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Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson cuts to the chase: ‘This is about winning’

May 5, 2012

It’s official - Gary Johnson is the 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee, and he’s in it to win it.

Shortly before noon local time at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico secured the LP nomination in the first round of balloting, setting the stage for a three-way presidential race featuring two former governors vying to unseat the incumbent.

After accepting the nomination and thanking those in attendance, Johnson made a pledge. “None of you,” he said, “are going to regret what happened here today.”

Johnson went on to assure the Libertarian faithful that not only does he mean to compete, he means to win the 2012 presidential race. “This is about winning,” Johnson said in his brief post-nomination address. For those who didn’t get it the first time, he repeated himself. “This is about winning.” Johnson then asked the assemblage to support his choice for vice president, former federal prosecutor and California Superior Court Judge Jim Gray. Gray won the VP nomination later in the afternoon. Portions of the convention were televised on C-SPAN both Friday and Saturday.

Johnson’s closest rival for the nomination was Lee Wrights, publisher of an online Libertarian newsletter and an Air Force veteran. After Johnson won the nomination with 70 percent of the vote, Wrights took the stage to show his support for Johnson: “Let’s get this guy elected,” he urged the crowd. Wrights received about 26 percent of the vote.

Although the Libertarian Party will be on the November ballot in at least 49 states, Johnson now faces the challenge of gaining media attention and being included in national polling. A poll last month by Public Policy Polling gave Johnson 7 percent, compared to 46 percent for President Obama and 39 percent for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney. In New Mexico, a traditionally Democratic state where Johnson served as governor from 1995 to 2003, Johnson is garnering 15 percent in polls pitting him against Obama and Romney.

If Johnson can poll at 15 percent or better nationally in the months leading up to the presidential debates in October, he will share the debate stage with Obama and Romney. The last time a three-person presidential debate took place during the general election campaign was 1992, when Ross Perot joined Democratic nominee Bill Clinton in debating incumbent President George H.W. Bush.

Perhaps Libertarian Party Chairman Mark Hinkle was on to something with a remark he made prior to dismissing the attendees for lunch. “Do you think we’re a threat to the Establishment? Damn right we are.”

Hinkle went on to note that Obama officially kicked off his re-election campaign on the day the Libertarians nominated Johnson. Coincidence or not, Obama’s timing could be construed as trying to deflect attention from Johnson's nomination.

Since its founding in 1972, the Libertarian Party has been a champion of equal rights, although it believes human beings are innately endowed with these rights and do not need the government enacting special laws to codify what is already self-evident. It should be no surprise, then, that Johnson’s nomination was announced by Tonie Nathan, the first female to receive an electoral vote. She was the Libertarian Party’s vice presidential candidate in 1972, when she ran on the ticket with the LP’s first presidential nominee, John Hospers. One Virginia elector defected from landslide winners, the incumbent President Richard M. Nixon and Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, to vote for Hospers and Nathan.

To date, the best Libertarian performance in a presidential election was 1980, when the Ed Clark-David Koch (yes, that David Koch) ticket won more than 900,000 votes, gaining 1.1 percent to Ronald Reagan’s 50.7 percent, Jimmy Carter’s 41 percent and independent John Anderson’s 6.6 percent.

If you like writing about U.S. politics and the 2012 campaign, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.

SOURCES & RESOURCES:

Libertarian Party Wikipedia page

The Libertarian Party website

C-SPAN, live TV coverage and website

Gary Johnson’s official 2012 campaign website

Johnson likely to get Libertarian nomination, Santa Fe New Mexican, May 2, 2012

Gary Johnson wins Libertarian nomination, reason.com, May 5, 2012

OTHER PUNDITTY ARTICLES ON GARY JOHNSON

Libertarian Party comes of age with Johnson-Gray ticket in 2012, May 2, 2012

Could marijuana politics become a ‘front burner’ issue in Campaign 2012? April 12, 2012

Developments in GOP race indicate Gary Johnson will be a major factor in November, Jan. 20, 2012

Gary Johnson’s executive style: Put issues first, politics last to get good government, Dec. 10, 2011

Marijuana Movement: GOP presidential hopeful challenges Obama to reclassify cannabis, Nov. 3, 2011

Help Gary Johnson get invited to the next Republican debate, Nov. 9 in Michigan, Oct. 19, 2011

Gary Johnson tops Google Trends after GOP presidential hopefuls debate in Florida, Sept. 23, 2011

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