WLWT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio, interviewed Kentucky Libertarian Party candidate for Governor John Hicks on October 29:
When Kentuckians head to the polls on Nov. 5, most of them will be deciding between Republican Gov. Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear.
But there’s a third name on the ballot in the gubernatorial race and there’s a possibility he could tilt the outcome one way or the other.
His name is John Hicks.
He’s professorial and polite in manner. Thoughtful in his political positions on the issues. He’s a native Kentuckian, a Libertarian and a serious-minded reformer.
Every pundit in the Bluegrass would say he doesn’t have a prayer of getting elected. But his spoiler potential is worth considering and tracking on election night.
Polling at 1% with little money and even less name recognition, Hicks plows ahead in undeterred fashion.
“I’m the only one of the three candidates that hasn’t spent the past four years yelling at the other one,” he tells one woman on the street to make a point about the contentious clashes between Bevin and Beshear.
He perseveres with what seems like an endless task of introducing himself.
“My name is John Hicks. My name will be on the ballot. Let me give you my card here,” is how he often approaches strangers to talk politics for a moment or two.
And they seem to listen.
He concentrates mostly on parades and festivals and likes the grassroots one-to-one discussion he can generate by just being himself.
He is the largely unknown third of three running for governor.
The Bluegrass is well acquainted with the Republican incumbent and the Democrat challenger, who are neck and neck with 46% each in the latest Mason Dixon poll.
That potentially gives Hicks spoiler status, since 7% in that poll were undecided.
Hicks told us he’s hoping to be the spoiler in the race.
“Because that will wake people up. If we’re a spoiler, if we have enough of a spread that we can affect the outcome of the election then people will realize we do need runoff elections.”
Election reform is what motivates him, along with liberty and civility, the three pillars of his Libertarian Party platform.
He spoke to us about it at Warsaw’s Riverfront Park in Gallatin County, saying “Just having our name on the ballot is going to be good advertising.”
His running mate is Ann Cormican, an Iowa native who worked at the Toyota plant in Georgetown for 25 years.
His literature states with a bit of a sting, “You may not have noticed us because we haven’t been shouting and suing our opponents for the past four years.”
Hicks jokingly said he could probably get attention and higher name recognition by putting on some sort of clown-like outfit and campaigning that way, but that’s not how he wants to present himself or his views on the issues.
When asked about the effort to gain traction for the Libertarian Party, he responded “We’re drawing from the Democrats and the Republicans because we’re pro-civil liberties. We’re all for free speech, we’re for separation of church and state, civil rights.”
He’s also against abortion, adamant about avoiding war, exercising fiscal restraint, legalizing pot and lowering taxes.
“What’s your thoughts on Second Amendment rights?” he was asked by a man pumping gas along the main stretch of Warsaw.
No new gun laws, he answered, telling us it’s essential to get at the root causes of gun violence which includes understanding the spike in suicides in recent years.
He is an army veteran from the Vietnam-era, an IT consultant and a former community newspaper publisher.
He is the only candidate among the three who actually taught school for a couple of years.
That was at the public high school level in the Jefferson County system.
Hicks gives Bevin credit for tackling the pension problem, but a failing grade for his approach.
“I believe his main problem has been just his rhetoric and his personality, perhaps. I think I can work with the teachers where he can’t,” Hicks said.
He’s trying to get that message out, one voter at a time, stressing how political polarization and voter alienation are unhealthy links to the election system.
He campaigns for adopting instant run-off elections which he said would guarantee no one would win with a minority of votes.
Hicks knows he is bucking a political establishment that has a vested interest in the perpetuation of the two-party system.
It’s a system he described as rotten to the core.
John Hicks’ candidate website: HicksCormicanForKentucky.com