GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Keith Butkovich is running under the Natural Law Party for Michigan's next governor, though he says he knows it's a long shot.
Butkovich, 34, says he's lived in Michigan all his life and became interested in politics in high school. His views align with Libertarian values. He first ran for office in 2012 for Wayne County Commissioner as a Libertarian candidate. He then ran again as a Libertarian in 2014 for Wayne County Executive.
However, Butkovich now feels at odds with the structure of the Libertarian Party and other traditional parties.
“Internal party politics, different changing of views, I was not happy with the presidential ticket at all," Butkovich says. "The state party, there’s a lot of internal issues that have really turned me off with leadership and actions and so forth.”
The Natural Law Party was founded in 1992 with the goal of "bringing the light of science into politics," according to CNN. The party drew on the principles of meditation to solve problems in politics. The modern Natural Law Party has let go of these values and is fluid to each candidate.
Butkovich did not attend college and currently lives outside Detroit where he works full time as a department manager in a grocery store. His running mate is Raymond Warner.
One issue Butkovich feels passionately about is making car insurance optional for Michiganders.
"I would go something further, which I don’t think any candidate says because I’m a big liberty guy," Butkovich says. "I believe in freedom and you know, very minimal government. I would actually move that car insurance should be optional.”
When asked about the consequences of at-fault drivers not being able to pay for the damage they inflict on others, Butkovich says the freedom to choose is more important.
“That’s a problem, it could be an issue but pretty much that would be one of the things that you would, a chance you’d have to take you know, whether you want car insurance or not," Butkovich says.
Butkovich says he would also eliminate speed limits on freeways.
“If you’re going 75 and you know, you could safely go 90 or whatever, I just feel that it’s you know, it’s a freedom thing," Butkovich says.
Butkovich says he aligns with the Democratic party with many social issues, like gay rights.
His consistent philosophy is cutting government regulations. In fact, he says that he doesn't think any bill should be longer than 10 pages. He adds that if elected, he hopes to set the record for the number of bills vetoed.
“I’m not a power-hungry guy, you know," Butkovich says. "If I somehow win, I wouldn’t be the ‘Oh look at me. I’m governor.’ You know, I’m myself. I’m Keith. I’ve lived here all my life. I’m a citizen just like you.”
Butkovich says he knows it's unlikely that he or any other third party candidate will win the gubernatorial race but that his campaign still carries importance.
“If I finish third, that would, I think would be a miracle," Butkovich says. "I know how, I already have a prediction of how the election’s going to go and it doesn’t involve me in the governor's seat but the main thing is, I think the rule of third parties is to get new ideas out there or different perspectives."
He says that third party candidates should be taken more seriously by pollsters and the media. Most debates require participants to be polling at least 10 percent.
“That’s part of the problem. If you don’t even list me in the polls, how can I get the required 10 percent to get in the debate?”
Butkovich hopes that his run will carry some symbolic value, even without earning the majority of the vote.
"It’s symbolic, like hey, you know I’ll be on the record books but at the same time maybe someone will say, ‘Hey this Butkovich guy. He ran on optional car insurance and you know, legalizing gambling and drugs and you know,'" Butkovich says.
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