Your Editor can confirm from the first-hand source that a senior staff member from the Gary Johnson (Republican) for President campaign has contacted a member of the Libertarian National Committee about determining the response if Johnson were to switch parties and run for President as a Libertarian. Johnson, who is a former two-term Republican Governor, has been shut out of Republican Presidential debates in favor of candidates who he out-polls. Older members of our Party will remember Johnson directly; he appeared at one of our State Conventions and gave the keynote address.
Phillies sought, but did not receive, the Libertarian Party Presidential nomination in 2008, and the Libertarian National Committee Chair position several times, including 2010. He has served in a number of local and state positions in the Massachusetts LP, including Chair and Congressional candidate.
Johnson’s statement about the latest debate exclusion:
“If Republicans and Independents were looking for new ideas and decisive plans in the debate, they were disappointed. That’s what happens when the media decides, six months before the first ballots are cast, who should be allowed on the stage. Much of the debate was about the records of the governors running for president. Where was the governor who vetoed 750 bills to control the size of government? Much was said about job creation — or lack thereof — in those governors’ states. Where was the governor whose state had more job creation than any of them? And where was the governor who polls show to be the most highly regarded in the state he governed? I suspect voters would like to hear from the one governor among them all who actually did the things that need to be done today to right America’s ship.
“There is much to debate in this country today, and within the Republican party. But we didn’t see or hear a debate tonight. We saw business-as-usual wrapped in a bunch of different packages.”
According to Seth McLaughlin at the Washington Times,
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is the Rodney Dangerfield of this year’s GOP presidential field — he gets no respect, despite a strong conservative record, a stint as governor of a key state, and a colorful background in the public and private sectors.
In a year when voters seem tired of what is seen as wasteful spending and regulatory overreach in Washington, Mr. Johnson said he is surprised he is not getting the attention of other governors who have served fewer years, or whose campaigns are sputtering, or who aren’t even in the race.
A similar line is echoed by Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone, in an article titled “Meet Gary Johnson, the GOP’s Invisible Candidate”:
Gary Johnson is the Rodney Dangerfield of the GOP’s 2012 field. He gets no respect. Despite being a successful former two-term governor of New Mexico who shrank state government by wielding his veto pen with fervor, an entrepreneur who sold the 1,000 person construction business he built from scratch, and an accomplished athlete (who else in the field has summited Everest?) Johnson has struggled to break through – with voters or the press.
The latest insult? CNN – which saw fit to invite Herman Cain, the former CEO of a third-rate pizza chain who has never held elected office, to its debate in New Hampshire the other night – told Johnson to take a hike because he’s polling below 2 percent.
That’s a shame, because in an interview with Rolling Stone, Johnson proved himself to be one of the more honest – and certainly more unorthodox – politicians in the running.
Johnson calls himself a “classical liberal,” though others might prefer “libertarian.” He favors legalizing marijuana (he says he toked up as recently as 2008) and prostitution and supports a woman’s right to choose, liberal immigration reform and an anti-war foreign policy – even as he’s called for draconian spending cuts and for dropping the corporate tax rate to zero as a means to jumpstart jobs creation.
Johnson’s biggest problem in the Republican Presidential primaries may be the campaign of Ron Paul, a Republican Congressman and 2008/2012 GOP presidential nomination candidate who is also a life member of the Libertarian Party, 1988 Libertarian Presidential nominee, and 2008 general election supporter of Constitution Party presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin.
Ron Paul has also received relatively little media attention given his poll numbers and fundraising, but unlike Johnson he is being invited to this year’s debates, and has much better poll numbers, media coverage and fundraising totals relative to Johnson. If Paul is a top tier candidate being treated as a second tier candidate, Johnson may be a second tier candidate being treated as if he does not exist.
A good deal of Johnson’s support comes from libertarians associated with the Reason/CATO wing of the movement, which dominated the Libertarian Party from the mid-1970s to 1983, when they lost the presidential nomination. Ron Paul’s core supporters also left the Libertarian Party in 1989, when they lost a battle for national committee chair; they are centered around Lew Rockwell and the Mises Institute. The Rothbard/Rockwell/Mises vs. CATO/Reason split in the libertarian movement goes back to about 1980. The Rothbard/Rockwell/Mises side accuses the CATO/Reason crowd of being too moderate on foreign policy and economic issues, while the CATO/Reasonites consider the Rockwellians to be too socially conservative. For many years during the 1990s and 2000s, both sides had little to do with the Libertarian Party. If the rumors about Johnson switching to the LP prove to be true, it is possible that this may change.