Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson Not Sure He'll Run for President Again


ALBUQUERQUE – Gary Johnson rolls his carry-on luggage into the western chic lobby of the Hotel Albuquerque the morning after Election Day with the same carefree swagger he showed throughout his 2012 presidential campaign. Wearing sunglasses, he sets down his LL Bean looking backpack and extends a hand, issuing his favorite greeting, "Whadya know, man?"

He's chirpy and refreshed after an early night on the final day of a nationwide journey that started in April 2011. This was not the demeanor one would expect from a man who just finished in third place in a presidential election with 1 percent of the popular vote.

"I'm disappointed really from last night. I don't think the vote was reflective of the excitement that is out here, the sentiment that is out there, I mean what that's due to? Did it have to do with the fact that people really did take it to heart that their vote wasn't gonna count and the lesser of two evils stuff as opposed to voting for the person you most align yourself with? I do think what I am saying aligns with most Americans but that didn't bare itself out at all so that was a disappointment," he says as communications director Joe Hunter looks on.

Despite his liveliness the morning after a record setting result for a Libertarian presidential candidate, Johnson can't contain his dejection at the way things turned out. 

"On an expectations level we were really thinking twice that amount was really kinda the lower end of it. Because of the resources we had, we weren't able to tap into whether that was gonna happen," he says.

Discussions with Johnson's staff revealed that, indeed, they did not conduct any internal polling throughout the campaign due to limited resources. So, they looked to other signs of interest and support like public polls where he was included on the list of candidates, and internet metrics. Johnson rattles off some facts and figures about Google+ and Twitter, then stumbles. Hunter intercedes with some search engine numbers.

"You were the fourth most searched in the last couple of days," Hunter says.

"I was the fourth most searched in the last couple of days! Wow! That just didn't equate to the votes," Johnson says.

"I thought we generated the excitement, I thought we put a voice to issues that needed a voice. I think we did it. Like I say, from our vantage point we were gonna do a lot, lot better. That was based on polls that as recently had me at 5.6 percent in Ohio. That didn't pan out at all; it just evaporated," Johnson says.

Getting one percent of the popular vote was not exactly how Johnson hoped this nearly two-year journey would end, but it's something he considered. "I did envision this path. The notion of potentially running as a Libertarian, I did see that down the road," he says.

There isn't anything he thinks the campaign could have done differently, outside of raise more money, to improve the result. Johnson likes to point out that they spent approximately $2 per vote and got 1/100 of the popular vote. Johnson doesn't have much sympathy for Romney or openness to the idea that Libertarians should abandon the LP and infiltrate the other parties to make them more libertarian. Johnson says he thinks Libertarians are making the other parties more libertarian by remaining in the LP.

In the short term, Johnson plans to go back to his house in Taos to conduct some long overdue home maintenance before heading to Washington next week for some media appearances and party business. The long game for Johnson, though, is a bit more blurry. In earlier interviews with Reason he's hinted at the possibility of another presidential run in 2016, but now, the morning after, he sounds more uncertain.

Taking into account the track record of third party presidential candidates that run in consecutive cycles he said that he probably wouldn't do so well. Ross Perot and Harry Browne both saw their vote totals go down by nearly half the second time they ran. Ralph Nader peaked in 2000 and never came close to those numbers in two subsequent presidential runs in 2004 and 2008.

"You can't not do this and not be aware of the history. The history would suggest that we would do worse if we try this again," Johnson says.

A Republican operative in New Mexico told me last night that Johnson could have done well, if not better than Heather Wilson, in the race for U.S. Senate here, but Johnson maintains that it's an office he has no interest in. Democrat Martin Heinrich defeated Wilson 51-4.5 while Jon Barrie, running on the American Independent line, picked up 3.6 percent of the vote.

"I would have never predicted this," Johnson says on the outcome of the Senate race in his home state where he is still fairly popular. 

Johnson says he plans to stick with the Libertarians but he would not rule out a return to the Republicans for a future run.

"Never say never." 

NEXT: Iran Seeks To Drive a Wedge Between Obama, Israel

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  1. Just wanted to warn everyone here. There are idiots everywhere!

  2. No one could put a dent in the cult of personality, but in 2016 he might do better against Biden and Rubio!

    1. Dude, look at the completely-separated-from-reality cultish shit that TEAM BLUE is currently saying about Warren. I think cult of personality is the new rule. They’ve already divorced themselves from reality; why not continue to do so for every candidate?

      This is only going to get worse.

      1. Was it ever better? Do you think FDR was reelected on his record?

        1. Dude it was different just 20 years ago. I know because I remember. Yeah, there have always been partisan politics. But the outright delusions, the complete, purposeful ignoring of reality, and flat-out groupthink? It’s at unprecedented levels. I’d like to hear whether other people agree with me here.

          1. I agree. Even Reagan and FDR were more admired than idolized; what we’ve got with Obama is beyond creepy.

            1. It’s off the fucking charts. The left has always been much more about people’s words than their actions, but holy fuck, Obama can do the exact opposite of what he says, right out in the open, and it’s waved away. His actions literally mean nothing to them. Nothing.

              It’s insanely creepy, because that means he can almost assuredly do stuff that’s way more fucked up and they won’t care. And he probably will.

              1. Beyond not caring, they’ll cheer and act as if it’s what they wanted all along.

                Conservatives will bitch about Reagan’s amnesty. Liberals will criticize FDR’s internment. What is the Obama equivalent for most of these shrubs?

              2. Well, that’s how dictatorships get started in republics.

                1. I kind of think you’re right. The thing is, it occurs to me that, if Obama were to target someone, he could easily enough set a mob on someone and the media would pretty much treat it as an unfortunate event of a protest that got out of hand.

            2. Reagan was admired, FDR was/is sacrosanct for many. When I criticized FDR once my father looked at me like I peed on his shoes and shot his dog.

              No, this cult crap ain’t new for team Blue.

              1. There’s a big difference between worshiping a historical figure whose image has been polished over the years by historians and the like, and worshiping a guy who is doing stuff right now. That you can see.

                I mean, did TEAM BLUE worship Carter like this? Truman? Even Clinton?

                1. My father lived under FDR and his tales of America coming together by sacrificing used to inspire me … UNTIL I discovered so much of what I was told ain’t true and it was just merely bullies controlling the lives of others.

                  Many, MANY Democrat household still have pictures of FDR/JFK/MLK and now Obama … it’s a friggin’ cult.

                  1. Eh, I think Reagan is at least revered as much by conservatives as FDR and Kennedy are by Dems. Probably more today, since he’s a more recent figure

                    1. Conservatives criticize him all the time, and acknowledge weaknesses, but yea they look up to him and lionize him bit much … but still…

                    2. I don’t recall Reagan getting the acclaim he does now during his administration.

                    3. Many conservatives thought he was selling out to Gorbachev and we were gonna lose to the Russian, they hated his amnesty…

                    4. That’s right. I knew a few that really didn’t like him much.

                      Clinton was actively disliked by quite a few of the rank and file Democrats for the obvious reason that he was mostly a Republican for six years. They all forget that now.

                    5. I don’t think Reagan gets regularly criticized by Republicans these days. Maybe when he was in office, but not today. It’s pretty much a requirement for Republican candidates to bow at the altar of Reagan during the primaries

                2. J.F.K. Despite his many glaring character flaws was generally regarded with almost Eccleastic reverence from the progs in spite of the fact he was a total fucking degenerate. His “martyrdom” merely enshrined his undeserved sainthood.

          2. Dude it was different just 20 years ago. I know because I remember.

            What I remember is feminists letting Bill Clinton get away with using his authority to get sexual favors from women. Team Blue has always been pretty bad about it. Team Red has only really ever done it with Reagan.

  3. I voted for Gary. Only once, though.

  4. I’m hoping for a Rand Paul/Justin Amash run in 2016. I just hope they turn out to be good at political gaming — otherwise, shit won’t stick in 2016.

    1. The GOP is doing some serious soul-searching right now. Hopefully they will decided social conservatism / economic moderation is a horrible combination.

      Maybe they’ll wake up.

      1. Oh, I’m certain that blocks within the GOP are going to come to their senses, but that’s the problem — it can’t be in factions. The whole party has to make the push, or shit won’t fly.

  5. Don’t care. Not voting in 2016. I voted for myself for Pres this year – very liberating.

    But I’m done. No more tacitly “buying in to the system” by voting. I’m just gonna bitch, keep my taxes as low as possible, break as many laws as I can, and do my best to avoid contact with too many statists.

    1. Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      1. I’m too lazy to write one, although if I did, it would be totally AWESOME.

        1. Can I do the pretend cartoons? I’d be better than Bagge.

    2. No more tacitly “buying in to the system” by voting.

      Damn that’s hard stupid. There’s no ‘buying in’. You’re in. Sorry.

    3. But, if you don’t vote you have no right to complain!!!

      /indoctrinated idiot

      I never got that line of thinking. I’d say that the order of right to complain should be:

      1. Those that voted for another guy
      2. Those that didn’t vote
      3. Those that voted for the guy who won.

  6. Why isn’t he interested in a Senate run? The country desperately needs a libertarian voice in that chamber.

    1. I call bullshit. If his advisers deem it a viable option, he’ll run for the Senate.

      1. There were several legitimate polls last year showing him winning if he were to run for U.S. senate from New Mexico as the GOP nominee.

        But GJ dismissed them, saying he is an “executive”.

        1. Then he has to be convinced it’s worth a shot. Let’s spam his email, or something.

          1. You’re the organizer

        2. Johnson is kinda dumb on the whole strategy bit.

    2. Yes, can someone explain why, once he was drummed out of the presidential primaries, he didn’t run for the open Senate seat from New Mexico?

      1. because once folks get used to sitting behind the big desk, sitting behind one of the 535 smaller ones is a letdown. Power. It’s the ultimate for all these guys.

        1. I can imagine most people wanting to sit behind this desk:

        2. A Senator wields similar power to a Governor, depending on the size of a state.

          U.S. Senator from Hawaii outranks the Governor.

      2. I’m betting he doesn’t want to leave New Mexico to go live in DC, even part time.

    3. The Senate is where it’s at. If it were still split 50-50, a libertarian leaning Senator (like Rand Paul) would have a tremendous amount of power to stop the worst bills from both sides. Since the Dems have a bit larger lead now, we would need 3 or 4 libertarian-leaning Senators. That would be better than a few dozen guys in the House.

    4. Well think about it, he’s never held a legislative post. He was an entrepreneur who ran his own company and then moved into the governors mansion (or whatever they have there in NM). He’s always been an executive who could take action, sure, not unlimited action but within the bounds around him he called the shots and made the decisions. A Legislative position on the other hand he gets to make few if any actual decisions save for which votes he casts. Given how much a “man of action” he seems to be I’m betting the role of sitting around in comittee meetings all day would kill him inside.

      Yes I agree that the country needs him in that role, I can just easily see why it would not appeal to him.

  7. Dear Gary:

    Hoping this isn’t necessary, but just in case:
    Please don’t be dissuaded by the fact that they are federally funded by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). They are from the government and they are here to help you.
    With love,

  8. My guess is that 95% of voters, including the vast majority of those who might be sympathetic to him, did not even know that there were more than two candidates.

    1. I think that the Internet is probably going to help third parties more than established parties in spreading their message.

      1. That’s what I thought was going to happen in 2012 back in 2008 but it didn’t.

        The internet has just become a new platform for the corporate media to push their propaganda.

        Now people get their news via or AP articles on Yahoo as opposed to the cable channel or newspapers. Big whoop.

        And the “independent” sources are just bastions of partisan hackery like HuffPo on the left or Drudge on the right.

        A candidate who isn’t in the debates, polls, or media coverage is doomed to obscurity and that’s not going to change.

        1. People are getting (slowly) exposed. It’s far from anywhere effective.

          I doubt Gary Johnson would have gotten 1% without the Internet. That’s the only place I heard *anything* about Johnson, media-wise.

          1. Ed Clark got 1.1 percent in 1980, without the Internet. I’m not sure how anyone heard of him. I did see one national TV ad, so that must have done the trick. Plus the LP was unknown then, so people didn’t think of it as fringe, just new.

        2. One guy on the City-Data forum mentionned a interesting rant then I quote:”You guys are all brain washed. Do you see what the media has done to all of you. They do not want Gary Johnson to get 5% and get Federal funding. They know it will end the two party system if he does. That is what the media is trying to prevent. If you all keep saying lets wait till 2016 your be saying the same thing in 2016 lets wait till 2020 and so on. You guys have to suck it up and say no more right now.”

    2. The media blackout of G-Money was stunning. I recall past LP candidates getting a little air time, and their results showing up on TV on election night. I guess when the LP ran unqualified conservative-leaning candidates, the media felt safe talking about them. When the LP ran a very well qualified liberal-leaning Libertarian, they didn’t dare treat him seriously, or mention him at all.

      1. Aside from the fact that I don’t see how you get Johnson as liberal-leaning (I mean, come on, the guy initially ran as a Republican,), I’d say you’re about right. I’ve described Johnson to friends as “Basically like Ron Paul, only he doesn’t sound crazy”. And I think that’s what drove the media blackout. Here was a guy with a solid executive background who could make libertarianism seem like the sensible, responsible, boring even, alternative to those other weirdos (Romney and Obama). No way in hell the media was going to tolerate that. If the Libertarians run a guy who self-marginalizes, the media will give him all the press time in the world. He’s an offbeat human interest story. But an actual candidate is a whole other matter.

  9. Libertarians were well aware that 15 was likely. The polls nationwide were doing about twice as before, What is odd is his people didn’t know this, suggesting he needs to have better contact with party activists.

    1. Depending on how they play it the next four years, I the the LP could get 5 to 10% next time around. 15% sounds like an upper limit, but doable.

      1. 1.5%. You left out the decimal point.

        1. Yeah, 5% is delusional.

  10. “I was the fourth most searched in the last couple of days! Wow! That just didn’t equate to the votes,” Johnson says.

    The LP is useful to the extent that it spreads libertarian ideas. To the extent that Johnson helped spread libertarian ideas, that is the extent to which he was successful. It just isn’t about votes when you’re running on the LP ticket.

    And sometimes the most important people are people who didn’t win. There had to be a Barry Goldwater before there could be what came after him.

    I was hoping Ron Paul would be more like a Barry Goldwater figure on a lower scale–if he couldn’t win the nomination himself, maybe could prepare the way for someone like him that could. But Ron Paul isn’t the team player Goldwater was…and you have to compromise if you’re going to represent one of the two parties nationally.

    If Johnson runs again, I hope he runs as a Republican again. And if neither Paul runs next time, Johnson will have a really good shot at New Hampshire in the primaries. …and then, who knows?

    In the meantime, Johnson did a good job getting the libertarian message out. His candidacy made people come up to me and ask me about libertarianism that had never really thought about it before.

    1. If Ron Paul runs in 2016, the Libertarians and Constitutionalists should form a coalition to support him, especially if he runs outside of the GOP.

      1. Didn’t he rule out another run?

        1. There have been a few hints. I highly doubt he will. I think his health will is a strong factor, at this point. If we see miraculous medical advances in the next 3 years, I bet he’d run.

          1. Dude get a knee or back injury after age 40.

            Steroids work…but there is no way in hell doctors will give you steroid treatment. “Take Advil”

            With Obamacare innovation in medicine is only going to slow down more.

      2. Woohoo! If he can bring the Libertarians and Constitutionalists together, he might pull ONE and a HALF percent!

        1. I’d say 2, because it would (slightly) lessen the “throw away your vote” factor. Plus, there were plenty of Paulians who insisted on writing him in.

  11. Better to get 1% of the vote as a libertarian presidential candidate than to be elected an actual Senator as a Republican.

    1. cant tell if serios

      1. The lack of spaces in the handle is suspicious…

    2. Uh, why?

      I always wished that Steve Forbes had made a Senate run in NJ. A few more sane voices in Congress could start a trend.

      1. Still got a Man Crush? on Forbes and would vote for him any day for pretty much any office. Wish he’d run again.

        1. I mean, y’know, if I hadn’t sworn off voting beginning in 2016 and all….

          1. 2014 midterms.

          2. Statements made on HnR are not binding on you, unless you’ve bet someone a fifth of scotch or something.

            Plus, who the fuck is gonna remember four years from now?

  12. I see that some wards in Philly clocked 99% or ore of their vote for Obama.

    You remember Philly, where the Repub election watchers were illegally kicked out for a few hours? Just a coincidence, I’m sure.

    1. Rigged elections only take place in Klan strongholds, like Texas and Mississippi. Democrats are pure and frugal!

    2. How much more than 99%, I wonder.

    3. Y’know, I could honestly see that happening fer reelz in some parts of cities like Philly. I damn sure know it could happen in Detroit.

      Jes sayin’…

    4. This is my explanation for how O’s margin outperformed his polls by 2-4 percent. I’m not that upset by it, as a win by 2 percent is still a win, but it’s a really bad precedent. Both the cheating and the utter lack of coverage by the national media.

    5. RC, when’s the last time you went to Philly? That doesn’t surprise me at all.

    6. I live in Philly, so hearing that 99% of some wards voted for him isn’t surprising.

      Now, if they also had 99% voter turnout…well, demz some shenaniganz.

  13. Have you guys seen the Donderoooooooooo meltdown yet? Holy shit!


    1. DONDEROOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooo!

      He’s right about getting personal with Obama voters.

      They should hear about it.

      1. They should hear about it.

        Those conversations never work.

        They always shrug off the criticisms of Obama with how bad Bush was or Romney’s underpants…

        “We need a balanced budget it is hurting our economy”


        “yeah they are crazy…and probably don’t understand what i am trying to explain to you about how important a balanced budget is”


        “Dude…we were talking about Obama here. He is fucking stuff up. We need to look at out debt-to-GDP ratio it is preventing our economy from recovering.”

        “BUSH’S ECONOMY!!!!”

        By the time you get around making them understand you are not advocating for whatever republican boogyman is in their head the conversation moves on to talking about movies or TV…

        And of course if it ever comes up again they will completely forget again that you are not advocating for republicans.

        Hell you know this…just fallow any argument or discussion anyone in these comments has ever had with Tony.

        Or look at shrike. You think you have gotten through to him…then he gets drunk and start calling you a conservative again.

        1. I’ve only been having those conversation for 3 days, I have the moral high ground and they have to sound like asshole. If anything it confirms my distrust of Democrats.

    2. Only course of action now is to fight back, electoral politics not working

      Pretty sure a butterfly could knock over Donderooooooooooo.

      He may as well be advocating we use his army of robots to take the country over.

  14. This situation of disappointing outcomes that we try to positively spin as reaching a new milestone for the LP–this will recur until voters may cast a vote approving more than one candidate.

    As long as LP members are forced to decide between principles on one side and strategy on the other, we face being chastised (unfairly) by the GOP for being spoilers, and more importantly, we won’t see our actual numbers in the turn-outs because voters are afraid of being spoilers.

    The LP and all third-parties need to make score voting or approval voting the top priority. Otherwise, we’ll continue to fight for 1% scraps.

    The Internet makes score voting feel familiar. We review things using score-voting style ratings all the time–Amazon purchases, Netflix films… It’s second-nature.

    1. The only drawback to this, is that’s how the presidential primaries already work. The nominee isn’t who everyone likes the most, but who everyone dislikes the least. If there isn’t a strong candidate at the start of the process you end up picking everyone’s fifth or sixth choice. It’s how we got McCain and Romney.

      1. That’s how the Dems got John Kerry, too.

    2. But who rates these people in the various categories?

    3. This situation of disappointing outcomes that we try to positively spin as reaching a new milestone for the LP–this will recur until voters may cast a vote approving more than one candidate.

      Nah. Lot of deep Blue or Red states, not even remotely in play, with under 1% LP voters. My home state, the deepest Blue of all, got 0.9% LP votes.

      1. I’d say the vast majority of people here don’t know what libertarianism is, much less the LP.

  15. Got my gay tolerance meter back from the shop. Let’s check that calibration.
    From 1 to 10. From least to most tolerant.

    A 10. Kind of nice to see two human beings enjoy each others company. beutiful even. If they decide to pull on each others peckers and rub them together, well I hope they enjoy every second.…../50149.jpg

    A 1. Nuke this shit from orbit. Its the only way.

    1. Mind slapping an OT on that first?

      1. I thought about that, but then realized the topic was about GayJay, so decided it was close enough.

        PS. Actually, I was posting for the evening links, and had the wrong window open.

    2. I’m not usually a fan of speedos but those nice young men look rather well in them. What a lovely photograph.

      1. I’m glad you found it to be lovely. I waded through thousands of pictures of guys kissing while wearing Speedos to find the absolute right one for the post above. If only I didn’t misplace it in the wrong thread.

  16. Johnson says he thinks Libertarians are making the other parties more libertarian by remaining in the LP.

    I see no evidence of this. It stands against reason.

    Now is the time for us to take the GOP. The establishment ought to be gutted. Our turn.

    Deary Johnson: GET IN THE SENATE.

    1. Maybe it will after the LP throws another swing state election. I wouldn’t bet on it it.

      The LP is, on the other hand, moving “society” in a more libertarian direction.

    2. It doesn’t matter what party affiliation one chooses — what matters is how one votes.

      A vote for Republican Ron Paul is more libertarian than a vote for Bob Barr when he ran LP.

      Vote for the most libertarian person on the ballot, and don’t vote a race at all if no one there is remotely libertarian.

  17. Here’s what I recommend:

    Gary Johnson run from Representative from New Mexico in 2014 as a Libertarian. Get the state GOP to forfeit that seat–it’s probably doable. The Republicans are loosing badly in Districts 1 and 3 anyway.

    This leaves open both the possibility of a Presidential run in 2016 and running for Senate when NM is up again.

    1. NM has a Senate seat up for election in 2014, as it happens. But if he doesn’t want to be a Senator, he doesn’t.

  18. There are two ways for a libertarian candidate to win.

    Plan A: Run in the Republican primaries and get enough votes in a multi-candidate race to eke out the nomination. (It only takes 10 million votes). In the general election, hardcore Republicans will either vote automatically for the label, or stay home, and independents will actually like the alternative.

    Plan B: Get a billionaire candidate (or billionaire-supported Super PAC) and make it clear in about January of the election year that you are going to run a well-funded and well-staffed independent campaign. Try to sound as moderate as possible, to get to 15+ percent in the polls before the debates.

  19. Get into some sort of office and make yourself well known. So you can be Ron Paul in the republican party. Livefree!

  20. WOW! So many lemmings still believing politics can change in this country. It’s over. When America was stuck with two pro-war, pro-surveillance, pro-debt spending candidates, 55% of all eligible voters and 98% of all Americans who voted chose the Purple Oligarchy. A majority of the USA is comfortable with the Purple Oligarchy. You can try to excuse the public and the non voters as much as you want and chalk it up to ignorable or media based apathy, but if people really cared, REALLY FUCKING CARED they would have taken 10-20-30-60 minutes out of their precious lives to see who was on the local ballot or even cast a write in for DONALD fucking DUCK. If the silent plurality really cared there would have been marches and riots over this sham election. The fact is maybe 2-3% of all the USA even gives a damn this country is an oligarchy and that the oligarchy wants more war, more surveillance and more debt spending. The USA is a lost cause for the foreseeable future. Anyone with a sense of mind and the ability to do so needs to migrate out of the major metro areas go to the mountain west and start building a libertarian polity THERE where at least 2-3% of the people want a libertarian polity, the population is less dense and the terrain is more rugged.

  21. Notice how Mr. Quinn finessed the fact that Nader got a lot more votes in 2000 than when he ran for president in 1996.

  22. Now I’m glad I voted for Gary Johnson.

  23. Never met a candidate that I agreed with so much.

    I voted for you Gary Johnson.

    Please, Gary Johnson, do run again.

    Perhaps if the REPUBLICANS would run you instead of a Neo-con (not that Mitt is a Neo-con), or a religious psyco, or Pat Buckanon, We’d have a republican president.

  24. You mean “that didn’t BEAR itself out”, not “bare”. “Bear” as in “load bearing” or able to support something, for chrissakes.

  25. I noticed they stole the frigging Gary Johnson sign from my yard on election day. Bastards. And I’ve been listening to the radio heads’ lamentations. They haven’t learned a frigging thing. I expect them to continue the strategy of running the guy who lost to the guy who lost last time, so expect to see Santorum next time around.

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