Now that Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson has left the Republican race and is going for the Libertarian Party's nomination, he is no longer in direct competition with fellow libertarian-ish Republican (or Republicanish libertarian) Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas). Still, in the event of Ron Paul winning the nomination, there is definitely an overlap in fans of small government. Which candidate to choose?
Some people have decided why not choose both? MSNBC.com reports that Gary Johnson's New Hampshire staffers have switched to supporting Ron Paul, at least for the duration of the Republican primary race . (They have not, however, officially joined the Paul campaign, nor are they getting paid.) Their reasoning? The name of progress for sweet lady liberty, whoever is bringing it to the people's attention.
And if Paul does not win the nomination, these staffers will be back behind Johnson. As MSNBC nicely put it:
"I've never been someone who votes for the lesser of two evils," said [former New Hampshire Johnson campaign communications director Matt] Simon, referring to New Hampshire front runners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich.
Johnson, who like Paul in '07 suffered the "no respect" effect, doesn't seem offended by this buffet-style small government sampling. In fact, Johnson recently told the Daily Caller that "yeah," his supporters should vote for Ron Paul in the general election, but:
I'm believing that Ron Paul is not going to win the nomination, and that is the exciting part about this for me. I do think it is about an agenda and a message. I think Ron Paul's a messenger. I think that I am. I think there are others."
In a Wednesday statement announcing his Libertarian Party candidacy, Johnson noted, "While Ron Paul is a good man and a libertarian who I proudly endorsed for president in 2008, there is no guarantee he will be the Republican nominee."
"You know the old adage, by the time you tell a person the tenth time, that's just when they are first starting to listen," Johnson explained, suggesting that he would build on the libertarian message that Paul has championed so loudly.
Johnson's current communications director, quoted in the MSNBC article, is similarly magnanimous:
"With the New Hampshire primary coming and with Gary having announced he is running as a libertarian, it makes perfect sense for them to be supporting Ron Paul in the primary."
Johnson obviously jumped ship from the Republican Party because it and the media weren't giving him a fair chance (inviting him to only two out of 15 debates, being under "other" candidates instead of mentioned by name in various polls, etc.). He was a member of the Libertarian Party even while serving as Republican Governor of New Mexico. And Paul of course ran for president as a Libertarian in 1988. So both men have flirted with both parties throughout their political lives.
If Paul gets the nomination, small government supporters who vote will have to make a choice. Until then, and in spite of some lingering regret over how shoddily Johnson was treated by the GOP as he tried to demand room for a second libertarian-ish candidate, it's still awesome to have both Johnson and Paul out there — whatever their party affiliation— putting the message of small government ahead of winning at all costs.