The Libertarian Party has chosen former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson to represent them in the U.S. presidential campaign. In an increasingly difficult race for The White House the Libertarian Party is making a play for the presidential office. On Friday, May 27, 2016, over 1,000 Libertarian delegates convened in Orlando, Florida to vote for their candidate. After a weekend-long convention and two rounds of votes on Sunday, May 29, 2016, the Party chose the man they believe can out edge the presumptive Republican and Democratic nominees.
Johnson was a Republican when he was governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003. He was a controversial choice for the Party. Johnson was the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president in 2012 and was unable to rally the needed support to make an impact winning only one percent of votes in the 2012 race. Some of the more diehard Libertarians also see Johnson as Republican-light believing he does not embody every Libertarian Party value. The Libertarian Party considers themselves to be economically conservative and socially liberal. Johnson failed to get the 50 percent required to win the first round of votes coming in at 49.5 percent; he won with 55.8 percent in the second round.
Johnson considers himself an alternative to Bernie Sanders and told NBC News that he was more aligned with Sanders’ views than with those of Hillary Clinton. The Libertarian Party is emboldened to make a play for the White House this election year because of the widespread dissatisfaction with the presumptive nominees Clinton for the Democrats and Republican Donald Trump. A poll conducted by “The Wall Street Journal” and NBC News found that 47 percent of Americans would consider a third party candidate this election season.
Johnson beat out four other opponents during the convention. Saturday, May 28, 2016, the candidates addressed their support for Party views during a debate. Some of those views include legalizing all drugs, limiting government surveillance, and reducing U.S. military involvement in the Middle East. One quote from Johnson during the debate was that if all drugs became legal tomorrow, the world would be better off.
The Libertarian Party is the only third party on the ballot in all 50 states in their play for the White House. Recent polls show that Johnson is earning about 10 percent of support from potential voters. However, he will need no less than 15 percent of support in the polls to be invited to participate in presidential debates. The party is suing the debate commission to lower the percentage standard, citing that the rules are created to intentionally and unjustly exclude independent or third party candidates from participating, as reported by “The Washington Post.” If the Libertarian Party succeeds in challenging the commission, “The Washinton Post” says it will be the first time in history a third party candidate stood at the podiums in an official presidential debate.
The Libertarian Party still has to vote for a vice presidential nominee. Johnson is hoping the next Libertarian Party vote for vice president goes to Bill Weld. Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld is Johnson’s first choice, going as far to say that he could not win without him. Many in the Libertarian Party do not think Weld holds their views to heart, saying his stance on gun control goes against their primary philosophy of no government involvement in citizens bearing arms.
Now that the Libertarian Party has its candidate, Johnson will need to focus on fundraising. The Libertarian Party nominee has been running his campaign to date on a shoestring budget. Candidates like Clinton are further along in funding their campaign and having won the support of influential super Pacs. The Libertarian Party has a battle ahead to compete on the world stage in the race to the White House.
By Gichele Cocrelle
The Washington Post:Libertarian Party Sues for Access to Presidential Debates, calls exclusion unfair and illegal
NBC News: Is the Libertarian Party Ready for Primetime?
NPR: Libertarian Party Set to Pick Its Presidential Candidate
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