Gary Johnson 2012 presidential campaign
|Gary Johnson 2012|
|Campaign||2012 United States presidential election|
Former Governor of New Mexico
|Affiliation||Libertarian Party (formerly Republican Party)|
|Headquarters||Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.|
|Key people||Jim Gray (Running mate)|
Ron Nielson (Senior Advisor)
|Receipts||US$2,553,878  (Nov. 26, 2012)|
|Slogan||The People's President|
|Gary Johnson 2012|
The 2012 presidential campaign of Gary Johnson, the 29th Governor of New Mexico, was announced on April 21, 2011. He declared his candidacy for the 2012 Republican Party nomination for President of the United States. On December 28, 2011, Johnson withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination, and declared his candidacy for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party. The 2012 Libertarian National Convention was held during the first weekend of May 2012. On May 5, 2012, after promoting his libertarian-oriented political positions to delegates, Johnson received the most votes at the convention and became the official 2012 Libertarian presidential nominee. On November 6, 2012, Johnson received just under 1% of the popular vote in the general election, amounting to more than 1.2 million votes, more than double what the Barr/Root ticket received in 2008. This was the most successful result for a third-party presidential candidacy since 2000, and the best in the Libertarian Party's history by vote number at the time. Johnson ran again in 2016 and received nearly four times his 2012 vote total.
Johnson initially indicated interest in running for president in the 2012 election in 2009. In October of that year, he founded the Our America Initiative, a 501(c)(4) "nonprofit political advocacy committee that promotes common-sense business approaches to governing." The stated focus of the organization was to "...speak out on issues regarding topics such as government efficiency, lowering taxes, ending the war on drugs, protecting civil liberties, revitalizing the economy and promoting entrepreneurship and privatization." The move prompted speculation among media pundits and Johnson's supporters as to whether he was laying the groundwork for a 2012 presidential run.
In December 2009, Johnson hired strategist Ron Nielson of NSON Opinion Strategy to organize the committee. Nielson has worked with Johnson since 1993 when he ran his successful gubernatorial campaign.
Throughout 2010, Johnson repeatedly deflected questions regarding his potential presidential candidacy by explaining that his 501(c)(4) status forbade him from expressing a desire to run for federal office.
In February 2011, Johnson was a featured speaker at both the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the Republican Liberty Caucus. Johnson tied with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for third in the CPAC Straw Poll, trailing only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. In that poll, he placed ahead of such notables as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Alaska Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. David Weigel of Slate called Johnson the second-biggest winner of the conference, writing that his "third-place showing in the straw poll gave Johnson his first real media hook ... He met tons of reporters, commanded a small scrum after the vote, and is a slightly lighter shade of dark horse now."
On April 21, 2011 Johnson officially announced via Twitter that he was running for president. He followed this announcement with a speech at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire.
Johnson chose Ron Nielson of NSON Opinion Strategy, the director of both of his two New Mexico gubernatorial campaigns, as his presidential campaign manager and senior advisor. His campaign was run from Salt Lake City, Utah, where Nielson's offices are located. Johnson's economics advisor was Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron.
Johnson participated in the first of the Republican presidential debates, hosted by Fox News in South Carolina on May 5, 2011, appearing on stage with Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann both declined to debate.
Johnson was excluded from the next three debates on June 13 (hosted by CNN in New Hampshire), August 11 (hosted by Fox News in Iowa), and September 7 (hosted by CNN in California). After the first exclusion, Johnson made a 43-minute video responding to each of the debate questions, which he posted on YouTube. The first exclusion, which was widely publicized, gave Johnson "a little bump" in name recognition and an increase in small donations for a few days. Not being in the debate caused serious long-term problems for the campaign as it became difficult to raise money from donors, Johnson's name being pulled from polls and few opportunities from the media to respond to events. For the financial quarter ending June 30, Johnson raised a mere $180,000. Johnson still managed to poll higher two weeks prior to the September 7th debate than Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman, who were invited to that debate while Johnson was not.
Then, on September 21, Fox News decided that because Johnson polled at least 2% in five recent polls, he could participate in a September 23 debate in Florida, which it co-hosted with the Florida Republican Party (the party objected to Johnson's inclusion). Johnson participated, appearing on stage with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. During the debate, Johnson delivered what many media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, and Time, called the best line of the night: "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this current administration." Entertainment Weekly opined that Johnson had won the debate.
Switch to Libertarian Party
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On November 29, 2011, Johnson confirmed reports that he was ending all campaign activities for the New Hampshire primary, citing his inability to gain any traction with the primary's likely voters. Stated Johnson: "It's not happening in New Hampshire. We rode bikes 500 miles across the state, we scheduled town halls – for whatever reason, nobody's really coming out to hear what it is I have to say." Johnson confirmed reports that he was considering a run on the Libertarian Party (LP) ticket. Libertarian Party officials reported that Johnson would make an announcement on his political future on December 28, 2011; Politico reported it was expected that he would drop his bid for the Republican nomination and seek the Libertarian nomination instead.
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On December 28, 2011, Johnson announced at press conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico that he had withdrawn his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, and officially declared his candidacy for the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nomination. During the announcement, Johnson stated, "I'm a Libertarian in belief. I successfully governed as a Libertarian in everything but the name, and I am running for president as a Libertarian." Johnson was quickly identified as the early front-runner for the party's nomination and polled more than seventy percent of votes cast in the California Libertarian Party's straw poll on March 3, 2012.
On April 30, 2012 Johnson formally endorsed retired California Superior Court judge Jim Gray as his choice for running mate on the LP ticket in anticipation of receiving the nomination at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention in May 2012.
On May 5, 2012, at the Libertarian National Convention, Johnson received the Libertarian Party's official nomination for President of the United States by a vote of 419 votes to 152 votes for second-place candidate Lee Wrights. Following his nomination, Johnson asked the convention's delegates to nominate as his vice-presidential running-mate Judge Jim Gray of California. Gray won the vice-presidential nomination on the first ballot.
Although there were numerous challenges to Johnson's ballot access, the Libertarian Party confirmed that Johnson received ballot access in 48 states and Washington D.C.. The Libertarian Party was able to achieve write-in vote status in Michigan, with Oklahoma the only state to not include Johnson at all.
Johnson faced resistance from Republicans over the matter of whether or not Johnson would appear on several state ballots. In some states, such as Pennsylvania, where Johnson had more than the officially required number of signatures necessary for the Libertarian Party candidate to appear on the ballot, the validity of the signatures was contested by Republicans. In Iowa, a lawsuit was filed suing the Iowa Secretary of State, Matt Schultz, to remove Johnson from the ballot; the suit said that a reason for fighting Johnson’s appearance on the ballot was that Johnson would cause "irreparable harm to other candidates and political parties who must compete against him," and that his appearance would cause "irreparable injury to the voting public because it could improperly impact the election."
When speaking of Johnson’s chances of making the ballot in the three states that had not up to that point agreed to include Johnson, Richard Winger, editor of Ballot Access News, said that "Pennsylvania is likely, Michigan a maybe, Oklahoma almost impossible." On October 10, the Libertarian Party declared success in Pennsylvania.
By October Johnson was confirmed to be on the ballot in 48 states and in the District of Columbia, with only Michigan and Oklahoma still in litigation in regards to his ballot access. In the end Johnson received write-in status in Michigan, but was completely excluded from the Oklahoma ballot.
Johnson and Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein sued the Commission on Presidential Debates, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee, alleging that the Commission's failure to extend them an invitation to the 2012 violated the Sherman Antitrust Act and the First Amendment. Johnson and Stein's suit was dismissed by the federal courts; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled in 2017 that the two candidates lacked a valid legal claim or a cognizable injury.
Relationship with Ron Paul's campaign
Initially, Johnson hoped Ron Paul would not run for president so that Johnson could galvanize from Paul's network of libertarian-minded voters. Johnson even traveled to Houston to tell Paul of his decision to run in person. But Paul announced his own candidacy on May 13, 2011.
Following Paul’s failure to receive the Republican nomination, Johnson actively sought, and, to at least some level, received the support of Paul's libertarian minded supporters for his own campaign. Paul himself did not officially endorse anybody, though in an October 2012 interview Paul hinted, but did not confirm that he was planning on voting for Johnson.
Campaign financial data
The Johnson-Gray campaign raised $2,553,878 with 87% from private donations and 13% from federal funds. No money was raised from any PACs. In comparison, Barack Obama's campaign raised over $632,000,000 (spending almost $541,000,000)  and Mitt Romney's campaign raised over $389,000,000 (spending over $336,000,000).
|Total Raised ($)||Total Spent ($)||Cash on Hand ($)||Debts ($)|
Johnson finished with 1,247,923 votes, which at that time was an all-time Libertarian Party record in terms of raw total. He received 0.99% of the popular vote, which was then the party's second-best showing ever in vote percentage in a presidential election, behind that of Ed Clark in 1980. In his home state of New Mexico, Johnson received 3.6% of the vote.
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You have the luxury of choices. You have the most dangerous president since Abraham Lincoln who wants to be reelected. You have a guy who, when he ran for the Senate ran to the left of Ted Kennedy; when he was governor of Massachusetts he governed like he was [inaudible]. Now that he’s running for president he claims to be a severe conservative. And you have a lover of liberty by the name of Governor Gary Johnson. You decide.
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- "LIbertarian Party of Kentucky Presidential Debates: the Finale!". Libertarian Party. May 9, 2020. Event occurs at 51m41s. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
I have voted for the Libertarian presidential candidate every time since I voted for Ed Clark in 1980.
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