Johnson/Gray Now On More Ballots Than Barr/Root In 2008
The Libertarians are on the cusp of obtaining nationwide ballot access for the first time since 1996. Can they do it?
With the additions of Alabama, Connecticut, Kentucky, and Rhode Island, the Gary Johnson and Jim Gray ticket is now on more ballots than the 2008 Libertarian ticket of Bob Barr and Wayne Allyn Root. Johnson is certified in 47 states plus the District of Columbia while the Barr campaign only managed 45 states, minus D.C. The campaign is fighting legal battles in Oklahoma, Michigan, and Pennsylvania in hopes of obtaining its goal of nationwide ballot access.
In Oklahoma the Johnson campaign is facing its toughest fight as they failed to gain status as the Libertarian Party but still managed to get on the ballot on the Americans Elect line. They are being challenged by Republicans because Americas Elect did not host a national convention to nominate a candidate. Oklahoma is notorious for high ballot access hurdles and it's unlikely the LP would be even fighting here if it weren't for the now zombified Americans Elect corpse. If they lose their fight in Oklahoma on this issue, there is no chance Johnson and Gray will get on the ballot in time before Election Day.
Michigan has been a long-term thorn in the side of the Johnson campaign because it's the only state that has actually gone to the mat on its "sore loser" law. Johnson has been tangled in lawsuits since he missed a deadline to remove his name from the Michigan Republican primary ballot by three minutes. In the event that their efforts fail, the Libertarians are using Gary E. Johnson of Texas as a stand-in on their ballot line. U.S. District Judge Paul Borman ruled against Johnson, denying him a spot on the ballot. Michigan Secretary of State Ruth Johnson is refusing to place Gary Johnson of Texas on the ballot there because "no provision in of the Michigan Election Law authorizes a political party to nominate a contingent or stand-in candidate." According to people close to the campaign they are gearing up for a fight in state court but if that fails they have organized a write-in campaign as a last resort.
The Keystone State appears as the least challenging of their three fights. Johnson's signatures are facing a challenge from state Republicans on the grounds that some them, along with their paperwork, contain defects that should invalidate them. They are being challenged on three counts and if any of them fail then Johnson should make it on the ballot. In the event they succeed the Johnson campaign would have a week to get their house in order to get back on the ballot.
Fifty state ballot access isn't out of the question for the Johnson campaign but these three states are making things difficult for them. The last Libertarian presidential ticket to make it on the ballot in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, a feat they have accomplished three times, was the 1996 campaign of Harry Browne. In 2000 the Libertarians were on the ballot in all 50 states but Neil Smith, not Browne, was on the ballot as the party's presidential candidate in Arizona.