LAS VEGAS, Nev. — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson is campaigning to
win the White House as a Libertarian after receiving scant attention in
the Republican presidential race.
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Johnson easily became the party's presidential nominee at the
Libertarian national convention in Las Vegas, Nev., on Saturday. He said he
hopes to appeal to voters fed up with the traditional two-party system
Johnson was a long-shot candidate for the Republican presidential
nomination when he announced in December that he would instead pursue
the Libertarian ticket.
He won 70 percent of the vote on the first ballot in Las Vegas, an
unusual showing of support. His closest challenger, R. Lee Wrights of
Texas, finished with 25 percent of the ballots. In 2008, Libertarian delegates
needed six rounds of voting to pick a presidential nominee.
"I am honored, and I just want to pledge that no one will be
disappointed. We're going to grow the Libertarian Party," Johnson said
after the vote.
There were no complaints of carpetbagging among the delegates
despite Johnson's sudden embrace of the Libertarian movement after his
Republican loss. Some noted that his gubernatorial experience could lend
the party more credibility among Republican and Democratic voters.
"I am convinced that Gary Johnson will be an exceptional candidate,"
said Chairman Mark Hinkle. "Libertarians will show voters how we can
make government small while dramatically increasing jobs, lowering taxes
and scaling back government debt."
Johnson is fiscally conservative but supports such liberal causes as
legalizing marijuana, immigration reform and abortion rights.
During a recent campaign stop in Las Vegas, Johnson told The
Associated Press that he plans to court Democratic voters who support
legalized marijuana, as well as Republican voters unhappy with former
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's health care law.
Johnson was excluded from all but two GOP presidential debates and
barely registered in polls. Moving forward, he said he hopes to reach 15
percent approval in national polls and at least win New Mexico in
November. Nevada could also be in play, he said.
Johnson was elected New Mexico's governor in 1994.
Elisheva Levin, vice chairwoman of the Libertarian Party in New Mexico,
said she always viewed Johnson as a Libertarian and voted for him for
"He governed from a Libertarian stance," she said.
• • • • •
Rob Nikolewski, editor of the blog CapitolReportNewMexico.com
, was also in Las Vegas and provided The New Mexican
with courtesy video of remarks made by Johnson after receiving the nomination. Johnson makes an appeal to Ron Paul supporters. (CLICK HERE
for Nikolewski's coverage).
Also, here is a link to an article from Wednesday by Santa Fe New Mexican
reporter Steve Terrell that includes comments from Johnson discussing his chances at receiving the party's nomination:
Also from that article:
So far, the only national polling organization that has included Johnson
as a third choice is Public Policy Polling, a North Carolina-based
company affiliated with the Democratic Party. In late March, a
nationwide Public Policy Polling survey found Johnson taking 7 percent
of the vote, (with Obama at 46 percent and Romney at 39 percent).
Johnson said he believes that if he continues polling at least 6 percent
or 7 percent in the Public Policy Polling surveys, other national
polling organizations will begin including him. "If you're a reputable
pollster, you couldn't ignore that," he said.
The former governor also said he could get a boost from those who
supported Paul in the primaries when the Texas congressman ends his
campaign. While Johnson said he does not expect to be endorsed by Paul
himself, he said, "What happens to Ron Paul supporters? I believe
they'll find me to be a very credible alternative."
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