For the first time in history, the Libertarian party looks to make a real play in the presidential election after nominating former New Mexico Republican Governor Gary Johnson for President and former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld as Johnson’s Vice Presidential running mate Sunday afternoon at the party convention in Orlando, Florida.
In the first ballot Johnson reached 49.5 percent of the vote, according to the official party total, just missing the needed majority. Johnson was challenged by Austin Petersen and John McAfee who received 21 and 14 percent of the vote. Johnson won the nomination on the second ballot with 55.8 percent of the vote. Johnson’s running mate Weld also needed two ballots to clinch the nomination.
A Libertarian ticket with two former Republican Governors could play a pivotal role in the general election as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are both viewed in a negative light by many Americans. Johnson looks to take more votes away from Trump as Libertarians are considered to be on the far right with a strict small government ideology.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity for the Libertarian Party. We have not had a three-party candidate with the amount of negative energy towards them in the modern area. These candidates are frankly hated,” Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark said.
Johnson didn’t waste any time going after the Republican nominee Sunday afternoon after he was asked about taking on Donald Trump.
“Well, taking him on the fact that he wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, taking him on wanting to build a fence across the border, that’s nuts. Taking him on when he says that Mexicans are murderers and rapists, I mean, it’s incendiary!” said Johnson.
Governor Johnson was the Republican Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2003. His website states that Johnson brings a distinct business-like mentality to governing, believing that public policy decisions should be based on costs and benefits rather than strict ideology.
Johnson’s veto record as governor is also notable as he vetoed more than 750 bills during his time in office — more than all other governors combined.
“As a border state governor, it’s incendiary to 50% of the population of New Mexico that he’s talking about Hispanics and Mexicans in this way when the absolute opposite is true!” said Johnson, who believes Trump’s description of Mexico’s informal foreign policy of unloading many of its worst people, murderers, and rapists onto America is disrespectful and insulting towards all Mexicans and Hispanic people.
Winning the White House might be a long shot for Johnson, who in the 2012 presidential election garnered only 1 percent of the vote, but national polls are showing that he is sure to play a bigger role in many swing states this fall.
Johnson is currently polling at 10 percent in recent polls against Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That 10 percent looks to reflect discontent with the other two candidates as much as Johnson’s popularity. Another national poll showed that 44 percent of registered voters want a third party to run against the two major party candidates. However, Johnson has a lot of work ahead of him to make a real play in the general because he will need to reach 15 percent in national polls to qualify for presidential debates.