Bill Weld

Gary Johnson/William Weld: Can They Win Over Disaffected Republicans, Even in Weld's Home State?

Some, no doubt, but voter misgivings with non-major party choices can be hard to vault.


Part of the theory behind why nominating two former Republican governors for the Libertarian Party presidential ticket was such a no-brainer idea for 2016 was that the Republican Party, theoretic home of a lot of American desire to see a small, affordable, Constitutional government, was about to nominate a maniac who many GOP faithful could not in good conscience support.

The Boston Globe, from the land of L.P. vice presidential pick and former two-term Massachusetts Republican Gov. William Weld, does some reporting today trying to find some truth to that, and finds one former Weld chief of staff and a former state GOP chairwoman willing to go on the record as very glad to have an alternative to voting Donald Trump they can get behind.

Then it deflates the presumption by mentioning that Weld's "political protege" and current Gov. Charlie Baker has not said he'd vote Johnson/Weld, and in fact says he'll be joining the likely near-majority not voting at all in November for president. And while the campaign has not yet provided specifics publicly, they told the Globe that Weld's promised fundraising prowess was, according to the Globe, going well.

Then there was this sad quote, which might well represent many more voters than the quoted:

"I think half the country has problems with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, so a third-party alternative has appeal to them and to me," said Rob Gray, a Republican consultant who once worked for Weld.

But he won't be voting for Weld. He doesn't want to waste his vote and fears that Johnson could serve as a spoiler who helps get Clinton elected.

"I love the guy," he said of Weld. "But ultimately you have to make your choice between the two candidates who have a chance to win."

Actually, collective choices about who to vote for defines who has a chance to win, and the winner would have won whether you vote for them or not. But those truths are hard to sell to American voters.

In another bit of the surprisingly continual major media attention the L.P. ticket continues to earn, The Washington Post this morning gave a semi-comprehensive look at Johnson's issue stances for its readers, after noting two unusual things about Johnson as a Libertarian: his surprisingly high polling so far, and his willingness to shift away from a libertarian hardcore in some of his stances.

Author Max Ehrenfreund highlights Johnson's belief in regulation over tort law as a solution to some environmental harms (though the article later points out Johnson is not currently supporting any specific federal action targeting global warming), and his willingness to use executive authority for some goals.

That latter point is not necessarily a libertarian sin if the goal is to restrict government size and scope, though a respect for the constitutional structure of distinct executive and legislative powers is often called upon by the libertarian and libertarian-leaning, generally as a means of making sure one or the other does not overstep its bounds in a non-libertarian direction.

The rest of the article does a decent job summing him up on the budget, taxation, abortion, criminal justice, and immigration, though foreign policy is ignored entirely here by the Post.