Gary Johnson wins 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nomination

Monday, May 7, 2012

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson received the 2012 presidential nomination of the U.S. Libertarian Party at Saturday's Libertarian National Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada. Judge James P. Gray of California was selected as his running mate.

Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson
Image: Gary Johnson 2012.

Johnson's association with the Libertarian Party stretches back to 1993, when he was a dues-paying-member for about a year. In 2000, the party recruited him to run as their presidential nominee, but he rejected the offer, saying, "I'm a Republican, and I'm not going to run for President."

As a Republican, Johnson was elected and re-elected as governor of New Mexico in 1994 and 1998. During his governorship, he vetoed over 750 bills, more than all other then-governors combined, and left the state with a $1 billion budget surplus. Since leaving office in 2003 due to term limits, he has advocated for marijuana legalization, climbed Mount Everest, and has entered into presidential politics.

During the 2008 Republican primaries, Johnson endorsed the candidacy of Congressman Ron Paul, the Libertarian Party's 1988 presidential nominee. In 2012, he chose to mount his own presidential campaign, seeking the Republican Party nomination on a platform of non-interventionism in foreign affairs and extensive cuts to the federal budget. Though he participated in two early Republican debates, Johnson was barred from most due to low poll numbers. As a result, in December, he decided to end his Republican campaign and return to the Libertarian Party.

After months of campaigning, Johnson edged activist R. Lee Wrights on the first ballot with 70 percent of the 595 convention delegates. Wrights received only 25 percent. In contrast, former Congressman Bob Barr took six ballots to secure the 2008 nomination.

Upon his victory, Johnson proclaimed, "I am honored and I just want to pledge that no one will be disappointed. We’re going to grow the Libertarian Party." He suggested the party nominate James P. Gray as his running mate, and they complied, choosing Gray as the vice presidential nominee. Gray is a jurist, who has served as a trial judge for Orange County, California since 1983. He ran for Congress as a Republican in 1998, and was the Libertarian Party's 2004 nominee for U.S. Senate in California. In his writings and media appearances, Gray has advocated against the War on Drugs.

In 2008, the Libertarian Party appeared on 45 state ballots with Barr winning 0.4 percent of the popular vote. A recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey shows Johnson with six percent national support in a matchup with President Barack Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. A PPP poll from December showed Johnson with 23 percent support in a three way race in New Mexico.