Jonathan Johnson, Former Overstock.com President: “Most Utah Republicans Lean Libertarian”

Jonathon Johnson Jonathan Johnson, former Utah-based Overstock.com President (who endorsed Ron Paul over Mitt Romney in 2012), has announced his intention to run for Governor of Utah in 2016. His just hired campaign manager, Dave Hansen, managed Congresswoman Mia Love’s 2014 election to the US Congress (Utah’s 4th District) and describes Johnson as having, “a bit of Libertarian in him, as do most Republicans.” (1)

(Mia Love’s loss two years earlier was attributed by some to the (Big-L) Libertarian candidate, Jim Vein, who received over 5,000 more votes than the difference between Love and her Democratic opponent. (2) )

Johnson has said his Latter Day Saint (LDS) faith is the foundation of is political views, “ . . . Liberty is a key part of those teachings, and agency and freedom of the individual to act are key parts of the teachings. For me they seem to mesh well with a more libertarian view.” (3)

On Monday 16 March 2015, Johnson will speak at a meeting of Strata, “a Libertarian Think Tank” based in Logan Utah. (4)

Overstock.com’s longtime CEO, Patrick Byrne, is likewise a “self-described libertarian.” (5)

1. http://www.sltrib.com/home/2248759-155/rolly-republican-strategist-has-herbert-in

2. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/11/15/1162077/-Libertarians-provided-the-margin-for-Democrats-in-at-least-nine-elections

3. http://dailycaller.com/2012/02/23/overstock-com-president-ron-paul-would-be-a-better-president-than-romney

4. http://www.cachevalleydaily.com/politics/article_a13fc958-c99d-11e4-97ec-97567f5e2e92.html

5. http://www.alan.com/2010/11/18/patrick-byrne-and-overstock-com-libertarianism-in-action

(NOTE: Joseph Buchman’s 2008 campaign for the US Congress (Utah’s First District) received a generous donation from Patrick Byrne.)

18 thoughts on “Jonathan Johnson, Former Overstock.com President: “Most Utah Republicans Lean Libertarian”

  1. paulie

    Bars are legal in Utah. You pay $5 to become a member for the day, basically what’s known as a cover charge in most places, but it’s to get around the law.

  2. Andy Craig

    Same thing happened in the other direction with Rand’s “I’m not a libertarian.” quote. As useful as that line is for the LP, in context it’s obvious he meant capital-L and the reporter just didn’t understand the distinction: “I’m not a Libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican.” would be the correct way to capitalize the quote as he obviously intended. But the style guides are averse to the mixed-capitalization, even when it’s necessary.

  3. Gene Berkman

    On a related issue, Patrick Byrne, CEO of Overstock.com, funded an initiative to create a school voucher system in Utah several years ago. In conservative Utah, it was defeated with a similar margin to the loss suffered by voucher initiatives in California.

  4. johno

    However, I would doubt abortion, porn, pre-marital sex and gambling are winning issues in Utah. So, the CP and I.A.P probably will have more growth IF the R’s abandon the holy rollers.

  5. paulie

    Same thing happened in the other direction with Rand’s “I’m not a libertarian.” quote.

    When he said that the (L/l)ibertarian label is an albatross people have hung around his neck, or tried to, was he only referring to the LP?

  6. paulie

    However, I would doubt abortion, porn, pre-marital sex and gambling are winning issues in Utah. So, the CP and I.A.P probably will have more growth IF the R’s abandon the holy rollers.

    It’s a matter of organization, not just ideology.

  7. Joseph Buchman Post author

    I’m thinking I may drive up to Logan for the meeting Monday night. If I do, I’ll try to provide a transcript of the relevant (to independent voters/parties) portions here.

  8. Andy Craig

    “”When he said that the (L/l)ibertarian label is an albatross people have hung around his neck, or tried to, was he only referring to the LP?””

    Different quote. I was talking about when he said (as reported): “I’m not a libertarian. I’m a libertarian Republican.” That only makes sense if he meant “I’m not a Libertarian [Party member]. I’m a libertarian Republican.”

    With the “albatross” comment it’s possible he meant either, it’s not entirely clear from the context if he meant the partisan label or the ideological label. When he follows it up with talk about “running around naked and smoking pot” though, I read that as more a dig at the LP than libertarians in general, because it sounds more like the type of anti-LP talking points that I’ve heard before from other “liberty Republican”/conservatarian/etc. types.

    I do think that a lot of the time he’s simply disavowing being a capital-L Libertarian and his quotes aren’t being properly capitalized. Not that I give him credit for being a lowercase libertarian either, but he does use that word to describe himself (usually but not always with some modifier, like Republican, constitutionalist, conservative, etc.), so when he says just “L/libertarian” by itself and in a negative context, I think the more likely intention is that he’s denying to his fellow Republicans that he has any connection to or inclinations towards the LP (a rumor often tossed at libertarian-oid-ish-leaning Republicans in the GOP primaries, including Rand, even when it’s not true, as it obviously isn’t for Rand.)

    Of course, when it’s ambiguous and from a spoken quote, there’s often no way to know for sure unless somebody asks a followup question to clarify. Which would require that the reporters present to even be aware of and care about the distinction, and most of them aren’t and don’t.

    And Rand himself probably deliberately plays with the ambiguity, because it lets him criticize or differentiate himself from “libertarians” on the one hand, but when that causes grumbling among members of his base who call themselves libertarians, he (or his defenders) can just claim that he was talking about the LP.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/sen-rand-paul-aggressively-courting-evangelicals-to-win-over-gop-establishment/2013/05/12/d917ccb4-b8af-11e2-b94c-b684dda07add_story_1.html

  9. Cody Quirk

    Doubt it johno, unless the IAP can get it’s act together there- the LP is still the largest in terms of voter registration numbers, and while the IAP has leapfrogged over the CP’s numbers, they still have some catching up to do with the LP.

    Plus many candidates for the LP have performed better then candidates from both the IAP & CP in many races.

  10. Joseph Buchman Post author

    Welcome to IPR MK. You’re quite a prolific author (See: http://www.amazon.com/M.-K.-Gilmour/e/B00A76HSPW) for example.

    If you’d like to rework your article above for posting here as an IPR article, speaking on behalf of the other editors here, I think we’d be interested. You might need to find a photo that is in the public domain (not sure the one is at your site or not), but as a non-Mormon LIbertarian living here in Utah for the past 20+ years, I’ve often wondered how the belief in FREE AGENCY could lead any member of the LDS Church to vote for any candidates other than the Libertarian ones!

    Again, welcome to IPR and hope to see you here often,

    Best,

    Joe

  11. paulie

    If you’d like to rework your article above for posting here as an IPR article, speaking on behalf of the other editors here, I think we’d be interested.

    It would need an alt party/ independent candidate angle for IPR. Libertarianism as a philosophy is a different matter…although personally I find it interesting too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *