Gary Johnson: The Ron Paul of 2012?

IPR note: Although they now run as Republicans, both Paul and Johnson either have been or are members of the Libertarian Party.

By JOHN DISTASO
in the Union Leader:

Another potential 2012 presidential candidate is headed to first-in-the-nation New Hampshire.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who has been described as a “libertarian-leaning” Republican in the mold of U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex., will be featured at an “educational forum” hosted by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire on Jan. 23.

RLCNH chairman Jim Forsythe of Strafford, a conservative activist who is strongly considering a run for the District 4 state Senate seat in 2010, is organizing the event at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. His visit will follow by about five weeks the visit to the state on Dec. 16 by Republican Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who said he is not ruling out a run for President.

Johnson, 56, is not among the commonly mentioned potential Republican presidential aspirants for 2012, but he is building a following among small government activists and those with libertarian views.

He was New Mexico’s governor from 1995 to 2003 and has received attention from many who backed Paul’s 2008 run for President. Several web sites are dedicated to drafting Johnson to run.

A businessman and triathlete, Johnson has not said whether he is considering running, but he recently set up a 501c4 political action committee called the “Our America: The Gary Johnson Initiative” to raise money to promote libertarian views.

It includes a series of videos featuring Johnson talking about variety of current issues, including drugs (he favors legalizing marijuana), a balanced budget and reduced government spending, as well as defense. Johnson opposed the Iraq war and also opposes any open-ended commitment in Afghanistan.

Columnist Bill Kauffman wrote on The American Conservative magazine web site earlier this year that at a conference, Johnson “told me that he may take a shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 as an antiwar, anti-Fed, pro-personal liberties, slash-government-spending candidate; in other words, a Ron Paul libertarian.”

Johnson, who was also described recently on Politico.com as “the next Ron Paul,” has won praise from leaders of the Tea Party movement.

Joe Wierzbicki, a national coordinator for the Tea Party Express group, told Politico.com that as governor, Johnson “championed personal liberty and a smaller, less intrusive government, and we applaud both his record and his efforts to continue his fight at the national level.”

Wierzbicki also said Johnson has “generated a lot of excitement in the Ron Paul constitutionalist and libertarian sect, which is furious about the policies of both Bush and Obama and the Congress of the last three sessions.”

Forsythe, who has chaired RLCNH since the late summer, said his group has a 600-person email list and an associated political action committee.

Forsythe said the speculation surrounding a Johnson run for President “is one of the reasons we invited him. We thought he might be interested in New Hampshire and the fact that he’s coming might be a good sign” about his future plans.

Forsythe, asked what impresses him most about Johnson, said that when Johnson was governor, “he was not bashful about picking up the veto pen and vetoing bad legislation.”

He reportedly vetoed 750 pieces of legislation.

“We’re very excited about him coming,” said Forsythe, “especially if this turns into something big.”

If Johnson does end up running for President, Forsythe said, “I’d love for us to be able to say that this is where it started.”

55 thoughts on “Gary Johnson: The Ron Paul of 2012?

  1. Trent Hill

    “Forsythe, who has chaired RLCNH since the late summer, said his group has a 600-person email list and an associated political action committee.”

    Forsythe is also running for State Senate and has already raised 25k for that effort.

  2. paulie Post author

    Trent,

    I still need to talk to you about fixing the author names not appearing if you don’t get to the articles from the front page.

    Is there a reason you don’t want to call me about it? It’s already there, but commented off; the comment tags just need to be removed.

    I would be able to describe what I found a lot easier on the phone.

  3. Robert Milnes

    “…in other words a Ron Paul libertarian.” Excepty Ron Paul is not a libertarian. He is a dixiecrat conervative/theocratic constitutionalist. He is a Republican. He is a Libertarian by past association with the Libertarian party and bought lifetime membership. Libertarians need to be very careful with these characters. They may or may not actually be libertarians. They operate in an through the Republican party. They are out to reform the Republican party. They have little interest in the Libertarian party. They will accept read:take, libertarian support. But give little in return. Libertarians, do not feed into this. You have your party and genuine Libertarian candidates.

  4. paulie Post author

    Yes. Karen Fincher found him in the membership records while making fundraising calls, and Ron Crickenberger confirmed it.

    Unfortunately they are now both dead, but I have no reason to doubt their word.

  5. paulie Post author

    @ 4,5 come to think of it, I’m pretty sure I’ve heard him say it himself in an interview. Possibly 60 Minutes.

  6. Dave Nalle

    All indications are that Johnson is considerably less theocratic and dixiecratic than Ron Paul. More of a pragmatic libertarian. He also doesn’t have Paul’s association with the John Birch Society or various conspiracy groups and certainly won’t get the support from hate groups which Paul attracted inadvertently.

    He’s also more articulate and more personally appealing without the bitter edge that marred Paul’s campaign.

    All things considered he’s a more appealing and more electable alternative to Paul.

    Dave

  7. Andy

    I seriously doubt that Gary Johnson will be the Ron Paul of 2012. He’s got nowhere near the following that Ron Paul had going into the 2008 election season, and in addition to this, his record isn’t as strong as Ron Paul’s is.

    I think that some people out there in “third party and independent candidate land” get overly excited by perspective candidates that had previously been elected office holders. Sure, it can help a little, but it takes a lot more than having been a former elected office holder to make a real impact in an election, particularly a presidential election. Look at Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney, both are former members of Congress yet both were barely blips on the rader screen in the last election.

    Gary Johnson hasn’t been Governor of New Mexico since 2003. The next Presidential election is in 2012. New Mexico is ranked #36 in population. I’d be willing to bet that the average American has no clue who he is.

    Sure, maybe he could campaign really hard, build a following, and get his name out there, and then perhaps he could make a difference. I’m just saying that I wouldn’t automatically assume that he’d have a big impact just because he was Governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003.

    I’d also question just how strong a libertarian he really is. I mean what radical libertarian changes did he make as Governor of New Mexico? I suppose one could say that he did as much as he could being up against serious opposition, but it sounds to me like he’s probably just a very moderate “libertarian” at best.

  8. Andy

    “paulie // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:12 am

    Yes. Karen Fincher found him in the membership records while making fundraising calls, and Ron Crickenberger confirmed it.”

    I think that his membership was expired when she found him on that list.

  9. paulie Post author

    I think that his membership was expired when she found him on that list.

    Probably so, but outside the scope of the question I was answering.

  10. paulie Post author

    He’s got nowhere near the following that Ron Paul had going into the 2008 election season

    Not sure that’s the case – or especially relevant even if true.

    I think most of the Ron Paul activists in 2008 either never even heard of him before that year, or knew little about him.

    Sure, it can help a little, but it takes a lot more than having been a former elected office holder to make a real impact in an election, particularly a presidential election. Look at Bob Barr and Cynthia McKinney, both are former members of Congress yet both were barely blips on the rader screen in the last election.

    1) Governor > Congressman. Many recent presidents and close finishers have been ex-Governors, few if any whose highest office was US House.

    2) A small party run usually gets less media/vote traction than a big party run.
    For example, compare Ron Paul 1988 with Ron Paul 2008, or Pat Buchanan in the Republican primaries with Pat Buchanan as a Reform Party candidate in 2000.

    I’d be willing to bet that the average American has no clue who he is.

    I’d also be willing to bet that with most recent presidents and close finishers, at election minus three years most people did not know who they are – especially if you take out sitting VPs and children/wives of presidents.

    it sounds to me like he’s probably just a very moderate “libertarian” at best.

    Can’t remember off the top of my head..what areas is he bad/squishy in? I’m not saying you’re wrong necessarily.

  11. Andy

    “Not sure that’s the case – or especially relevant even if true.

    I think most of the Ron Paul activists in 2008 either never even heard of him before that year, or knew little about him.”

    The base of support that propelled Ron Paul’s campaign was made of hardcore supporters who have known who Ron Paul is for years. Ron Paul was not an overnight sensation, he’d been building up a following for over 30 years. If not for that early support base Ron Paul would never have been able to reach all of those new people who became supporters of his in 2007-2008.

    I don’t see any evidence that Gary Johnson has that same hardcore support base that Ron Paul had (has).

    This is one of the reasons that I predicted that the Bob Barr campaign would be a failure (that is not living up to its promise, in part because Barr lacked a hardcore support base).

  12. Andy

    “2) A small party run usually gets less media/vote traction than a big party run.
    For example, compare Ron Paul 1988 with Ron Paul 2008, or Pat Buchanan in the Republican primaries with Pat Buchanan as a Reform Party candidate in 2000.”

    It’s true that a major party nomination runs tends to get more publicity than a 3rd party or independent run. I just doubt that Gary Johnson will garner the same level of support that Ron Paul had.

    I suppose that one advantage that Gary Johnson has is that the Ron Paul campaign lead to the creation of Campaign for Liberty, so it is possible that he could gain the support of Campaign for Liberty supporters and use that to jumpstart a run for the Republican nomination.

    I think that Gary Johnson would have a lot of work to do to gain the kind of rabid support that Ron Paul had beyond just getting by on having been a former Governor of New Mexico.

  13. paulie Post author

    I think it was more a matter of the galvanizing moment – in Paul’s case, standing up to the fascist Giuliani on the war issue in the Republican debate. Now that a strong core of Ron Paul supporters is plugged in to the Republican Party, another libertarian Republican (a real one, not a warmonger) could galvanize that support.

    I would agree that it won’t be automatic.

  14. paulie Post author

    Actually, I’d like to see Paul, Jonson and Ventura all run. Instead of being the lone voice on the stage for scaling back the military-industrial complex, ending the drug war and federal reserve cartel, etc., you could have several candidates making those points. That would be interesting.

    Some would say that would split the support, and that is a valid point, but there would be a shakeout period and also, major donnors could max out to more than just one candidate.

    Something to consider.

  15. Andy

    “Can’t remember off the top of my head..what areas is he bad/squishy in? I’m not saying you’re wrong necessarily.”

    What radical changes did he make as Governor of New Mexico?

    He made some noise about being against the drug war, but did he actually pardon all non-violent drug offenders?

    Did he pardon all non-violent gun control offenders?

    Did he pardon those in prison or being fined for failure to pay taxes?

    Did he kick the Federal government agents out of New Mexico?

    Did he expose state & local government Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs – http://www.CAFR1.com ) in New Mexico?

    If any New Mexico National Gaurd troops were sent overseas while he was in office, did he bring them back home?

    I know that the Finchers met Gary Johnson when he was brought in as a speaker the Libertarian Party of Massachusetts state convention in 2002. They asked him if he’d grant them a pardon for a bogus charge where they got arrested at a polling while standing in line to vote for wearing clothing that had Libertarian Party labels on them. Gary Johnson – who was still the sitting Governor at the time – promised them that he’d grant them pardons, but he never did, and they never heard from him again after that. I suppose that it is possible that he forgot about it, but the fact is that he gave them his word and then did not follow through. This leads me to believe that he didn’t really care. The charges against Gary were dropped, but the charges against Karen were not dropped, but she ended up dying before the issue was settled. On a side note, Ron Paul was one of the people who the Finchers contacted when they were raising money for their legal defense fund over this bogus arrest and Ron Paul donated $200 to their effort. Contrast this with Gary Johnson who did nothing.

    I suppose that one could make the claim that Gary Johnson enacted as many libertarian reforms as he could realistically accomplish as Governor due to a lack of support from the legislature and judicial branch of government, but this is debatable. Perhaps his life was threatened into not doing anything that was “too libertarian, but this is speculation.

    I just don’t see any evidence that Gary Johnson’s “libertarian” views are anything more than moderate at best.

  16. Andy

    “paulie // Dec 29, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    I think it was more a matter of the galvanizing moment – in Paul’s case, standing up to the fascist Giuliani on the war issue in the Republican debate.”

    Ron Paul would never have made it far enough to be in a position where he stood up to Giuliani on the war issue if not for the hardcore base of supporters that he already had before his campaign started.

    “Now that a strong core of Ron Paul supporters is plugged in to the Republican Party, another libertarian Republican (a real one, not a warmonger) could galvanize that support”

    The right person or people might be able to take advantage of the house that Ron Paul built. I just doubt that Gary Johnson could have built that house and I don’t know if he’s the right person to take the best advantage of that house.

  17. Rev. James W. Clifton

    Two comments:

    1. First, Gary Johnson is not a loony nut job like McKinney and Barr.

    2. Ron Paul is and always has been a political opportunist. He wrote a scathing letter of resignation to the GOP and then crawled back to them to win an election.

    Prior to that, he was a founding member of one of the numerous Constitution parties. To win an election, Paul will join any party or group right of center. And if he gets desperate, he might even join a left of center party.

  18. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Many recent presidents and close finishers have been ex-Governors, few if any whose highest office was US House.”

    The last US president to ascend directly from the US House of Representatives to the White House was James Garfield in 1880, and even that’s kind of murky — he had been appointed to fill a Senate vacancy at the time he was chosen as a compromise candidate for president, but was never seated.

    For a brief period, he was a serving Representative, a Senator-elect and President-elect at the same time. Not to mention having been a Civil War general. It’s doubtful he’d have had a shot at the presidency as a US Representative alone, and indeed was only nominated to break a convention deadlock between Blaine and Sherman (John, not William).

  19. paulie Post author

    1. First, Gary Johnson is not a loony nut job like McKinney and Barr.

    Please elaborate.

    2. Ron Paul is and always has been a political opportunist. He wrote a scathing letter of resignation to the GOP and then crawled back to them to win an election.

    Prior to that, he was a founding member of one of the numerous Constitution parties.

    I don’t remember hearing that before. Got more on that?

    To win an election, Paul will join any party or group right of center. And if he gets desperate, he might even join a left of center party.

    So…he ran as a Libertarian in 1988 because he thought he would win? Is that your final answer?

  20. Andy

    “paulie // Dec 29, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Actually, I’d like to see Paul, Jonson and Ventura all run. Instead of being the lone voice on the stage for scaling back the military-industrial complex, ending the drug war and federal reserve cartel, etc., you could have several candidates making those points. That would be interesting.

    Some would say that would split the support, and that is a valid point, but there would be a shakeout period and also, major donnors could max out to more than just one candidate.

    Something to consider.”

    It would be a good idea to have more than one Ron Paul type of candidate in the Republican primaries. Why? Because it would make pro-liberty views appear to be more mainstream if they came from more than one candidate. Also, many Ron Paul supporters hoped for a brokered convention – if Ron Paul could win enough delegates – at the Republican National Convention, but when one considers that all of the other candidates were against Ron Paul the chances of a brokered convention working out in his favor was close to zero. If there were multipe Ron Paul type of candidates who were getting a lot of support it would increase the odds of a brokered convention.

    I think that it is also important that there also be a strong 3rd party or independent candidate that has pro-liberty views as a back up so if it becomes apparent that no pro-liberty candidate is going to capture a major party nomination that the liberty movement has somebody that they can get behind and support up until the November election. This should be apparent after Super Tuesday which is in early February, or shortly thereafter. If no pro-liberty candidate has enough delegate support to caputre a major party nomination the movement ought switch their focus to a 3rd party or independent candidate.

    One of the biggest failures of 2008 was the Libertarian Party’s failure to capture the bulk of the support that Ron Paul had.

  21. Andy

    “Prior to that, he was a founding member of one of the numerous Constitution parties.”

    I’ve been following Ron Paul since 1996 and I’ve never heard of him having been a founding member of any Constitution Party. I think that you are confusing him with Aaron Russo who actually was a founding member of the Constitution Party but then left that party when it was taken over by conservatives.

  22. Andy

    I think that it was Aaron Russo who came up with the name Constitution Party, but then he let Howard Philips have that name when the US Tax Payers Party turned into the Constitution Party.

  23. Gene Berkman

    Ron Paul did write a letter of resignation from The Republican Party in 1985 or 1986, stating his disapointment with President Reagan’s inability to stop the growth of government.

    Paul joined The Libertarian Party as a Life Member at the 1987 convention of The Libertarian Party of California. He paid for his membership with gold coins, thus violating Gresham’s law.

    I don’t think he joined The U.S. Taxpayers Party – predecessor of The Constitution Party – but he wrote a note endorsing Howard Philips for President in 1992. He had earlier endorsed Pat Buchanan in the Republican primaries, and he voted for Andre Marrou in November.

    Ron Paul is an opportunist – he will work with many groups that opposes statism or war, and his opposition to statism is the reason, not a desire for elective office.

  24. Gene Berkman

    A note on Aaron Russo and his Constitution Party. Aaron Russo tried to start a Constitution Party in the late 1980s, but this was in no way associated with Howard Phillips’ Constitution Party, which was originally called the U.S. Taxpayers Party.

    Aaron Russo never got his party off the ground, although he did recruit a Republican state Senator in California. Russo himself gave up on the attempt, and ran in the Republican primary for Governor of Nevada several years later, before trying for The Libertarian Party nomination for President.

    Russo did promote his “Freedom to Fascism” film through the Constitution Party of Howard Phillips, but I am not aware of him having any contact with the CP before that.

  25. Andy

    “Gene Berkman // Dec 29, 2009 at 7:40 pm

    A note on Aaron Russo and his Constitution Party. Aaron Russo tried to start a Constitution Party in the late 1980s, but this was in no way associated with Howard Phillips’ Constitution Party, which was originally called the U.S. Taxpayers Party.

    Aaron Russo never got his party off the ground, although he did recruit a Republican state Senator in California. Russo himself gave up on the attempt, and ran in the Republican primary for Governor of Nevada several years later, before trying for The Libertarian Party nomination for President.”

    I thought that Aaron Russo did start a Constitution Party back in the early ’90s, but that he abondoned that effort not too long after that and the Constitution Party got taken over by the US Tax Payers Party which changed their name to the Constitution Party (although they are still called US Tax Payers Party in Michigan and go under different names in California, Nevada, Nebraska, and I think Connectict and perhaps one or two other states).

    “Russo did promote his “Freedom to Fascism” film through the Constitution Party of Howard Phillips, but I am not aware of him having any contact with the CP before that.”

    Russo also promoted “America: From Freedom to Fascism” at some Libertarian Party events as well as any other venue that would have him.

  26. Trent Hill

    “it sounds to me like he’s probably just a very moderate “libertarian” at best.”

    I dunno. His “Our America” Initiative rails against the Federal Reserve, the Wars, and the War on Drugs. That’s pretty radical.

  27. Andy

    “I dunno. His ‘Our America’ Initiative rails against the Federal Reserve, the Wars, and the War on Drugs. That’s pretty radical.”

    I suppose we’ll have to wait and see what he actually does if he actually runs.

  28. Trent Hill

    “Prior to that, he was a founding member of one of the numerous Constitution parties.”

    No, he wasn’t. This is false.

  29. Trent Hill

    “I think that you are confusing him with Aaron Russo who actually was a founding member of the Constitution Party but then left that party when it was taken over by conservatives.”

    Odd. The Constitution Party (founded as the US Taxpayers Party) was always “conservative”. It was founded by religious right leaders, especially anti-communist New Rightist Howard Phillips.

  30. Trent Hill

    “Aaron Russo never got his party off the ground, although he did recruit a Republican state Senator in California. ”

    What was his name? The only Republican State Senator I know of from California that has been involved in right-wing circles is Don Rogers, who has been with the American Party for many years.

  31. Gene Berkman

    Trent,

    Yes, Don Rogers is the California State Senator that (briefly) lined up with Aaron Russo. I think Sen. Rogers was confused about what Russo intended; The Constitution Party sounded like a right-wing group, but Russo intended something definitely libertarian.

  32. Trent Hill

    “I thought that Aaron Russo did start a Constitution Party back in the early ’90s, but that he abondoned that effort not too long after that and the Constitution Party got taken over by the US Tax Payers Party which changed their name to the Constitution Party (although they are still called US Tax Payers Party in Michigan and go under different names in California, Nevada, Nebraska, and I think Connectict and perhaps one or two other states).”

    Wow. You are VERY confused. The US Taxpayer’s Party was started by Howard Phillips in 1992 basically as a vehicle for Pat Buchanan to run third party. This was the beginning of a new far-right political party, formed by a number of smaller parties–including the Constitutional Party of Pennsylvania (which had been around since the 50s), the American Independent Party of California (which has been around since George Wallace’s 1968 Presidential run), etc.

    Aaron Russo had nothing to do with the effort. Although he wanted to start a Constitution Party–it never got off the ground.

    The states in which the CP goes by different names is:
    California: The American Independent Party
    Nevada: The Independent American Party
    Nebraska: The Nebraska Party
    Connecticut: The Concerned Citizens Party
    Michigan: The US Taxpayer’s Party
    Colorado: American Constitution Party

    In the last Presidential election, Chuck Baldwin was on all of those ballots. He was also on in other states by different names.
    In:
    Alaska: Alaskan Independence Party
    Kansas: The Reform Party
    And in many states as an Independent.

    All told, Chuck Baldwin appeared on the ballot under 10 separate labels.

  33. Andy

    “Odd. The Constitution Party (founded as the US Taxpayers Party) was always ‘conservative’. It was founded by religious right leaders, especially anti-communist New Rightist Howard Phillips.”

    The Constitution Party as envisioned by Aaron Russo was to have been more libertarian. I recall him saying something like that in an interview.

    Russo abandoned the effort and let Howard Philips have the name Constitution Party.

  34. Andy

    “In the last Presidential election, Chuck Baldwin was on all of those ballots. He was also on in other states by different names.”

    Chuck Baldwin was not on the ballot in California. As you will probably recall, the Alan Keyes faction of the American Independent Party hijacked his ballot access.

    Chuck Baldwin was on the ballot in Virginia as the Independent Green Party’s candidate (not to be confused with the Green Party whose candidate was Cynthia McKinney). The Independent Green Party gathered signatures on a petition with I believe the strange combination of Michael Bloomberg for President and Ron Paul for Vice President as stand in candidates and then they sold their ballot access to the Constitution Party.

    Chuck Baldwin was on the ballot in Alaska as the nominee of the Alaskan Independence Party.

  35. Don Lake .......... More Libs Lacking a Lib Perspective

    Wow. [TRENT HILL] is [some what] confused.

    Aaron Russo had nothing to do with the effort. Although he wanted to start a Constitution Party–it never got off the ground.

    The states in which the CP goes by different names is:

    California: The American Independent Party

    Nevada: The Independent American Party
    Nebraska: The Nebraska Party
    Connecticut: The Concerned Citizens Party
    Michigan: The US Taxpayer’s Party
    Colorado: American Constitution Party

    In the last Presidential election, Chuck Baldwin was [Lake: NOT] on all of those ballots.

    Prior to the P2008 ballot the Democratic Party Secretary of State Debra Bowen [the current occupant of that particular revolving door] was ‘kind’ enuf to take dysfunctional and disgraced FORMER California Reform Party Chair [Israel First Jewish Lobbyist] John Blare and a similar situation, (but not exact replica) in the Constitution Party/ California American Independent Party! FORMER AIP type Ed Noonan and crew were declared the certified party leader.

    As I predicted, not gaining many friends and amassing a lot of enemies [Special Agent Cody Quirk and anti science Doctor Donald Grundmann], Baldwin was bounced off [as Grundmann and his favorite gubernatorial candidate from ‘Save Our State’ will be in 2010] of the official California ballot.

    Under Blare, the west coast reform movement has spiraled down to a bunch of political hoboes near the train yard ——- with out even a prayer of ballot access. Even after the very recent New York State court order, re-enforcing an earlier Texas decree, Rodney Martin is still not on the Secretary of State site.

    Minister Baldwin on ten state ballots ????? Count again, and do not include California P2008! [Sorry to say ……….]

  36. Andy

    “Wow. You are VERY confused. The US Taxpayer’s Party was started by Howard Phillips in 1992 basically as a vehicle for Pat Buchanan to run third party.”

    Nope, I knew that. Pat Buchanan ended up deciding not to run 3rd party so Howard Philips ran instead.

    I actually remember seeing something on TV about Howard Philips and the US Tax Payers Party back” in 1992, but it was a short segement and I only saw part of it so I didn’t know anything about the party other than their name.

    “This was the beginning of a new far-right political party, formed by a number of smaller parties–including the Constitutional Party of Pennsylvania (which had been around since the 50s), the American Independent Party of California (which has been around since George Wallace’s 1968 Presidential run), etc.”

    I already know that the American Independent Party in California had been around since the days of George Wallace and became affiliated with the US Tax Payers Party/Constitution Party.

    I didn’t know that there had been a Constitutional Party of Pennsylvania that became affiliated with the US Tax Payers/Constitution Party.

  37. Andy

    “paulie // Dec 29, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    USTP didn’t become CP til ‘99. I think Russo’s CP was long gone before that.”

    Russo was gone before then but I heard that he let Howard Philips have the name Constitution Party.

  38. Andy

    “Connecticut: The Concerned Citizens Party”

    I’m pretty sure that Chuck Baldwin failed to get enough signatures to make it on the ballot in Connecticut.

  39. Trent Hill

    “Chuck Baldwin was on the ballot in Alaska as the nominee of the Alaskan Independence Party.”

    I listed that one.

    But you’re quite right about California–I somehow managed to forget about the Alan Keyes episode.

  40. Andy

    I just found the following information about Aaron Russo on the Advocates for Self Government’s website:

    http://www.theadvocates.org/celebrities/aaron-russo.html

    ” 1994, the political side of Russo came to the forefront. Inspired by the success of independent presidential candidate Ross Perot, he announced the formation of the Constitution Party, with a limited-government platform similar to that of the Libertarian Party. The party never ran any candidates, and Russo shut it down after 18 months. (In 1999, the U.S. Taxpayers Party renamed itself the Constitution Party, but that organization was unrelated to Russo’s effort.)

    “In 1994, Russo created a one-hour, politically themed TV show entitled Aaron Russo’s Mad as Hell. The program, part stand-up comedy monologue and part slash-and-burn political rant, offered Russo’s libertarian views on the IRS, Social Security, NAFTA, and the federal budget. When he was unable to find a syndicator for the show, Russo sold it as a video.

    Russo made his first run for political office in 1998, seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Nevada. He came in second in the primary, winning 25.9% of the vote in a four-way race.

    Russo joined the Libertarian Party in 1999, saying it was his ‘true political home.’ In 2000, he delivered a fiery speech at the Libertarian National Convention, calling Libertarians the ‘last, best hope for freedom in America.'”

    I’m pretty sure that the fiery speech that is referred to above actually occurred at the 2002 Libertarian Party National Convention, not the 2000 Convention.

  41. Thomas L. Knapp

    “Aaron Russo had nothing to do with the effort. Although he wanted to start a Constitution Party–it never got off the ground.”

    I guess that depends on what you mean by “off the ground.”

    I joined the Constitution Party founded by Aaron Russo in December of 1994 or January 1995 — I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember that there was a two-page ad including the CP’s platform in the front of the January, 1995 issue of Liberty magazine. I was considering the LP at the time, but still lukewarm on it (the LP info pack I had requested and received in 1992 hadn’t impressed me). I may still have my membership card around somewhere. I think I was member # 300-something.

    Some time in early 1995, I was contacted by the Constitution Party’s national director, Karen Scarborough, and asked to serve as the party’s Missouri coordinator. I agreed and started publishing and mailing a monthly print newsletter for the 40-odd members in Missouri by that time, and setting up a local group in Springfield, Missouri.

    Russo was incredibly helpful in helping get my local effort going , and I assume I’m not the only person he assisted in his way. He appeared on a local talk radio show two days before our organizational meeting to promote us. He and Karen were always available to offer advice and to help plan the next step of organization.

    Later in 1995, Russo decided to hand the reins of the party over to an executive committee and get to work making “Mad As Hell.” It took about 60 days for the new chair the executive committee selected — a nutbar shortwave radio host and UFO conspiracy theorist by the name of Bill Cooper — to drive the organization into the ground.

    At some point in late 1995, Aaron washed his hands of the organization. That happened around the same time that Karen, I and a bunch of other members did the same.

    As it happened, L. Neil Smith had answered my request to reprint one of his essays in my Constitution Party newsletter with a suggestion that I switch parties to the LP, and the Missouri LP’s executive director (Bill Johnson — he’s a Republican candidate for governor of Alabama now) spent considerable time and effort trying to recruit me. I joined the LP in 1996. If you want to blame anyone for that, I guess the order of culpability would be Russo, Smith, Johnson.

  42. paulie Post author

    Bill Johnson — he’s a Republican candidate for governor of Alabama now

    Not a libertarian leaning one, either.

  43. Rev. James W. Clifton

    After the 1988 election, I received a flyer about yet another Constitution Party start-up and Dr. Ron Paul’s name was on it as a “Founding Member.” I collect political materials and will see if I still have it.

  44. Gary Fincher

    “Yes. Karen Fincher found him in the membership records while making fundraising calls, and Ron Crickenberger confirmed it.

    Unfortunately they are now both dead, but I have no reason to doubt their word.”

    I’m not dead, so I’m more qualified than anyone to address this topic. So here’s the story:

    While I was the campaign manager of the Libertarian Maurice McDonald for Commissioner of Public Lands campaign based in Santa Fe, NM, back in 1998, my wife Karen Fincher was chief fundraiser…albeit, I was intimately involved in parts of the fundraising. That is, I saw all of the membership lists, and at one or two points in the whole process, keyed in their names into either databases or address fields. While there was some overlap with state party members and national party members, some people were members of national only, and not with the state party. Later in the campaign, we received from LPHQ Operations Director Nick Dunbar the list of LPers on the national database.

    I believe I – and not Karen – was the one to spot Gary Johnson’s name on that list. I’m not 100% sure of this, but fairly nearly sure that it wasn’t her who noticed it, but me, and I called her attention to it. The name was Gary Johnson, Big J Enterprises, and it showed his membership for exactly one year, from 1993 to 1994. We in turn showed it to the candidate, Maurice McDonald, who confirmed that it had to be the correct Gary Johnson, due to the designation of his company on the records, Big J Enterprises.

    For about a day, my wife and I were the only ones besides Johnson himself who knew the governor of NM had once been a member of the Libertarian Party. For a few days, only the three of us knew that bit of trivia.

    However, Karen and I met up with Johnson about 3 and a half years later, in Woburn, Massachusetts, at the LPMA state convention, where Johnson was attending his very first overtly Libertarian Party event, as a speaker.

    I decided to use the opportunity to blow his cover wide-open (not knowing whether or not he wished it to be a secret). But first, I divulged my plan to Michael Cloud, who dismissed Johnson’s ever having been an LP member by saying “you’re thinking of another Gary Johnson”. Of course, I knew better, so I corrected him. Cloud then told me, in what seemed like a patronizing way, “Ok, then, we’ll just let it be his little secret.”

    When it came time for questions, I stood up and said, “Mr. Johnson, according to national Libertarian Party records, you were a member starting in 1993 but your membership lapsed in 1994. So my question to you is, ‘Will you renew your Libertarian Party membership today?'”

    In his answer, he acknowledged being an LP member (but declined to renew).

  45. Gary Fincher

    10: “I think that some people out there in “third party and independent candidate land” get overly excited by perspective candidates that had previously been elected office holders”

    Don’t you mean “prospective candidates”?

  46. Dr. Tom Stevens

    Re: 54

    The Gary Johnson campaign has promised to address this issue and requested that I take down the blog article. I have consented but if this issue comes up at CPAC, you will know who broke the news first.

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