Inside the Capitol

Friday, December 30, 2011

1-4 Gary goes Libertarian

20411 Gary the Libertarian

SANTA FE – Gary Johnson is moving. A few days ago, I told you where several of New Mexico's former politicos are hanging out. I said former Gov. Gary Johnson usually could be found in the mountains of New Hampshire doing something adventurous plus a little politicking.
Johnson felt like the victim in the famous movie "Catch 22." He couldn't get on the stage with other candidates for debates because his poll numbers were so low. And his poll numbers were low because the national GOP and its state affiliates omitted him from the ballots they prepared for news organizations to use in determining the candidates invited to speak.
It was obvious to Johnson that it had been decided in a board room somewhere that the Republican Party did not want him to be a candidate. My guess is because Johnson is too conservative on fiscal issues and too liberal on social issues.
So Johnson decided to concentrate on New Hampshire, which has an early primary and is more in line with his beliefs. But a good showing in New Hampshire was looking less likely. So Johnson started talking with Libertarian Party officials, who had been interested in him for 12 years.
In 2000, Johnson likely could have had the nomination for the asking. Now he has to work for it because nine other Libertarians have entered the race. The national nominating convention will be held May 4 and 5, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It will be a process of lining up convention votes just as he had to do back in 1994 to get on the New Mexico Republican primary ballot. Johnson had trouble then and it won't be easy this time either. Johnson will have to get staff and volunteers working Nevada hard because that is where the convention will be held.
One good sign is that the Libertarian leadership knows him. Johnson has always had a Libertarian philosophy and has long talked a Libertarian game.
Mike Blessing, chairman of the New Mexico Libertarian Party says he thinks Johnson has a good chance of winning the national Libertarian nomination.
The chairman of the National Libertarian Party flew to New Mexico to be present at Johnson's announcement. In his remarks Mark Hinkle said that Johnson is the first two-term governor of any state to join the Libertarian Party.
Johnson ran as a Republican only because Republicans are more electable in general elections. Now he has to try it another way. In addition, Johnson will need at least a minimum effort in every other state. He has little staff and little money so that won't be easy.
The National Libertarian Party works very hard at always being qualified for the ballot in every state. So Johnson won't have to bother getting signatures around the country.
What will be Johnson's effect on the national presidential race? Minimal, probably. He'll peel votes from both Republicans and Democrats. Independents may be more pleased with his candidacy. It gives them another choice plus maybe a platform they could like better.
The biggest effect could be in the Electoral College. Although Johnson's total vote will be small, he could make a difference in who wins a state, especially a small state like New Mexico.
We have had some exceedingly close votes in presidential races.
Al Gore won this state by 366 votes in 2000. Johnson will get more than that. A poll early in the GOP presidential primary season showed Gary Johnson winning the state against the Republican candidates at the time. He still will do reasonably well.

Can New Mexico's five electoral votes make a difference nationally? Every year political prognosticators come up with scenarios in which a few electoral votes can make a difference.
Remember back to 2000 again when Florida was figuratively hung up over a hanging chad. The U.S. Supreme Court had to decide that one.
So Gary Johnson's address will change from New Hampshire to America.


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