Former N.M. Governor Gary Johnson Seeks White House As LibertarianMay 23, 2012Posted in Blog, News
While the Republicans and the Democrats are still a few months away from the official nomination and the announcement of their candidates for the President of the United States, the nation’s third-largest political party has selected their candidate for this November’s general election. On Saturday, May 5, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson was officially nominated as the Libertarian Party’s 2012 Presidential Candidate. Johnson was the overwhelming choice of the Libertarians, picking up 70 percent of the delegates.
Johnson recently spoke to the Elizabethton STAR about his life, his career and his ongoing campaign to be the next President.
Born in Minot, N.D. in 1952, Johnson said his family later moved to New Mexico. He is a 1975 graduate of the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science degree. During his time in college, Johnson noted that he began his own business, a handyman service, which later became the largest construction company in New Mexico. When he sold the business in 1999, the company employed a workforce of 1,000.
In 1994, Johnson said he made the choice to make a run for Governor of New Mexico. Running as a Republican, Johnson admitted that his candidacy was considered a long-shot. “New Mexico is 2-1 Democrat,” he said. “Despite that and the fact I had never held elected office, I was able to win the general election in 1994 and 1998.”
In his eight years as New Mexico Governor, Johnson commented that he earned a reputation for his fiscally conservative policies and his support of civil liberties. For the first six months of his first term, Johnson vetoed nearly 50 percent of the bills that were passed by the state legislature. On several other bills, the governor utilized the state’s line-item veto clause, which gives the governor the ability to veto specific portions of a piece of legislation.
When the former New Mexico Governor announced his candidacy for the White House last year, Johnson made the decision to run as a Republican. After being locked out of several scheduled debates with the other GOP candidates, he officially announced he would drop out of the Republican Primaries and seek the Libertarian Party’s nomination for President. Johnson won the LP’s nomination on their first ballot earlier this month.
A significant part of his campaign platform deals with balancing the federal budget, reducing the size of Washington bureaucracy and the elimination of the federal income tax. Johnson said he pledges to send a balanced budget to Congress and will veto any budget that is not balanced.
Johnson also supports the elimination of the Internal Revenue Service and the federal income tax in favor of a national consumption tax. The Fair Tax, as it has been called, would eliminate the income tax. In its place, a federal sales tax of 23 percent would be placed on all news goods and services. Proponents of the Fair Tax argue that the cost of goods and services would actually be reduced since corporate income tax would be eliminated and its cost would not be passed on to consumers. Opponents of the legislation say it would place a greater burden upon the lower and middle class and reduce the tax impact to the wealthiest Americans.
Johnson is well-known for his support of school choice. Despite public support by New Mexicans for his school voucher legislation, Johnson was unable to get the measure passed in the legislature. He noted, “When parents have school choice, it fosters competition in education.”
Since the federal government first formed the U.S. Department of Education in 1979, Johnson said there is a clear correlation with the reduction in the quality of American schools. He also believes the federal government has clearly overstepped their authority by placing unfunded mandates on local school systems. “Right now, the federal government mandates every state has to spend 16 cents per dollar on education, but they only give the states 11 cents. That means it’s actually a negative for state and local governments to take federal money for schools,” Johnson argued.
The decades-long American Drug War is another important issue for Johnson. He said he favors the legalization of marijuana and believes that the rise in synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine, synthetic marijuana and the so-called “bath salts” are a direct result of drug prohibition. “Methamphetamine is the best example of the prohibition phenomenon. The drug is easily made with household chemicals and many people have turned to methamphetamine because of our failed drug war,” Johnson said. Using the analogy of 1920’s Alcohol Prohibition, the governor said several similarities can be drawn between that and the drug war. He believes that the black market created by drug prohibition has fueled the rise in crime and poverty throughout the country. He also contends that drug laws are highly prejudicial against minorities and the poor. “If you are black, you are four-times more likely to be arrested and prosecuted for a drug offense. That clearly shows our drug laws are geared to be more punitive against minorities.”
Johnson’s Vice-Presidential running-mate is former California Superior Court Judge and Federal Prosecutor Jim Gray. Johnson said he has the highest regards for Gray’s abilities and his political philosophy. “Should I win the presidency, Judge Gray would obviously be one heartbeat away from the job. If something happened to me and he had to step into the position, I have no doubts about his abilities to be President,” Johnson said.
Johnson shares a great deal of political similarities with Texas Congressman Ron Paul, who is seeking the Republican’s nomination for the White House. While Johnson said he has a great deal of respect for Paul and his work to reduce the size of the federal government, he does not believe he will have the necessary support by the Republican National Convention to obtain their nomination. If Paul is no longer in the race, Johnson said, “There is a viable alternative in my campaign. Ron Paul’s supporters understand there is something wrong with the direction of our nation. They are tuned into the problems and they understand that we can longer turn our back on them.”