SAVANNAH — By now, Bill Bolton suspects he won't be the next governor.
The 62-year-old engineer and consultant drew only 2.2 percent of the vote in the 2006 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
He's also twice run for mayor of his hometown of Marietta, peaking at 22 percent of the vote on his second try.
"I think I can make a difference even if I don't win by having an influence on the ideas that are discussed and debated," Bolton said.
Bolton advocates "citizen capitalism," which he defines as "the idea that we can choose our own business endeavors."
He wants to free up prospective entrepreneurs from what he considers a stifling maze of corporate and union special interests.
He'd like it to be easier for people to become teachers, lawyers and other professionals. There is too much control by self-serving accreditation groups, he said.
"We have what I call a dependency syndrome, which discourages people from taking initiative unless they follow the dictates of some group," Bolton said.
But Bolton believes the key to citizen capitalism is educational reform.
As in other areas, he would like to do away with the middleman, at least as much as possible, in schools.
He wants students to be self-motivated, and, with the help of computers and online resources, become self-directed learners.
He's a little vague about how, as governor, he would translate his vision into reality.
"Basically," he said, "I would encourage a careful review of the laws to see which ones help move us in the right direction and which ones hinder us."
But he has already decided that some are hindrances.
Bolton favors reforming criminal justice by reducing penalties for "victimless crimes" such as possession of marijuana and prostitution.
People convicted of them should not be in state prisons, he said.
"That costs the taxpayers millions of dollars because of a legal system set up to promote right-wing ideals about what is wrong and right," he said.
Bolton calls for promoting family values, but says that shouldn't involve religion.
"It's fine to consider what impact policies have on families," he said. "But that impact should be weighed and evaluated without reference to what god you believe in. Decisions should be based on results and success."
His water policy is unlikely to be popular in the Atlanta region, where officials are eager to draw on the supplies of other regions.
Espousing a "spaceship" approach, he says all of the state's water basin should rely on their own resources. That is, Atlanta shouldn't be able to raid other areas, such as the Savannah River.
"We need more recycling and reuse," he said. "It's going to happen sooner or later."
Bolton has no shortage of other ideas.
"Loopholes violate our right to fair taxation," he said. "Illegal immigration violates our right to work.
"Bailouts and corporate welfare violate our right to build small businesses."