Kentucky voters head to the polls this November to choose the state's next set of constitutional officers, including the position of governor. While most are familiar with Republican incumbent Matt Bevin and Democratic challenger, Attorney General Andy Beshear, some may not be aware of a third option: Libertarian candidate, business consultant John Hicks.
When asked why voters should choose him over Matt Bevin and Andy Beshear, Hicks said he’s “the one candidate that hasn’t been yelling at another candidate for the past four years.” Hicks say he’s running on the themes of liberty, civility and election reform. “Depending on the voter I think civility might be something where I really shine,” he said.
Hicks said Libertarians believe a large part of problem with the lack of civility in politics is due to the two-party system. “It basically exaggerates our differences,” he said, adding that election reform could help overcome the challenge.
Hicks said the biggest issues affecting the state involves the “snarl” in pension funding, legalizing marijuana and election reform. On pensions, he said he believes Bevin is doing the right thing, but takes issue with his rhetoric and says it's necessary to get the parties working together. On marijuana, he said one doesn’t have to be a “pot head” to understand that criminalizing marijuana has made criminals of good people, burdens the prison system and ruins lives. On election reform, he said he’s advocating for runoff elections “so the winner always gets the majority of the votes” and said computers allow for precise instant runoff, ranked-choice voting. Another election reform measure, he said, involves proportional representation for elected assemblies.
The Libertarian Party of Kentucky website features a graphic that suggests the party is in the middle when it comes to the left/right ideological divide. Hicks says the Libertarian Party is in a position to appeal to both the left and right. “We’re the only party that really stands up for civil liberties the way the Democrats used to. We’re the only party that really stands up for living sustainably and self sustainably, fiscally responsible, pay-as-you-go, the way the Republicans used to. We’re against crony capitalism. We call ourselves the ‘live and let live’ party. Against war in general - against the war on drugs, in particular. I think we’re in a beautiful position now to appeal to people in both parties and independents.”
Hicks said there are stereotypes about Libertarians that aren’t true, such as the notion that the party tends to pull from Republican voters. Hicks said he believes Gary Johnson votes (he was the Libertarian candidate in the 2016 presidential election) drew equally from the left and the right. “We have a lot of differences,” Hicks said, “And we’ve learned - we know how to get along with each other.”
When asked about his thoughts on President Trump, Hicks said he didn’t vote for him, but said there are parallels between the president and Bevin. “Both of them do have a libertarian streak in that they understand that regulation can get in the way and that business is important to prosperity. Trump seems to be playing a game where he’s sort of - he’s manipulating the press to a great extent with his statements and it’s hard to really read between the lines and to see what he really stands for,” Hicks said. He added that Libertarians believe Trump tends to be politically expedient, which happens to be Libertarian to an extent. He said he believes Bevin’s “main problem” is how he delivers his rhetoric and how he engages with people who disagree with him.
Hicks says he and other Libertarians will be at the Fancy Farm Picnic this weekend.
He said the party is working on recruiting candidates for next year.