Greg Knott is running for the Monroe County Council District Four seat as a Republican in the primary election, partly because running as a Libertarian might harm his chances of winning the general election, he said.
“It would be easier to get elected as a Republican or Democrat than it would be to get elected as any third-party candidate,” Knott said. “I can have the most effect and most impact to promote those principles by running under the party label that would give me the best opportunity to hold office.”
Marjorie Hershey, a professor in the IU Department of Political Science, said the United States’ winner-take-all, single-member district system makes it very difficult for minor party candidates like Knott to ever win office.
“The fact that most Americans identify with one of the two major parties makes it hard for minor party candidates to raise money, get name recognition and, therefore, get votes,” Hershey said.
Although Knott might do better in a location other than Bloomington that is more Libertarian-friendly, Hershey said she does not think geography makes much of a difference when it comes to actually winning a race as a third-party candidate.
As of 2012, about seven out of 7,000 state legislators represented minor parties, Hershey said.
“I don’t think there’s much doubt that Greg Knott has a better chance of winning office if he runs as a Republican than as a Libertarian,” Hershey said.
Instead of alienating himself from the Republican Party, Knott said he sees his Libertarian views as a particular wing of the party — the “Ron Paul wing.”
Generally, Knott believes liberty relies on owning one’s own body and avoiding government interference without infringing on the rights of others.
In the past, Knott has run as a Libertarian candidate in the Ninth District Congressional race under the slogan “No Bull.” The Indiana Democratic Party sent out mail promoting Knott as the only true conservative in the race as a way to steal away votes from the Republican Party candidate.
Political tactics aside, Knott said he thinks there’s a lot of common ground between the various parties, at least at the local level.
On the federal level, disagreements between the parties would be more frequent, he said.
“There’s a lot of overlap between people who think as Libertarians,” Knott said. “Not everybody who thinks as a Libertarian is solely a member of the Libertarian Party.”
One of the issues Knott said crosses party lines is the Monroe County food and beverage tax, or, as Knott calls it, the “pizza and beer tax.”
“I’m the most conservative one because I’m opposing a new tax, but I’m also the most progressive person on it because I’m looking out for the lower-income individuals that would be taken advantage of,” Knott said.
The criminal justice system is another area where Knott thinks there’s potential for Republicans and Democrats to work together. While some Republicans are very pro-law-and-order, Knott said he thinks prison time should be a last resort for a lot of offenders.
“I think many people would recognize that treatment is a better option for a lot of nonviolent offenders, such as drug offenders,” Knott said.
Finally, Knott, who sits on a committee at Bledsoe Riggert and Guerrettaz Incorporated that purchases health care for employees, wants to offer cash incentives to high-risk employees that would allow them to move into the Affordable Care Act market place.
“I think voters would judge me for what impact it would have on the local county employees and the local county budget, both of which would be positive,” Knott said.