Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson won the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination on Sunday in Orlando, FL, making this his second run for the White House in four years.
Challenged by Libertarian Republic magazine founder Austin Petersen and anti-virus software company founder John McAfee, the ex-Republican governor won his party’s nomination on the second ballot after falling just short of the required majority of delegates on the first go-around.
Former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Bill Weld won the vice-presidential nomination, as expected, and will help raise what Johnson has stated as a goal of “tens of millions of dollars”, for the campaign.
In 2012, Gov. Johnson only spent $2.5 million campaigning, and received just under one percent of the popular vote — more than any other third-party candidate that year.
The first hurdle for a third-party candidate to be taken seriously is to participate in at least one debate with the Democratic and Republican nominees, a tall order given the Commission on Presidential Debates requirement to poll at 15 percent nationally.
However, given the two presumptive nominees historically low favorability ratings, the time may be right for an outsider to challenge the two-party system and at least become part of the national conversation come the fall.
One of the keys for Johnson is to garner support from disaffected Republicans unhappy with their party’s nominee. In that vein, Trump was a target at the Libertarian convention, with candidate Petersen calling him a fascist and Johnson labeling his proposed immigration policy as “just racist”.
Vice-presidential nominee Bill Weld took a more positive approach, however.
“Someone doesn’t have to be disaffected with Ms. Clinton to think we have a good story,” Weld announced. “One doesn’t have to be ‘Never Trump’ to see that we were two of the most fiscally conservative governors in the United States.”
Johnson described his political ideology in stark terms, identifying as “fiscally conservative in spades . . . socially liberal in spades.”
“I would cut back on military interventions that have the unintended consequences of making us less safe in the world,” Johnson added.
After the floor vote had concluded, Libertarian National Committee chair Nicholas Sarwark admitted to reporters that the party has reached out to the Koch network through a “back channel” and that he has had personal conversations with former Freedomworks president Matt Kibbe about supporting Johnson.