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Is This Gary Johnson's Last Campaign?

The former New Mexico governor brings Reason on the campaign trail and shares insights along the way.

With only days remaining until election day, former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson brought Reason along for an intimate look at his campaign for a U.S. senate seat. Johnson and his supporters traversed New Mexico, attempting to win over voters from the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the north of the state, to the rose-colored dunes of the Chihuahuan desert near the Mexican border. He campaigned at a biker bar in Las Cruces and to members of the Sikh faith in Española.

Not only did the former New Mexico governor grant Reason privileged access to his political life, he also showed a surprising willingness to cast aside rehearsed talking points. From the back seat of his SUV, Johnson spontaneously shared many of his private hopes, fears, ambitions, jokes, as well as insights into his personality.

Running as a Libertarian, Johnson's poll numbers have been as high as the twenties in a three-man race—and as low as 8 percent. Throughout the contest, he has maintained that he's not a protest candidate: winning the senate seat is his only goal.

This campaign could be Johnson's last, as he's pledged to give up politics if he fails to win this race.

Produced, photographed, and edited by Todd Krainin.

Music licenced under Creative Commons: "Tomorrow" by Bensound, "Faster Does It" by Kevin MacLeod

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If Nick had written this article, it would have been titled Is This Gary Johnson's Last Waltz?

  • Just Say'n||

    And there would be red squiggle lines around Gary's head

  • ||

    The Band is still hip, right?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    *runs lyrics through WOPR*

    Sign, sign, everywhere a sign
    Blockin' out the scenery, breakin' my mind
    Do this, don't do that, can't you read the sign?

    *WOPR spits out answer punch card*

    PROBLEMATIC

    No, not hip. Pretty much alt-right and racist.

  • Dan S.||

    That song is not The Band. It's the Five Man Electrical Band, which is a different group entirely. They were pretty much a One Hit Wonder, so they didn't need a Last Waltz.

  • Just Say'n||

    You're on deck, Bill Weld. Make us all embarrassed

  • soldiermedic76||

    One can only hope.

  • rocks||

    Seriously who cares what Johnson does. Other than support weed what libertarian principles does he have?

    It doesn't matter anyway, GEOTUS will win again in 2020 and he will hand pick the 2024 & 2028 (you know since he is GEOTUS). By 2032 America will be fixed.

  • PCGUY||

    Check out Seven Principles of Good Government by Gov. Gary Johnson and you can learn about his libertarianism. I highly recommend it.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Seriously who cares what Johnson does. Other than support weed what libertarian principles does he have?

    He was a pretty effective small(er) government Republican Governor of New Mexico.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    That doesn't require actually being a libertarian, though.

  • JFree||

    No. But it does require an R who is willing to make the difficult L-type decisions that preclude them from ever being able to advance any further in the national R tent. Same with D's in some places.

    L's have to decide whether they want to create an actual political party - to create the infrastructure that makes it possible for already-electable candidates to make those sorts of decisions and then switch parties to still have a future.

    Or whether they want to run evangelical symposia based on some magical fantasy about citizens/voters.

    It's not so much that the latter approach is a guaranteed failure. But the L's have proven they can't make that strategy work so any dream of it working in future is just insanity.

    The only success the L's have had is actually getting on the ballot everywhere. A serious accomplishment since the US is no longer an actual representative democracy or constitutional republic. L's need to take the next steps in the first approach which means knowing what a political party actually does beyond getting on the ballot.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    The one success sort of precludes the next one; That was what I figured out back in the late 90's, that caused me to stop being active in the LP.

    If you think of ballot access as a static obstacle, you might think the LP, having succeeded at it, was poised for further success. But it isn't static, it's a calibrated obstacle, adjusted to make sure the LP is exhausted by the time the real election campaign begins. Like having to run a marathon to reach the starting block of the actual race, when the major parties get to start fresh.

    And if you arrive at the real race not totally exhausted, they add a few laps for you to run next time.

  • FlameCCT||

    Slight correction: He was a pretty effective Republican Governor of NM until he let his Progressivism loose then he became no different than his Progressive Democrat tovarisch!

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Huh, @5:28 he's in Las Cruces and that's Matt Welch in the background. Matt Welch in Las Cruces, NM. Did you leave your wife behind at home on this one, Matt?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    @6:23, mom asking Gary, "Where do you get it?"

    I immediately assumed she was trying to get his weed man's number.

  • Fancylad||

    Next time the party should try nominating a libertarian, even Justin Trudeau can legalize weed, and he's an authoritarian.

  • JeremyR||

    If he honestly thought he was capable of winning the seat, then he's even more delusional than I thought.

    Or naive.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen||

    At the beginning of his race, I predicted he'd finish with 7%. I'm sticking with that.

  • Kivlor||

    He got 9% of the vote in 2016. I'd say that's a pretty strong indicator of what he'll get this round. He may get an additional 1-2% just because it's a state election, and not a federal one.

  • Vince Smith||

    No. He did not even get close to 9% in 2016. Stop lying.

  • Vince Smith||

    He got 3% of the vote.

  • josh||

    I believe he means his share of NM vote, which was, in fact 9.3%.

  • Hank Phillips||

    If Gary keeps calling for a Carbon Tax in violation of the LP platform he can expect to lose. Hillary and her comrades lost for weaponizing Luddite pseudoscience into an attempted tax on everyone except the People's State of China. People like electricity, and need a good reason to want to ban it. A debatable 1ºC temperature rise over the course of the past 100 years ain't good reason. The Republican platform rejects any and all carbon taxes in a manly and straightforward fashion, and our own is against new or added taxes as a general principle. The cake fiasco was embarrassment enough. Let's not alienate voters who use electricity. The Kyoto attempt failed, the Paris attempt failed, the tax is toxic.

  • Kivlor||

    wow, this is one of your more sane posts Hank.

  • AmosArch||

    Not much demand for pro forced cake baking libertarians these days I'm afraid.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    I sure hope so!

  • Widhalm19||

    Let's hope so .... Johnson is a loser.

  • loki||

    Nope. GJ will be like the Rolling Stones having a final tour every other year. Just without the hits.

  • JFree||

    I really like seeing the ground game elements in this video - the door knocking, the calls to voters. That is exactly the ONLY way that L candidates will ever have a chance in an election. And having those ground game elements in place - permanently and not just for the home stretch in elections - is exactly how a political party can build on previous successes rather than starting from scratch each election.

  • Kivlor||

    A smart play would be to organize an infiltration at the local level of D and R parties in the areas where they are the only game in town. Push to win the primaries with not crazy people, and after they win, and get through their first re-election, see if you can openly switch parties, and use the incumbent advantage to try and change the electoral map.

    But this requires a dedication and organization that is very difficult to maintain.

  • JFree||

    No that play has already been tried and failed repeatedly. The LaRouchies did it with the Dems in the 90's and the Paulies did the same with the R's in 2008. Both times the 'infiltration' succeeded until they popped their head above the ground. And then the machine guns blazed and they were killed off or turned into useful party idiots. For both the D's and R's, their local party organizations are a duck decoy. They may look inviting and available and make promising quacks - but they are traps. Those parties are now top-down and while they may let local orgs decay they will NOT under any circumstances let them be taken over by squatters. They built them. They're theirs.

    The best option for libertarians is to copy the structures and organizational practices of the DeRps (available through a bit of surfing - and/or most polisci classes for those still in college) - and create the ground game of their own. So that they don't have to go thru the disheartening machine gun slaughter from their 'new-found friends' and can use that energy to instead build what actually works - locally AND across localities.

  • FlameCCT||

    To do that, one would have to have a party platform that actually appeals to people. I would also suggest that starting with lower level elections, especially in areas where the incumbent has no opposition.

  • Echospinner||

    Demopublicans have run crap elections here in my state.

    Nothing but personal attacks. I could not see 2mm of daylight between them.

    No talking about any issues defining anything.

  • Brett Bellmore||

    Right: Back in Michigan in the 90's we tried something like that: Organized a bunch of Libertarians and pro-gunners to run for precinct delegates in the Republican party, so that we could get a more congenial platform at the Republican convention.

    They were normally uncontested races, so we won a lot of them. Then our delegates showed up at the convention. Their credentials were rejected, the police were called to eject them, and party hacks appointed to take their places.

    The major parties have been fighting dirty against each other for decades, they already have defenses in place for any clever trick you might think up.

  • Vince Smith||

    Hopefully. The guy is a moron and a fake libertarian.

  • jm15xy||

    Mala hierba nunca muere.

  • dchang0||

    Will it be the last time GayJay starts yelling at a random reporter over an innocuous question? I sure hope so. I can't take any more of his cringe-worthy moments.

  • Echospinner||

    Look the guy is good in business. He could have just done that.

    He is the cleanest out there.

    He went libertarian in politics. That can only be a losing proposition in any major election.

    So he will finish a distant third.

    I like him.

  • newlife3.0||

    Me too; thank you for that.
    Yeah, Bill Weld is and was beyond horrible, the gay cake was a mess up,...But Gary is good. So all these motherfuckers constantly bashing him on here anymore...: Then get your asses the fuck out there and run and do better bitches. Nobody's asking you to climb a bunch of major mountains or create a thriving construction company or be a successful two term governor or anything.
    I've been fighting the Libertarian fight since the '70's.
    Stf up and quit dissin' Gary. Put up or shut up.

    I miss the old crew. But the Glib site is a pain in the ass, imo.

  • tlapp||

    He went into this race late. A shame as if he had run hard from the start it would have been very interesting.
    I like him even if he screwed up his presidential run by choosing Weld and then seemingly lost interest the last few months. I believe he had a chance with a good running mate to have approached 4% of the vote. That would at least be enough to sway some races and start getting libertarian ideas a voice.

  • ||

    I'm in NM and I like Gary Johnson. I voted for him every time he's run in the past (including for Governor both times), but I've decided that until we get rid of the first-past-the-post voting system, I'm no longer voting 3rd party. I consider myself anti-leftist so I voted straight Republican (and against all taxes and bonds).

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