Candidates Scott, Smith show camaraderie during polarizing political climate

By Holly Morgan

Sep 05, 2019 2:00 AM
With the Ninth District special election less than a week away, some voters may think they only have two choices at the polls, but candidates Allen Smith and Jeff Scott want to remind voters they have four options.
Scott, a Libertarian, and Smith, a Green Party affiliate, have a camaraderie that is largely unseen between members of different political parties. Technically, they are running against each other, but together, their mission is to let voters know that they have more options than just Republican or Democrat.

When asked how they would advise members of the Republican and Democratic parties to be friendly to each other, Scott and Smith said that it comes down to perspective. Because third party candidates are not pushed to get votes like Republican and Democratic candidates, Smith and Scott do not have to see each other as opponents. Smith said because there is low representation of third parties in U.S. Congress, it enables third party candidates to “express themselves” and not be “beholden” to party lines which means they are more “open and flexible to find common ground.”
“By not having that finger over us, pushing us around, I think that’s one thing that has helped us have that camaraderie,” Smith said.

Scott and Smith have both run for elected office before. Scott ran in the Ninth Congressional District race in 2018 and Smith ran for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education in 2017 to represent District 6.
Scott said one thing he and Smith have learned is that the “people you are running against are not monsters. They are not demons. They are not some representative of some terrible ideology. They are potential co-workers…You have to think of them as someone you’re going to be in a position to work with.” Meaning, candidates could end up working with their opponents in a different capacity should that opponent be elected to a separate office. Like if a candidate loses in an election, then moves to a different district, runs again and wins. Their previous opponent is re-elected to their seat. Now, the two candidates having won their seats in different districts have to work together.

Not only did they sit down together with the Enquirer-Journal for an interview, but they also rode together in the same car to the interview.
Part of Scott and Smith’s mission to inform voters about third parties is vying for a seat in a debate with Republican and Democratic candidates.
Scott said third party candidates are not invited to debates because the Republican and Democratic parties are “very powerful, they’ve got a very serious interests at stake – in particular 2020.” Meaning, many seats will be up for election in the House, Senate, and it’s a presidential election year.
“They really don’t like the competition,” Scott continued. If candidates were kinder, more friendly to each other, would that same behavior extend to voters? Smith thinks the major parties “stoke fear to rile up their bases.”
“That’s something critical third party candidates can do – is to pull back that curtain to say, ‘hey, this is what’s actually going on.’ We can be civil we can disagree about some things this is what discourse is supposed to look like.”
Scott thinks, that voters “aspire to be civil.” He said voters “appreciate” that Scott and Smith can be civil during a forum. Scott wonders if aspiring for civility is enough to “animate” voters and encourage them to choose a third party candidate.

On behalf of Republican candidate Dan Bishop, Donald Trump Jr. gave a stump speech last week and Vice President Pence will give a stump speech on Monday, Sept. 9 at Wingate University. When Mark Harris ran in the Ninth District race in 2018, Laura Trump gave a stump speech on his behalf at the Union County GOP office in Indian Trail. Because third party candidates do not have the same resources or funding as the Republican and Democratic parties, they sometimes cannot invite high profile politicians to give stump speeches on their behalf.

Joking, Scott said if he could, he would exhume the body of Thomas Jefferson and have it at one of his events. Smith said he would do the same, but choose Nelson Mandela.

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