Gary Johnson

Ralph Nader's Advice To Gary Johnson

The second to last third party debate before Election Day featured four candidates with high expectations and steep challenges.

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WASHINGTON—The second to last third party debate before Election Day featured four candidates with high expectations and steep challenges.

Victory on Tuesday is an essentially impossible goal to reach for Justice Party nominee Rocky Anderson, a former mayor of Salt Lake City, as well as for Constitution Party nominee Virgil Goode, a former Virginia congressman. With near nationwide ballot access, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a Massachusetts physician, have a very narrow path to reaching 5 percent of the popular vote.

Debate moderator Ralph Nader, a five time presidential candidate, knows a thing or two about aiming for that elusive 5 percent. Seated at the center of the roundtable, Nader presided over the debate as a senior statesman of sorts for modern third party candidates. His 2.74 percent of the popular vote in 2000, when he ran on the Green Party line, remains the high-water mark for third party candidates in the 21st century.

"If they just want to go for 5 percent it argues for campaigning intensively in a few states where they're reasonably popular or where the polls show they can get more. I managed to have an obligation I imposed on myself to campaign in all 50 states every time. Only candidate to do so but you don't maximize your vote that way. If I just campaigned in California, New England, New York, I probably would have got more votes," Nader said.

Johnson has avoided the Nader 50 state approach and campaigned in several libertarian-leaning states like Colorado and New Hampshire while repeatedly visiting states like Ohio and Texas where the Libertarian Party is well organized. When Nader ran in 2000 the Greens were not organized the way the Libertarians are today in key states.

Since 2000 Nader has eclipsed the Libertarian candidate on the ballot, once as a Green and twice as an independent, but that streak now ends as Nader is not running this year. Nader chalks that success up to his reputation as a consumer advocate rather than as a failing of the Libertarian candidates during previous cycles.

"It's just amazing how many people would have liked to vote for me if they thought I could win but because they don't think third party candidates have a chance to win the votes dwindle away in droves just weeks before the election," he lamented.

Johnson, who showed a more aggressive and snarky side in the debate when sparring with the left-leaning Anderson and Stein, said that Nader gave the candidates a brief pep talk before the debate.

"He said he's still involved in litigation (from his previous runs) and that he was very impressed that we got on the ballot in Pennsylvania," Johnson said.

Johnson and Stein are scheduled to participate in the final Free & Equal debate tonight at RT Studios in Washington. The debate will be broadcast and streamed live. Johnson will greet voters tomorrow at the poll here in the District before flying to Albuquerque for his election night party.  

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34 responses to “Ralph Nader's Advice To Gary Johnson

  1. His 2.74 percent of the popular vote in 2000, when he ran on the Green Party line, remains the high-water mark for third party candidates in the 21st century.

    2000 was the last year of the 20th century.

    1. don’t start

    2. Let’s just not. The presidential term up for grabs began on January 20, 2001 anyway.

    3. We are on Millennium savings time.

    4. That’s not a very high high water mark.

      1. Nope.

        Best advice would have been for Johnson to run for Senate in his home state. He could have accomplished a great deal, that way.

        1. He can give a third-party a real chance to compete in 2016.

          Being a junior senator in New Mexico would have had a bigger effect?

    5. 2000 was the last year of the 20th century.

      Exactly right. People seem to forget there was no year 0. And the election was in 2000, not 2001.

  2. and for the record, the alt-text is sans American Cricket references.

    1. I almost fell out of my chair yesterday — CNN mentioned the third party candidates. Of course they grouped them all together, mentioning Gary Johnson (a two-term governor) last, and mentioned they had a debate, without saying it was on C-SPAN or why CNN did not bother to televise it. Then they had Larry King on for a minute, and he said that Gary Johnson had the best chance on Tuesday, and might hurt Romney (not mentioning that he’s most likely to hurt Obama in Colorado.)

  3. I’ve got my fingers crossed for Johnson to poll up to 10% in New Mexico, and more than the difference between Romney and Obama in Ohio and Colorado. Other than that, no expectations.

    1. It would make me ecstatic if Obamney are so close in Ohio that Johnson has more than the difference there too.

      I would also like my Johnson vote to contribute to that in Pennsylvania, but I doubt it will.

      1. Same here in Wisconsin. I don’t see it happening. The Walker Affair got both sides all riled up. It will be more difficult to peel people away from the the major parties because there’s a feeling of besiegement.

        The question is…if Johnson costs Romney several key states, how will the Party react? Will the Republicans realize the pro-war social conservative shtick is costing them votes or will they hunker down and turn against the moderates and libertarians? A split in the party would be nice. We haven’t had a good party realignment since 1856.

        1. I’ve been wishing for such a thing for about a decade now. Why won’t these damn alliances break up already?

          1. Because the partners in them see them as reasonably effective. Most people are able to roll logs on lots of issues that are on the agenda. That is, there are some issues they care deeply about and others they care little or nothing about, and are therefore willing to concede the latter to gain the former. Ideologs like radical libertarians, or maybe even consistent moderate libertarians, don’t have the benefits of trade, because they take a side on so many issues there’s nothing to trade with, although theoretically there’s everything to trade for.

        2. This is probably a minority view, but my hope, at least in the Northeast, is that if Johnson covers the spread in moderate states like New Hampshire and Pennsylvania, the Reps might completely give up the social conservative nonsense and might actually try to please us by getting rid of the occasional government program.

          1. That’s going to happen only if libertarians enter the GOP in force the way the Religious Right did in the late 1970s. Parties don’t woo factions first, the factions get into the parties of their own accord and then gain influence there.

            1. “…the factions get into the parties of their own accord and then gain influence there.”

              Kinda’ like the Ebola virus.

            2. I think they are doing that in a haphazard lurchy sort of way. Those guys are the good cop. The bad cop is the Libertarian Party. It’s better to have both.

        3. The only good way to tell whether one candidate cost another is exit polling. Do you think anyone will poll on that?

          The meme persists among amateurs (but I doubt among the pros) that Perot cost Bush, but exit polling said otherwise.

          Most interesting would be if Johnson cost Obama Colo. That’s about the only way I can see to leverage candidates on drug issues.

          1. I voted for Perot in 92. I would have voted Libertarian if Perot weren’t running, as I did in 88 and 96 (when Perot had little chance.)

  4. Amazing that Nader would find campaign laws (arguable, a form of regulation) to be burdensome, huh?

    1. Regulations are for other people.

  5. MY advice to Gary’s Johnson?

    Don’t listen to Ralph Nader.

      1. Nader has toned down his Nanny State rhetoric a bit in recent years but he’s still not worth listening to for political advice. This is especially true for liberty minded people.

  6. Where the Libertarian National Socialist Green Party at?

    1. You mean the Republican Party of California?

  7. Any link to the video of the third party debate at busboys and poets?

  8. seriously, i’m only really interested in mj legalization in Washington and Colorado.

  9. It’s just amazing how many people would have liked to vote for me if they thought I could win but because they don’t think third party candidates have a chance to win the votes dwindle away in droves just weeks before the election

    See? Even Gary Johnson thinks John and Tulpa are assholes.

  10. Why didn’t Nader suggest that Johnson get some laws passed so that California college students would be forced to pay fees that support his organization’s slush fund?

    Nader may be a filthy rat, but you have to give him credit for pulling that one off.

  11. With near nationwide ballot access, Libertarian nominee Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, and Green Party nominee Jill Stein, a Massachusetts physician, have a very narrow path to reaching 5 percent of the popular vote.

    Five percent? Why not aim for 40 percent, and the win? Jill Stein has a very narrow path to capturing the votes of the 2 percent of the population that identifies with the Green party and doesn’t like Obama. Gary Johnson has a better record and a more mainstream platform than Romney or Obama — if people were forced to vote for the candidates without names, labels, ads, or punditocracy, he would likely win.

  12. Since when is Colorado Libertarian-leanning?

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