Libertarians nominate ex-Governor Gary Johnson for president

LAS VEGAS Sat May 5, 2012 11:20pm EDT

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson speaks at meeting of the Concord Rotary Club in Concord, New Hampshire August 23, 2011. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson speaks at meeting of the Concord Rotary Club in Concord, New Hampshire August 23, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Snyder

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - The U.S. Libertarian Party on Saturday chose former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was once a Republican White House hopeful, as its presidential candidate in the November 6 election.

Johnson, who announced in December he would run for president as a Libertarian after mounting a long-shot candidacy for the Republican nomination, won 70 percent of the votes cast by 632 delegates at the party's convention in Las Vegas, Libertarian Party spokesman Stephen Gordon said.

Johnson, who became the front-runner after winning straw polls at 12 previous state debates, beat Air Force veteran R. Lee Wrights, after the field narrowed to two candidates from six at the start of the convention on Thursday.

"I am very humbled. This is just the start," Johnson told Reuters after securing the nomination of the Libertarian Party, whose philosophy is "minimum government, maximum freedom."

Third parties have traditionally fared poorly in the two-party U.S. political system long dominated by Republicans and Democrats.

The Libertarians' best presidential showing came in 1980 when nominee Ed Clark won 921,128 votes or 1.1 percent. In the 2008 election, party nominee Bob Barr, a former Republican congressman, got 523,686 votes or 0.4 percent.

Johnson, 59, is running on a platform that includes slashing government spending to balance the federal budget by 2013, as well as ending the war on drugs, beginning with the legalization of marijuana.

Delegates said their preference for Johnson stemmed from his experience as Republican New Mexico governor from 1995 to 2003, which they said gave him a greater chance of success in a national election. Wrights had no prior political experience.

Democratic President Barack Obama is seeking re-election in the November election. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is the presumptive Republican nominee.

APPEAL TO RON PAUL SUPPORTERS?

Party officials hope they can count on supporters of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul for votes in the general election. Paul's campaign has focused on issues favored by Libertarians like small government and a non-interventionist foreign policy.

Paul, who ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988, is the last remaining Republican challenger to Romney. The Texas congressman is far behind in the polls and has not won a single nominating contest.

As New Mexico governor, Johnson vetoed so many bills - some 750 - that he was later nicknamed "Governor Veto" - a record he referred to in a debate on Friday as evidence of his strong character.

Wrights, 53, avoided complex policy proposals. Asked about gun control, he said, "I don't know about the rest of y'all, but you don't want to be crawling into my window after midnight." On foreign policy, he said, "Stop being a nosy neighbor and start being a good neighbor."

Both spoke of abolishing multiple federal agencies. The crowd's favorite target was the Internal Revenue Service, but proposals to curb the Departments of Homeland Security, Housing and Urban Development, Agriculture, and Education were also greeted by applause.

(Editing by Tim Gaynor and Peter Cooney)

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Comments (10)
k.mitchell wrote:
Go Gary! One of the only honest politicians in the race, besides Paul of course. Paul means well and truly believes that his policies will help the country, but I think he is a bit too extreme. Obama has been terrible, and Romney would be no different from Obama.

May 06, 2012 2:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
pinchy0819 wrote:
Go Gary! Go Gary! I have never in my life voted for a third party candidate, but I’ll vote for Gary! We needed a serious, viable alternative to the hijacked republican (now the tea) party and President Obama, and here is one.

If you don’t know him, go and search his name. Don’t leave it up to the media to get his name out there…YOU do some research and start talking about him. “Gary who?” is not an option here.

May 06, 2012 7:20am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Giggles555 wrote:
So what is Gary Johnsons position on the current student loan debt crisis? Has he even touched on this subject?

May 06, 2012 7:22am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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