Reason Covers The “Gary E. Johnson” Ballot Substitution in Michigan

We have reported previously here at IPR that the Libertarian Party of Michigan and the Gary Johnson for President campaign have considered using a substitution strategy in order to circumvent a sore election law that is being erroneously enforced by the Secretary of State in Michigan. Now Reason is giving the strategy some ink.

Enter Johnson’s knight in shining armor: Gary Edward Johnson, an investor and longtime Libertarian Party activist in Texas who has run for everything from community college board to U.S. Senate but never for president. That might change if the Michigan LP’s court battle fails.

For now Texas Johnson is what’s known as a placeholder, somebody who holds a spot on a ballot for a third party candidate until he or she actually qualifies. Texas Johnson’s place on the ballot now guarantees that a a Gary E. Johnson/Jim Gray ticket on the Libertarian line will still appear on the ballot if the lawsuit fails.

This proposal is completely legal, according to ballot access expert Richard Winger.

58 thoughts on “Reason Covers The “Gary E. Johnson” Ballot Substitution in Michigan

  1. Q2Q

    Again, why the hell did the LP nominate this dingleberry? The guy won’t get on the ballot in Michigan, he hasn’t spent any money on advertising (which, for a supposedly wealthy guy, he should be able to afford some), and he comes across as a real life version of Sceerch. Seriously, Lee Wrights would have been better this is idiot.

  2. Robert Capozzi

    2Q, The Matrix has always been programmed to irritate you and you alone. Hence, GJ was nominated, LW not.

    The sun continues to rise in the east, as well, even though you KNOW that North would make far more sense.

  3. Richard Winger

    Actually, the Michigan Secretary of State web page doesn’t list any Libertarian Party presidential nominee, even though it lists Libertarian Party nominees for other office. The Secretary of State has never even acknowledged that party’s request to list Gary of Texas if the state won’t list Gary of New Mexico. I think the lawsuit to force the Sec of State to print Gary of New Mexico on the ballot is very strong. I posted this morning that the LP of Michigan had asked for expedited action in that lawsuit.

  4. Q2Q

    I still have a right to bitch about a candidate I do not like that has been a nominated by a party of which I am a dues paying member. Besides, I find it annoying that the LP made a big deal about a candidate who can’t be on the ballot in some states.

  5. Q2Q

    How am I wrong: Will Johnson be on the ballot in Michigan? Probably not. Will he be on the ballot in 50 states? Definitely not, the LP hasn’t done that since Harry Browne was the nominee. Did the LP make a big deal about him as a candidate? Yes, they practically anointed him and proclaimed him to be the LP messiah. So, how exactly am I wrong?

  6. Trent Hill Post author

    “Again, why the hell did the LP nominate this dingleberry? The guy won’t get on the ballot in Michigan, he hasn’t spent any money on advertising (which, for a supposedly wealthy guy, he should be able to afford some), and he comes across as a real life version of Sceerch. Seriously, Lee Wrights would have been better this is idiot.”

    He’ll likely be on the ballot in MI, as the SoS has no standing. I can’t think of another state where he’s likely to miss the ballot–except by some massive screw up. Also: He ust finished raising $250,000 for ads.

  7. Richard Winger

    I agree with Trent. In 1980, John Anderson ran in the Michigan Republican presidential primary and the Secretary of State still let him be a minor party nominee in November 1980. The law hasn’t changed since then. Anderson’s party in Michigan in 1980 was the “Anderson Coalition Party.”

  8. Q2Q

    So what if he just finished raising a quarter million, he is wealthy; he could’ve paid for some ads out of pocket in some of the inexpensive media markets.

    The MI SoS does have a case: he was on the GOP MI primary ballot, MI has a sore-loser law, and Johnson had more then enough time to collect signatures to obtain access as an independent. Johnson should’ve done his research and should’ve withdrew from the GOP contest earlier. If he had, there wouldn’t be a problem.

  9. Q2Q

    As far comparing Johnson’s problem to John Anderson’s problem, it won’t hold up. When Anderson ran, MI did not provide an option for a candidate to obtain ballot access as an independent; which was the argument Anderson used. That is no longer the case, as MI does have a procedure to obtain access as an independent. So, Johnson really doesn’t have much of an argument.

  10. Nick Kruse

    “Will he be on the ballot in 50 states? Definitely not, the LP hasn’t done that since Harry Browne was the nominee.”

    Your probably right about that fact. But instead of singling out Johnson, why don’t you trash talk all of the nominees we have had since Harry Browne?

  11. Richard Winger

    #11, you are mistaken. You are swallowing the allegations of the Secretary of State without checking into whether they are true or not. Michigan did have a procedure for independent candidates to get on the ballot in 1980. It was pioneered by the US District Court Judge who wrote McCarthy v Austin in 1976. That procedure was to submit the same number of signatures on an independent petition that were required for new parties.

    Gus Hall got on the ballot in Michigan in 1980 as an independent candidate for president.

  12. RevFatsax

    Q2Q…I mean, you got the first mainstream Caucasian American Libertarian who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy. I mean that’s a storybook, man. OK, so I stole that from Biden…but he’s never been a stickler for copyright laws.
    If you disagree with GJ, that’s fine…but from what I can tell, you just are crying because your candidate didn’t win. Well…I feel for ya, but get over it. Lambasting a candidate for being wealthy isn’t what this party is about. You dissented, and proud we all are of you and your rights. Now, if you don’t mind…we have better things to do than defend our candidate to a bitter poster who wishes his candidate had done better. we have enough trouble defending ourselves from the romney crowd who think we are voting for obama by not voting for romney. The world is getting fuller and fuller of people who make less and less sense. Oh where art thou, Malthus.

  13. Gene Berkman

    In 1981 I served as Chair of the Travis County Libertarian Party, in Austin, Texas. In 1982 I decided to move back to California, and Gary Johnson was elected County Chair to succeed me.

    He had been active in the local LP group for several years before that, so he is clearly a committed Libertarian and we are lucky to have him involved in case the Michigan situation actually does require a substitution.

  14. Trent Hill Post author

    Was I the first person to suggest the substitution when I suggested it here at IPR, Richard? Or was that something that was discussed previously?

  15. Jed Siple

    I believe I suggested it either here or on BAN. The point is: no matter what there will be a Gary Johnson on the ballot in Michigan.

  16. paulie

    Q2Q

    Sore loser laws do not apply to presidential candidates, slates of electors are what you vote for in the general election.

  17. Root's Teeth Are Awesome

    he hasn’t spent any money on advertising (which, for a supposedly wealthy guy,

    What about that million dollars pledge?

    Didn’t some anonymous person at Root’s fundraiser pledge a million dollars to some GJ PAC?

    Did that money every come through?

  18. Greg

    The Reason blog also has an interesting entry up right now about the Libertarian Party contesting the GOP’s status as a “major party” in Oregon. They also did a piece on John Jay Myers, Texas LP senate candidate earlier today.

  19. Andy

    “Again, why the hell did the LP nominate this dingleberry? The guy won’t get on the ballot in Michigan, he hasn’t spent any money on advertising (which, for a supposedly wealthy guy, he should be able to afford some), and he comes across as a real life version of Sceerch. Seriously, Lee Wrights would have been better this is idiot.”

    Hey, I’m not exactly the world’s biggest Gary Johnson fan, but even I wouldn’t sink this low.

    I vehemently disagree with Gary Johnson on the Fair Tax, but even so, thus far his campaign hasn’t been that bad. It’s certainly a hell of a lot better than the Bob Barr campaign in 2008.

  20. Q2Q

    My complaints are solely based on the hype surrounding Johnson before he became the nominee, and how he just disappoints afterwards. Seriously, this guy was so unprepared and still hasn’t gotten his act together.

  21. JT

    Q2Q: “My complaints are solely based on the hype surrounding Johnson before he became the nominee, and how he just disappoints afterwards.”

    So you call him names because he hasn’t funded his campaign out of his own pocket, he might not get on all 50 state ballots & most delegates to the convention wanted him to be the party’s candidate for President? (I don’t know anyone who has held him up as the “Libertarian Messiah”). If those are all your complaints, then your visceral reaction is very strange. Surely there must be some deeper problem if you’re going to denigrate him the way you have. Either that or you’re mentally off-balance. Which is it?

  22. Q2Q

    So, you want me to trash talk the everyone since Harry Browne. Let me see:

    Michael Badnarik- a constitutional Nerd that somehow won the nomination, with no money and no plan. Gee, how can that go wrong? Considering that there was a radio host and a producer/filmmaker running who could ran better campaigns, what drug was the LP on when they nominated joe-schmo Badnarik.

    Bob Barr- Neo-Con ex Congressman known for his anti-pot views, voted for the patriot act, supported Bush, and then flipped on this issues in order to win the LP nomination, when ot’s clear he ran to piss off the GOP. Clearly a winner.

    Still, neither of them hyped their candidacies as much as Johnson has.

  23. Gary Johnson's Million Dollar Pledge

    I repeat what I said @21:

    What about that million dollars pledge?

    Didn’t some anonymous person at Root’s fundraiser pledge a million dollars to some GJ PAC?

    Did that money every come through?

    This is not a rhetorical question. This million dollar pledge was much trumpeted at the time. I’d really appreciate it if anyone with knowledge can inform us if that pledge was for real.

    If this pledge was real, some details should have turned up in an FEC filing by now, no?

    Does anyone know of this promised million dollars ever came through?

  24. Robert Capozzi

    10 Q: So what if he just finished raising a quarter million, he is wealthy; he could’ve paid for some ads out of pocket in some of the inexpensive media markets.

    me: First, while my understanding is that GJ has some wealth, my sense is that he’s not super rich by any means. Second, when a candidate suspends his life for well over a year, that is a HUGE in-kind contribution. His son has done the same. Expecting GJ to throw more into the race seems inappropriate to me.

  25. Q2Q

    To JT: I meant the LP leadership practically (which is the key word) proclaimed him the LP messiah.

    I’m actually pissed because this is the 3rd election that the LP has nominated a half-assed candidate with no game plan, no charisma, and no cash. What really pisses me off is that the LP leadership has hyped this dude and he’s not living up to it. I’d rather have an unknown who would work hard to build the party than a half-assed politician whose not.

  26. ATBAFT

    #31, the party members have to “build the party” not the presidential candidate. Johnson can inspire, he can visit, he can share contact nameshe can stand in Waco parking lots, but he then moves on. The existing infrastructure has to build the local party. The candidate has to inspire – which, as far as I can see Johnson is – but the perspiration needs to be yours.

  27. JT

    Q2Q: “To JT: I meant the LP leadership practically (which is the key word) proclaimed him the LP messiah.”

    I don’t recall that either. How exactly did the LP leadership “practically” proclaim him to be any such thing? I know some people in official positions in the LP who really liked him for the nomination & some who didn’t. I know some who thought he could get more votes than any previous Libertarian candidate for President did. But I don’t know any who thought he would win the election & deliver us a libertarian society, “practically” or otherwise.

    Q2Q: “I’m actually pissed because this is the 3rd election that the LP has nominated a half-assed candidate with no game plan, no charisma, and no cash.”

    Well you have to choose from the choices that you have. It’s difficult to get serious, libertarian candidates who are willing to actively campaign for months for a 3rd party that’s tiny compared to the 2 major ones. I haven’t found any of the candidates for the Libertarian nomination in the last three election cycles to be highly charismatic & none of them had raised much money to speak of when they got the nomination. You might think Russo & Nolan are exceptions but they aren’t. IMO, Harry Browne was the last one who really fit that bill.

  28. Q2Q

    JT: I used the term practically, which can be synonymous with the term “everything but.” So, what i meant was that the LP leadership did everything but proclaim him to be some weird libertarian superhero. I never said anyone thought he could win. But, the LP leadership did promote Johnson more then say, Carl Person or Lee Wrights. Seriously, they kinda hinted they wanted him for the nomination.

    As for the previous elections:

    In 2004, I think Russo could’ve won 400000 votes, maybe some minor media attention (more than Badnarik at least), but his charisma could’ve helped build the party by recruiting new members.

    In 2008, I think George Phillies would’ve been a better choice. Strong Libertarian, promised to spend some of his own money, an he is very good at explaining libertarian ideals. He could’ve recruited some new members, and I do believe his candidacy was under-rated and should’ve been the nominee.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp

    Q2Q @ 27,

    “Considering that there was a radio host and a producer/filmmaker running who could ran better campaigns”

    Well, that’s just it — Gary Nolan and Aaron Russo didn’t run better campaigns (and I say that having worked as communications director of Russo’s campaign).

    If they had run better campaigns than Badnarik, one of them, rather than Badnarik, would have been nominated. The definition of “better campaign” is one that beats the others.

  30. Steven Wilson

    I think the timing of the campaigns has always been a problem. I think being better is just relative. If you lost every race you entered, every campaign theoretically should’ve been better if winning is the only measurement.

    1. Our conventions offer little time from nomination to election to build momentum into a national drive.

    2. Party jumpers force LP members into a “learn about the candidate just like everybody else” mode of function which causes a delay.

    3. With no money to secure brand equity or even borrow brand equity from another, our candidates are just noise in the national media.

    4. The money value associated with ballot access and petitioners would be better spent on radio spots and magazine page ads. Our people on the ground use “labor” for things the other parties take for granted.

    I would speculate that today it would cost a third party candidate at least250 million in advertising to get 15% of the general vote. And you still must take into consideration the character of the candidate, not just the buy-ins.

    I believe that market decay to advertising is equal to electability in politics. Whether you agree with it or not, you must pay for that.

    My clients don’t want to hear a customer say “I didn’t know you were in business”.

    Johnson must sell it better than those he is running against in order for this to be a better campaign.

  31. JT

    Q2Q: ” So, what i meant was that the LP leadership did everything but proclaim him to be some weird libertarian superhero.”

    I still don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t know of any LP officials who hyped up Johnson to the extent that you’re suggesting. But I guess you aren’t going to give any specific examples.

    Q2Q: “In 2004, I think Russo could’ve won 400000 votes, maybe some minor media attention (more than Badnarik at least), but his charisma could’ve helped build the party by recruiting new members.”

    It’s possible. I don’t remember Russo as being highly charismatic or flush with campaign funds. He seemed kind of sleazy to me.

    Q2Q: “In 2008, I think George Phillies would’ve been a better choice.”

    No comment.

  32. ATBAFT

    If by some miracle every LP member chipped in an average of $1,000, that would give the Johnson campaign $13mm. Can you do effective national advertising for that? I doubt it. So maybe we need to reconsider whether a national campaign is worth the time and effort? Maybe we get “the word” out better by having local candidates being interviewed in local news outlets four or five times a campaign cycle than by hoping one appearance by Johnson three hundred miles away is going to “educate” your local voters on Libertarian views?

  33. RevFatsax

    Q2Q, you have so many opinions and thoughts, and that is wonderful…but none of them seem substantive, positive, or of any real value. I don’t mean that in an insulting way, I am just pointing out that “What, George Phillies was a good candidate” doesn’t say anything except YOU thought a thought…and again…way to go…but what is your agenda…to live in the past? If Wrights was your guy…and he lost…is it better to stew in your misery or work for the party on behalf of the Wrights faction who was well represented at the convention and is integral to the success of the party… I’m just saying, lead, follow, or get the hell out of the way.

  34. @41

    But sometimes it’s more fun to sit in the middle of the road and bitch about the cars speeding past!

  35. Adrien Monteleone

    @39 I too used to question the sanity of running national campaigns. But the reality is that they DO bring people out of the woodwork. #1 – the ballot access drives conducted for Presidential campaigns allow LP candidates to run, in some cases for four years. Where you lose this access, I’m not sure it’s worth it. #2 – they drive membership #’s. I’ve seen this first hand in Louisiana. In two cycles now, our numbers are on fire, and that’s without us actively registering people. We’ve grown 20% in 8 months. This slows to a crawl next year unless we find something to maintain the momentum. #3 – people get fired up about running for office. So we decided to capitalize on this plus the Ron Paul phenomenon this year and we managed to field five good candidates for Congress. (they all intend to run active campaigns) And we’ve got people still asking to run for local office. We’ll begin targeting those smaller offices next year. It isn’t about winning out the gate, we expect to fail for two-three years before we see our first victory at any level, and 4-6 at the Congressional level. But the more candidates run – at EVERY level, the more the brand is out there and the more people come to our side, and the more people want to run for office, which breeds more candidates and more voters. The job of party building is at the local and state level, but it sure is a heck of a lot easier with a high profile race to get people energized. The only thing that could have done us better this year would have been a Paul/Johnson ticket.

  36. Robert Capozzi

    41 rev, great post! Bridging, I’d say there are basically 2 kinds of people: those who believe the “past is prologue” and those who believe the “past is past.”

    Q2Q sounds like a prologue-type. Whining and grieving about what might have been had s/he gotten her/his way. I find it a childish, ridiculous way to be, since of course the truth is: It is what it is. We can’t know what the outcome would have been if RLW had gotten the nomination, and, in fact, we don’t even know what the outcome of GJ getting the nomination will be! For all we know, GJ will somehow catch fire, Romney will be revealed to be a pedophile, Obama will admit he was born in Kenya, and GJ will be delivering his inaugural come January! :-;

    This victim mentality that Q2Q displays surely appears highly dysfunctional to me. Unfortunately, the two most influential thinkers (still!) in the LM – Rand and Rothbard – both shared their victim mentality with us and we collectively can’t seem to shake it.

    I suggest Q2Q consider (re)reading the first L – Lao Tzu and his Tao. Rothbard recognized the truth in it, but apparently didn’t get the core message. Q2Q has an opportunity to let go of his/her suffering.

  37. Wes Benedict

    Without a Libertarian Presidential candidate, 90% of the voters in Alabama, California, Virginia, Illinois, and probably Florida and several other states would have no Libertarian to vote for–according to this list: http://www.lp.org/candidates-12

    I’ve not noticed evidence that when a Presidential candidate fails to qualify in a state, the affiliate runs more candidates and elects more candidates at lower levels.

  38. JT

    Capozzi: “Unfortunately, the two most influential thinkers (still!) in the LM – Rand and Rothbard – both shared their victim mentality with us and we collectively can’t seem to shake it.”

    I don’t know what you mean by either one’s “victim mentality,” but I think it’s amusing that you constantly point to them as the root causes of what’s wrong with the libertarian movement. It’s a mistake to assume that most other libertarians followed the same path that you did.

  39. Q2Q

    Victim mentality, really? I answered a question from JT about previous elections, and gave my opinion. How the hell was I whining? Am I pissed that the LP nominates candidates that I dislike and are disappointing, yes of course. Do i wish other people won the nom, yes. Am I whining about it, hell no. And FYI, I was a Person supporter, so I’m not “obsessing” over Lee Wrights loss; I really didn’t care who won, as long as it wasn’t Johnson.

    I’m just pissed the we invest time and effort into a presidential candidate who is a sleezy opportunist, who is willing to jump ship from one party to the next because he can’t win the nomination. What about the lawsuit filed by a fundraiser against Johnson? What about his incompatibility with the LP’s non-interventionist foreign policy plank (or does that exclude Kony)? What about his inability to pardon two libertarians who were arrested/convicted for wearing a LP t-shirt at a polling place? And let’s not forget Johnson’s complete and total unpreparedness when he was in the first GOP debate. Seriously, who wouldn’t be pissed off that we nominated this dingleberry!?!

  40. RevFatsax

    @50 “Seriously, who wouldn’t be pissed off that we nominated this dingleberry!?!” Uh…well…not to put too fine a point on it…but “libertarians” comes to mind. Me, specifically, and the majority who voted for him at the convention? Dingleberry is such a grownup word…it makes me kinda proud that you are “with” us. Thanks for your input, please think about contributing monetarily as well as with your constructive criticism. Every dollar, as well as smarmy comment, help. As always, thanks. 🙂

  41. ATBAFT

    #48, I certainly would if there was one. Asked the local county chair how I could help; said he’d be in touch and that was months ago. I’m supposed to speak on GJ’s behalf at a coming Tea Party meeting but that’s now contingent on him getting on the Penna. ballot.

  42. JT

    Q2Q: ” Seriously, who wouldn’t be pissed off that we nominated this dingleberry!?!”

    I’d guess that only a small percentage of Libertarians are pissed off about it. Even among the minority who didn’t favor him, I don’t believe that many are angry about it or call him childish names. We know that most delegates to the convention aren’t pissed off about it.

    Then again, you favored Phillies & Person, so obviously you operate on a very different frequency from the vast majority of Libertarians.

  43. Robert Capozzi

    49 JT, thanks. I don’t necessarily assume that “most” Ls are, in effect, highly influenced by Rand and/or Rothbard, although my guess is their thought system(s) remain at the LP’s core. The SoP certainly retains it.

  44. TheOTHERLibertarianGirl

    The Michigan Secretary of State put Gary Johnson on the GOP primary ballot, though Gary Johnson never asked or applied to be on the GOP primary ballot. she did it of her own I intimation without Johnson’s permission. When the error of the Secreatry of State’s initiate was discovered, Gary Johnson rushed off to have his name removed, but the time stamp was three minutes too late, a time stamp of 4:03pm instead of by the deadline of 4:00. And the sore loser law, which is being touted for reason to keep the original GOVERNOR Gary Johnson off the ballot, which ha been around since the 1950’s was completely ignored in 1980 whe John Anderson ran in the primary, the changed parties when he ran for president, so there is precedence for this law being ignored on a whim by the state. The Michigan Secretay of State is a Republican, and I believe she is using her standing as an officer of the state in an abusive manner to suit her own political desires. She should be stripped of her position for her abuse of the position in which she was elected. Shame on her.

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