"I don't have any obligation to party loyalty, which means that I can form coalitions on both sides on specific issues," he said. "I think that's going to be something, as a representative for this district, that will be helpful. You don't have to worry about blind partisanship from me."
Ruiz, 27, grew up near Michigan City and earned a bachelor's degree in business management at Indiana Wesleyan University. He lives in Mishawaka with his wife and their two children, ages 1 and 3.
Since 2006, he's worked with at-risk youths at the Family and Children's Center.
Ruiz said he's always been interested in politics, and he was a Democrat for many years. He voted for President Barack Obama in 2008 but quickly became disenchanted with him.
He went soul searching, checking out tea party and Libertarian meetings. He decided the Libertarian view -- which calls for smaller government, lower taxes and spending, less military intervention in foreign affairs and more government transparency -- best matched his philosophy.
Ruiz then took another step and filed as a candidate for the state's 2nd Congressional District seat.
"I'd watch the news and think to myself, 'What are they thinking?' Sometimes I'd yell at the TV as if it were a football game. It just stirred me up inside the way some people get excited about athletics," he said.
"I thought to myself, 'You can be that type of person who sits around and yells at the TV, but you're going to be pretty bitter. Or you can go out and try to make a change,'" he said. "Win, lose or draw, I'm going to be able to tell my grandchildren that I believed in something enough to try to change it -- although I'd prefer the win."
Many local Republicans viewed Libertarian Mark Vogel as the spoiler in the 2nd District race two years ago.
While Democrat Joe Donnelly won re-election, topping Republican Jackie Walorski by about 2,500 votes, nearly 9,500 voters in the district cast their ballots for Vogel.
The Indiana Democratic Party also used Vogel to their benefit. The party sent out 20,000 mailers, advertising Vogel as the "true conservative" in the race, just days before the election.
Ruiz said no one should complain about a close race. If Democrats or Republicans are afraid a third-party candidate might spoil their chances, he said, "They should have picked better candidates."
Staff writer Kevin Allen: email@example.com 574-235-6244