Election 2012

The Two Gary Johnsons

A Texas namesake helps the Libertarian Prez candidate fight Michigan's attempt to throw him off the ballot.


Austin – The loudest cheers at Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Earl Johnson's packed Austin dinner, the largest event so far during his swing through Texas, came when Johnson talked about a recurring problem his campaign has faced: ballot access problems.

The state of Michigan has something called a "sore loser law" that prevents candidates who lose a party primary from changing parties to run in the general election. The law rarely applies to presidential elections but Michigan is an exception.

"It's a railroad job," former New Mexico governor Johnson said offstage at Hill's Café, taking a break from posing for photos and shaking hands.

Johnson campaigned for president on the Republican ticket through 2011, but he never participated in any primaries. He withdrew from the race on December 28, five days prior to the Iowa Caucus and two weeks before polls opened in New Hampshire. Michigan didn't even hold it's primary until a full two months after Johnson decided not to run in any Republican race. 

"Look, I didn't want on the ballot in Michigan in the first place. I never asked to be on the ballot. They put me on the ballot and then they said, 'For you to get off the ballot that we've put you on, unbeknownst to you, you have to fill out a document saying you don't want on the ballot,'" said former Governor Johnson.

Johnson's team found out about this shortly before the deadline and had to scramble to clear all the logistical hurdles the Wolverine State throws up to maintain party control of the primary ballot. But they fell short by three minutes. According to Johnson, Michigan declined the campaign's request to remove Johnson from the ballot because his paperwork was stamped at 4:03pm instead of 4:00pm.

Johnson was furious. He and the Michigan Libertarian Party filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan. Johnson noted that John Anderson ran in Michigan's Republican primary before he jumped ship and ran as an independent in the state without a problem in 1980.

"Why did we have to do this in the first place? To get off the ballot that we never asked to be on?"

Enter Johnson's knight in shining armor: Gary Edward Johnson, an investor and longtime Libertarian Party activist in Texas who has run for everything from community college board to U.S. Senate but never for president. That might change if the Michigan LP's court battle fails.

For now Texas Johnson is what's known as a placeholder, somebody who holds a spot on a ballot for a third party candidate until he or she actually qualifies. Texas Johnson's place on the ballot now guarantees that a a Gary E. Johnson/Jim Gray ticket on the Libertarian line will still appear on the ballot if the lawsuit fails.

When Taos, New Mexico-based Johnson went to pick up his credentials in Las Vegas at the start of the Libertarian National Convention, he was given a name tag for a Gary Johnson. It turns out that Texas Johnson was standing behind him in line at the credentials booth. The two struck up a friendly conversation that led New Mexico Johnson and his campaign to start submitting his name to state election commissions as "Gary Johnson," so if a problem came up local state parties could put "Gary E. Johnson" on the ballot instead.

Texas Johnson, a former secretary of the LNC, was more than happy to accommodate this plan.

Two ballot access experts, Bill Hall and Richard Winger, spoke with Texas Johnson before approaching the Johnson campaign about doing something like this. The trio researched Michigan laws and determined that what they wanted to do was completely legal. Gary Sinawski, the legal counsel for the Libertarian National Committee, is involved in the Michigan fight, too.

The offices for the Michigan Libertarian Party and the Michigan Secretary of State were both closed over the weekend. In 2008 Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root received 23, 716 votes, or 0.47% of the vote, in Michigan.

Born in the same year as the former governor, Texas Johnson laughs about the situation he is.

If the suit fails and New Mexico Johnson is kept off the ballot he said, "I'll probably go up there."

He then rattled off arcane FEC reporting rules while recounting old campaign stories, sounding eager to get out on the trail.

While Texas Johnson was sitting far away from the stage Steve Haskett, a Libertarian with a ZZ Top beard, came over and patted him on the back.

"I hope you win the hell out of Michigan!" Haskett said. 

"Why thank you very much," Texas Johnson replied. 

"Now I've met two presidential candidates!" 

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  1. “Michigan: It’s an expensive place to do business, but our byzantine election laws will make up for it!”


    1. “Michigan: it might be cold, but at least we have rampant unemployment and a stupid demonym.”

      1. Silly, but not as silly as “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the Michigander.”

    2. “Michigan: Fuck us. Go Bucks!.”

      1. Yes. Let us all fuck Michigan. Go Bucks!

      2. “Michigan: Second-Best Program in the Fourth-Best Conference.”

  2. this tale just explains how steep the hill is. I remember the LP’s efforts to get on the ballot in North Carolina, not just for it but for any party not named Dem or Rep. People claim to hate conspiracies but the system is rigged by the big dogs.

    Apparently, neither has realized that no one forced to vote for a 3rd party. Hell, most people don’t even consider doing so until and unless the two major parties have royally screwed the pooch.

    1. This is why the better strategy is to take over an established Team. I also subscribe to RP’s philosophy of obtaining this goal through educating the masses on the benefits of liberty.

      As SB says below:

      Until there are more people for whom liberty is important, the LP will make no headway.

  3. Pyrrhic victories like this only highlight the quixotic nature of third-party tickets. Where ballot access isn’t the impediment, the electoral college will be.

    Better to cease vying in vain for the presidency, or for a proportional, partisan control of the Congress, and to support a reformed system wherein every candidate must run upon the merits of his or her individual ideas:


  4. Another tactic is to find Libertarians with the same name as prominent Dem and GOP politicans and put them on the ballot. The LP of Penna. once had the cousin of the mayor of Pitsburgh on the ballot (same last name) and his vote total was many times higher than had his last name been “Jones.” This could really confound the big parties if it were done in their primaries as a protest against their antics in keeping third parties off the ballot.

    1. I can see it now: laws will be passed ensuring either a) only one person of any last name can be placed on a ballot or b) only people with a politically active background will be placed on if thy have a similar or same name as another candidate. It’ll be done to, you know, preserve democracy and stuff.

      1. (a) will never work in Korea

    2. that tactic just highlights the impact that the stupid can have on outcomes. That’s not a solution, it’s political Russian roulette.

    3. Interesting. I am now scouring the country for any team politician who shares my name. If I find one, then I’m going to move to his (or her; I have occasionally seen females with the same first name) district and run in the next election just to see what happens.

      Caveats: I will not move to California, New York, or Chicago.

      1. Or New Jersey.

      2. Or Hawaii, Massachusetts, or Rhode Island.

      3. Surely you’re not serious?

        1. I’m actually kind of serious. I have nothing really tying me here, and nurses are in high demand, so I can easily find a job anywhere I want to go.

          1. I lob you a softball and you whiff on it?

            I am disappoint!

            1. I didn’t whiff. I didn’t even take a swing. I just stood there like Mighty Casey.

        2. I am serious…

          …and don’t call me Shirley.

    4. Like when Tommy Thompson’s libertarian brother ran for governor in Wisconsin?

  5. Until there are more people for whom liberty is important, the LP will make no headway.

    Perhaps we should adopt the progressive’s strategy of slow steady progress, generations long. Taking over the education system as they have done would be a good start. Lets just start hatching more libertarians.

    1. Lets just start hatching more libertarians.

      Banjos has but one uterus and I’m just one man.

      1. aren’t you in CA? Octomom’s doc will be happy to help. Why, he might be remembered as the Father of the Libertarian Movement.

        1. Ooh, good point. Or, they could get the doctors from Twins that made that semen cocktail producing the Governator and DeVito?

          They’re gonna have to get a different receptacle than my wife, though. Isn’t there an intern’s opening for a woman at the LA offices of reason? Just make that a requirement.

        2. True story, my cousin (who is a nurse) helped Octomom at a prenatal appointment when she was pregnant with the 8 kids. And yes, she was every bit as demanding and weird as you would expect

      2. Banjos has but one uterus and I’m just one man.

        Isn’t it a bit presumptuous that your offspring will adopt the same political leanings as his/her parents Sloop? I mean, the kid might freely choose to belong to one of the Teams. Then what?

        1. I was going by the early results of my two other kids being pretty libertarian and making an assumption.

          Besides, if they turn out to be Team Blue or Team Red, I’ll simply disown them. (Jut kidding)

          1. I dont know if your son is a libertarian, but he is a hell of a bartender!

    2. Taking over the education system as they have done would be a good start.

      I kind of feel this way too, but it’s going to have to be done the same way the left did, through stealth and deception. If libertarians are up front and honest about their agenda, they won’t even get a foot in the front door.

  6. OT: I ascribe to the “Jaws is a perfect movie” theory. I can’t think of any way the movie could be improved, either by adding or cutting a scene or replacing a single cast member.

    I just watched Grosse Pointe Blank for the umpteenth time, and I’m gonna have to say, I think it belongs in the same category. Not a single scene could have been improved upon, IMO.*


    *And I believe Joan Cusack should be jailed indefinitely for crimes against humanity for what she has done to the art of acting.

    1. Agree on both. Jaws gets a lot of hype for being the first in that genre, but it really was an exceptional movie. Acting, story line, the whole deal.

    2. It’s very unusual that a single franchise can produce a perfect movie and one of the worst movies ever made.

    3. Agree on GPB, but disagree on Joan Cusack.

      1. jaws filmed when i used to live on martha’s vineyard.

        my acting coach got a sweet part – the first kid that gets killed on the raft, and she goes and slaps the police chief in the face.it was a bit part, but her skills are such that almost everybody remembers it.

        quint’s shack is still sitting on a dune in menemsha.

    4. I always thought Roy Scheider’s wife was pretty annoying.

  7. For now Texas Johnson is what’s known as a placeholder

    Is that a real Johnson, or a Texas Johnson?

  8. It’s like a 21st century Agatha Christie novel or something.

  9. Is Michigan threatening to cut off our Johnson?

  10. The Libertarian Party has had a number of candidates named Gary Johnson, it being a pretty common name. One of them was W. Gary Johnson, who liked to go by his middle name. Another was a Gary T. Johnson.

  11. interesting case at volokh.com…

    New Mexico Supreme Court Will Hear the Elane Photography Case

    Eugene Volokh ? August 17, 2012 7:09 pm

    I’m pleased to say that the New Mexico Supreme Court will hear the Willock v. Elane Photography case, which I’ve blogged about extensively. The court will now decide whether

    (1) holding a wedding photographer liable for refusing to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony violates New Mexico’s statutory ban on sexual orientation discrimination, and

    (2) even if it does violate the statute, whether the photographer is nonetheless immune from punishment because

    (a) requiring her to create photographs that she doesn’t want to create is a speech compulsion, in violation of the Free Speech Clause,

    (b) she is entitled to an exemption under the federal or state Free Exercise Clauses, and

    (c) she is entitled to an exemption under New Mexico’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

    For more on all these theories, see this thread.

    1. I wonder what New Mexico’s legal definition of “sexual orientation” is in this context, and whether the photographer’s orientation is being discriminated against.

  12. no nut punch here. just a great example of cops going out of their way, on their own time and even with their own money to help juvenile sex trafficking victims, where no other agency did.

    –deputy sheriff Andy Connor named “Citizen of the Year 2012” for his work in helping, along with other police officers, found The Genesis Project. This program helps take juvenile sex trafficking victims off the streets, and helps them with addiction, resources etc. To this date, dozens of underage girls have been rescued. WA ranks among the top 3 of states in juvenile sex trafficking.

    Connor works the Seatac area, an area made infamous for prostitution (think Green River Killer).

    fwiw, i think prostitution should be legal. but these are cases of adult pimps grooming, giving drugs to, and selling underage females to customers in the greater seattle area for sex. genesis project has rescued 13 yr olds for fuck’s sake from these predatory scum

    some misinformed person here the other day commented on how cops are not counselors/social workers etc. and continued the false reason meme that its always about arrest . in fact, our job sees us act to help people, and as quasi counselors, social workers, etc. FAR FAR FAR more often than we act in a law enforcement role. and under the constitution(al) law, our role as community caretaker and protector of people in need is amongst our most important functions.

    1. you will never read about such heroic actions in reason, but cops like connor, banks, taylor, etc. are out there helping people and saving them from scum every single day, usually with no recognition

      good interview with connor ( a former seahawk before he entered law enforcement) here


      what makes the genesis project special? (from the website)…

      “What makes the Genesis Project unique is our close ties with law enforcement. Our board of directors includes three law enforcement officers (LEOs), each with over a decade of experience working with victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. Our board treasurer is also a member of the FBI’s Innocence Lost Task Force, focusing on sex trafficking crimes involving minors. Our board’s desire is to train other LEOs to better identify and interview victims of sex trafficking, using a victim centered approach that will help victims feel comfortable enough to escape. The Genesis Project can then be a safe location where LEOs can take victims if they desire help.

      1. Law enforcement involvement allows access to victims not usually accessible for nonprofits, and advantages when it comes to victim security. Here are a few examples:

        LEOs can access children sold online, through undercover stings. These victims are usually isolated and traditionally very difficult to find and rescue otherwise.

        Victims who have been “arrested” for prostitution cannot deny being trafficked. Under everyday conditions, the average victim will not acknowledge being trafficked out of shame or fear. Police with evidence of trafficking have taken away that ability to deny it and can open them up to help.

        LEOs can have access to victims without pimp interference. Victims who have been arrested are taken out of direct control of the pimp, and can be spoken to without direct interference or intimidation from the pimp.

        Protection from pimps and legal resources through the police department. Victims often have a fear of retaliation or consequences from their pimp if they were to escape and then get caught, which often prevents them from leaving. Law Enforcement involvement gives them a certain degree of security. LEOs can work on a case to get the pimp put in jail and can help victims navigate the legal system more effectively.

        1. LEOs are rescuers with the ability to defend themselves. We have heard from many survivors of trafficking that they had multiple people offer them help while they were in “the life”. However they said that they knew that those sweet people offering them help had no way of defending themselves if the pimp were to find them. So they said they refused help out of concern for the welfare of those helping them. LEOs are the people best equipped to defend themselves against criminals, and are often the only people feared by pimps, which gives the victims a sense that they can get out and be ok.

  13. Oh, I thought this was going to be an article about his split personality or secret life or something like that. Oh well, it was still pretty good, I guess.

  14. Gary Johnsons biggest problem is that he’s not Ron Paul…

    1. His biggest problem is that Ron Paul’s followers, for the large part, don’t actually give two shits about the philosophy, they’re just riding a cult of personality through their 20’s.

  15. This will be interesting for the Libertarian Party.

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