GOP presidential candidate Gary Johnson considers Libertarian Party run

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gary Johnson in January 2011.
Image: Gage Skidmore.

Former New Mexico governor and current Republican Party (GOP) presidential candidate Gary Johnson is reportedly considering a run for the Libertarian Party (LP) presidential nomination. Johnson feels "abandoned by the Republican Party", he told The Santa Fe New Mexican, due to his exclusion from nine of the eleven GOP debates and believes the LP would give him a fair shot at their nomination.

Johnson espouses libertarian views including marijuana legalization and defense budget cuts, which often run afoul of the GOP mainstream. Earlier this month, after filing suit with the Federal Election Commission and Federal Communication Commission for his exclusion from the November 12 CBS debate, he chastised the GOP establishment for failing to support him. The GOP agreed with the debate's inclusion criteria, which turned back candidates with less than three percent support in the Real Clear Politics average and third quarter fundraising receipts below US$1 million.

Johnson raised a little under US$240,000 in the third quarter and lately has not even been included in polls. He did appear in an August CNN poll, in which he led former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman. Despite their standing, both Santorum and Huntsman have been invited to every debate.

Johnson believes his exclusion was a "boardroom decision" to protect the GOP's "status quo." But Republican party attorney John R. Phillippe Jr. says that without a minimum standard, "the debates would be utter chaos and unhelpful to Republican voters".

If Johnson decides to leave the GOP and seek the LP nomination, it would not be the first time a member of the Republican Party did so. In 2008, former Republican Congressman Bob Barr ran and was selected as the LP nominee. In the general election, he garnered 0.4 percent of the popular vote.

For 2012, the LP has achieved ballot access in all 50 states, and currently has nine presidential candidates, including National Guard officer R.J. Harris and Libertarian activist R. Lee Wrights.