

His platform, laid out in a series of low-fi YouTube videos filmed at the home bar in his campaign manager’s basement, calls for “peace and fiscal security,” and an alternative to candidates “owned by outside corporate interests.”

In 2002, Haugh received 34,000 votes, roughly 1.5 percent of the electorate. Even with little more than $7,000 in contributions and his YouTube channel, he is optimistic about his chances this year.

“We have two candidates out there that are really unacceptable,” Haugh said. “People are repulsed by the negativity and look for an alternative.”

Republicans see a path to reclaiming the Senate majority through Sen. Kay Hagan’s seat in the increasingly conservative state. While vulnerable, the freshman Democrat has proven surprisingly resilient.

“Hagan has run a perfect race with no mistakes,” said Larry Shaheen, a North Carolina Republican strategist.

Hagan led Tillis 46 percent to 43 percent in a recent CNN poll. Haugh captured 7 percent of likely voters in the same survey -- votes both major party candidates could sorely miss on Election Day should the race remain close.

Republicans have enlisted the likes of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to boost Tillis on the campaign trail. Sen. Rand Paul appeared with Tillis in Raleigh Wednesday.

Paul endorsed tea party candidate Greg Brannon in the Republican primary, but has lent his Libertarian credentials to Tillis' efforts. Besides his appearance Wednesday, the Kentucky Republican has filmed ads with the Chamber of Commerce that will air in the state in support of Tillis.

“Republicans are worried,” Haugh said of his candidacy. “They’ve got a lot of internal problems with the party.”

Neither campaign responded to requests from ABC News for comment on Haugh’s campaign.

Haugh’s calls for ending American military intervention and legalizing marijuana make him a “different kind of Libertarian” than those who could siphon away conservative voters from Republicans in Senate races, said Taylor.

“It would be wrong for Tillis to worry about Haugh, and not his head-to-head matchup with Hagan,” he said.

But Haugh called the attention his campaign has received a “tremendous victory.”

“However many votes I get, that’s a message,” he said.

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