Fast Facts

Party afilliation:

Highest office held:
29th Governor of New Mexico

Poll position:
8.4 percent

Notable quote:
“If we want peace, prosperity and freedom in America, it’s up to us to act - with our vote and our voices.”

Gary Johnson

By Kat Tenbarge

October 31, 2016

Where do you go when you’re at the bottom of the polls? South Dakota, obviously. That’s where Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson has been this past week, with stops in Minneapolis, Anchorage and most recently, Cincinnati along the way.

Thank you #Cincinnati for the fantastic turnout last night!

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) October 30, 2016

Spending the penultimate week of this campaign season stumping may just be a last-ditch effort to rile up his supporters, but with 5 percent in the polls, there’s not much hope for the fiscally conservative candidate.

There is some good news for Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld. Regardless of their performance on Nov. 8, they’re hitting an all-time high in states like Georgia, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. While Johnson barely maxed out at 1 percent when he ran for president in 2012, this year he’s topped nine percent in the southern state.

“Six major newspapers have endorsed my campaign,” Johnson said during his Cincinnati rally, as reported on by WCPO Cincinnati. “And if I may summarize in a nutshell, (that’s like saying) these guys might not win, but you know, what they’re saying is honest, they’ve got a proven track record and when you look back on your vote, this is the principled vote.”

October 24, 2016

What do you do when you’re hovering at 6 percent in the polls and find yourself watching the final presidential debates from your couch? If you’re Gary Johnson, you tweet. And then you tweet again. You tweet until you’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome.

Not only did the Libertarian candidate for the presidency allege that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton told “the biggest lie of the debate,” ( she wouldn’t “add a penny” to the debt) he tweeted that his platform was fiscally conservative, socially inclusive, skeptical of military interventions, an advocate of free trade, and honest, transparent and honorable.

Bill Weld and I are the alternative you can be proud of

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) October 20, 2016

Apart from appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live the night of the debate, Johnson had a lot to say on Facebook about how he felt following the majority party candidates’ final clash.

“What did we hear? Obama saved the economy, or Obama killed the economy, but we’ll both keep increasing the debt,” Johnson wrote. “We both say we believe in free trade, but not the policies that will allow it. We will both reform taxes by continuing the tinkering to pick winners and losers. We might change the winners and losers, but we’ll still pick them.”

His anti-partisan rants attracted more than just this reporter’s attention. The Christian Science Monitor published its reasoning on why military voters pick Johnson over Clinton, despite his proposals to cut military spending and his lack of foreign policy knowledge.

“While the support for Johnson seems staggering, military voters aren’t the only ones moving toward the Libertarian,” staff writer Amanda Hoover said. “A Quinnipiac University poll conducted in mid-September found that 29 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 favored the third-party candidate.”

“With each candidate showing a lack of aptitude or character in some realm the military might find valuable, the majority of respondents seemed to make their selections without enthusiasm. Only nine percent felt abundantly confident that Trump could lead the military as commander-in-chief, while four percent said the same of Clinton.”

Millennials, military personnel and more advocated for Johnson this week, including The Tennessean, who praised his business background and commitment to a balanced budget, and Republican Rep. Scott Rigell.

.@RepScottRigell (R-VA) on why Johnson-Weld is the choice for #nevertrump Republicans...

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) October 21, 2016

Johnson isn’t aiming for a spot in the Oval Office. At this point, he just wants to be more than a blip on your timeline.

October 17, 2016

Gary Johnson is known for his eclectic and at times bizarre campaign strategy — from refusing to name a foreign leader he admires to giving a speech on climate change that ends with a sentiment about how the Earth will crash into the sun anyway — but this week’s activity is unique, even for him. The Libertarian candidate led a 70-mile bike ride with his fiancee, and finished with a #FitToBePrez rally on healthy lifestyles.

For someone polling at a current 6 percent, there may not be much else left to do. Johnson failed to be selected for the second televised presidential debates, although he enthusiastically livetweeted his disdain, and without a recent gaffe during an interview to fall back on, he’s had little media coverage in the wake of Donald Trump’s sexual assault allegations.

23 minutes in, and we still have had no serious discussion about #jobs, #debt, or our security. #debate

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) October 10, 2016

“Donald Trump cannot win this election,” Johnson wrote in a press release on his campaign website. “It’s time for Republicans, and all Americans, to face that reality. And it’s time to reject the notion that he is the only option other than Hillary Clinton. Americans deserve better. Women deserve better.”

On “The Rity Cosby Show,” Johnson compared the choice between Clinton and Trump to a heart attack or cancer. He continues to base his platform on the failures of the two mainstream candidates, but Johnson did take the time to film a YouTube video on immigration policy as well.

“When people immigrate to the U.S., they come here primarily to undertake work that others don’t want to do. And work hard. They fight through discrimination. America is a better place because of immigrants,” Johnson said.

And in other news, perhaps it’s a last-ditch attempt at garnering voters, but Johnson is urging his Twitter followers to watch upcoming documentary Rigged 2016, a film about the inadequacy of the two-party system, which features Glenn Beck and Patrick Byrne. Rigged or not, Johnson is probably wishing he had his own set of ropes,because the polls show he’s in between a rock and a hard place.

October 10, 2016

Gary Johnson sat on the sidelines during the second televised presidential debate, but he refused to do so silently.

“It’s a rigged game,” Johnson said Saturday during a rally at the University of New Mexico. “I agree 100 percent with Hillary Clinton’s number one issue in this campaign. I agree 100 percent with Donald Trump’s number one issue in this campaign — don’t vote for Clinton and don’t vote for Trump.”

The Libertarian Party’s candidate for president is holding out at 6.5 percent in the polls, according to RealClearPolitics. But Johnson isn’t aiming for a total takeover. He just wants to win one state, be it New Mexico, where he stands at 24 percent, or Alaska, Colorado or Utah, where he faces similar chances.

In the event that neither former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump receive 270 electoral votes, which is what Johnson is getting at, the decision goes to the House of Representatives. As the Richmond Times-Dispatch published in an editorial Saturday, the two-time governor of New Mexico has the qualifications for the highest office and comes without any of the integrity accusations Clinton carries.

But with scandal after scandal, the sand in Johnson’s hourglass is running low. One such medium blip suggested that his running mate, Gov. Bill Weld, L-Massachusetts, would be abandoning the libertarian platform in favor for defeating Trump.

I am IN with @GovGaryJohnson all the way. Join US. #JohnsonWeld

— Gov. Bill Weld (@GovBillWeld) October 6, 2016

Weld quickly backtracked, saying later that day to another outlet that he planned to focus on Trump’s “grave threat” to international security and military policies. Johnson, meanwhile, branded himself as a skeptic during a speech at the University of Chicago.

“As president, I would not need to be talked out of dropping bombs and sending young men and women into harm’s way. I would be the president who would have to be convinced it is absolutely necessary to protect the American people or clear U.S. interests,” Johnson wrote in an editorial published on National Interest.

At the same time, Johnson swiveled his statements to target Republican voters. In two separate Facebook posts, he denounced Trump’s controversial comments about “grabbing (women) by the p---y.” Advocating for women and traditional conservative values, Johnson asked that Republicans “pledge to present voters with a real alternative to what has become an embarrassing side show.”

In that vein, billboards declaring “Not Trump,” accompanied by Johnson and Weld’s profiles, will be appearing in 19 states this upcoming week.

“Honk when you see this billboard,” Johnson tweeted.

At this point in the election, blaring cars may be the Libertarian Party’s last line of defense.

October 4, 2016

Gary Johnson endured another attack from the press this past week when he couldn’t name a single foreign leader he admires. Whether it was a standoffish remark or a memory failure, the Libertarian Party candidate for president received a lot of hate on social media.

It's been almost 24 hours...and I still can't come up with a foreign leader I look up to.

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) September 29, 2016

Positive feedback emerged as well in the form of endorsements from The Detroit News and The Chicago Tribune. Since its founding in 1873, The Detroit News has never endorsed anyone but a Republican candidate, so the Johnson approval is particularly newsworthy.

“We recognize the Libertarian candidate is the longest of long shots with an electorate that has been conditioned to believe only Republicans and Democrats can win major offices,” the editorial board said. “But this is an endorsement of conscience, reflecting our confidence that Johnson would be a competent and capable president and an honorable one.”

The Chicago Tribune, on the other hand, acknowledged that Hillary Clinton is undeniably qualified to be the president but still chose to endorse Johnson.

“Theirs is small-L libertarianism, built on individual freedom and convinced that, at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue, official Washington is clumsy, expensive and demonstrably unable to solve this nation’s problems. They speak of reunifying an America now balkanized into identity and economic groups — and of avoiding their opponents’ bullying behavior and sanctimonious lectures,” the editorial board said.

Johnson himself echoed those statements in an editorial published in The New York Times, in which he accentuated his stance on cutting government spending, protecting civil liberties and expanding free trade while limiting military involvement.

And the staunch isolationist has another interesting qualification on which NPR elaborated: With 17 marathons, summiting Mount Everest with a broken leg and sobriety since 1987 under his belt, Johnson is the most physically fit candidate for the presidency.

Perhaps due to a combination of the above, famed political predictor Nate Silver updated his blog with a tantalizing possibility: If Johnson wins New Mexico, it could result in an electorate deadlock that would send the final tally to the House of Representatives. It’s an unlikely scenario but so was Donald Trump winning the Republican nomination. In what has been an absolutely wild race to the White House, anything is possible.

Johnson continues his campaign with stops in University of Colorado and Atlanta this upcoming week.

September 26, 2016

By Libby Chidlow

The first presidential debate today will be between not four candidates but two, striking a nerve in former Gov. Gary Johnson’s followers who have gathered on social media with the hashtag #LetGaryDebate.

62% of Americans want to see me on the debate stage. #letgarydebate #YouIn? #TeamGov

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) September 13, 2016

However, this debate threshold dilemma has not been a complete setback for the Johnson campaign. Johnson recently discussed climate change with ABC News on “This Week.”

“We do have to inhabit other planets. The future of the human race is space exploration,” Johnson said.

The candidate said his previous comment, made in 2011, about the sun encompassing Earth was simply a joke.

September 19, 2016

Over the past weeks, Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson rose in the polls all the way to 13 percent nationally, according to Quinnipiac. But it wasn’t enough: he won’t be included in the first televised presidential debates.

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times, Johnson’s campaign manager Ron Nielson argues that since Johnson broke the 15 percent barrier in 15 states, he should be eligible to debate.

“I would say I am surprised that the CPD has chosen to exclude me from the first debate, but I’m not,” Johnson said in a Twitter statement. “After all, the Commission is a private organization created 30 years ago by the Republican and Democratic parties for the clear purpose of taking control of the only nationally-televised presidential debates voters will see.”

The Democratic party, and specifically Hillary Clinton, could potentially be threatened by Johnson’s campaign. According to a Fox News infographic, he currently holds 29 percent of the millennial vote, as opposed to Clinton’s 31 percent.

Millenial vote - voters ages 18-34.

— Fox News (@FoxNews) September 17, 2016

His stance on Black Lives Matter and racism against immigrants may appeal to the younger generation, as demonstrated by his presentation to the Detroit Economic Club, where he additionally advocated for lower taxes and less government regulations.

“Detroit has the biggest opportunity in the country if they were to embrace genuine… free-market. Create a tax-free economic zone,” Johnson said, as reported by The Detroit Free Press.

Johnson also has a hold over Donald Trump, at least in terms of newspaper endorsements. The Winston-Salem Journal endorsed the Libertarian candidate this week, bringing his total to two, while Trump sits at exactly zero, as of publication.

“This Westerner’s strong, common-sense record of being fiscally conservative and socially progressive matches our editorial board’s emphasis, as well as his concentration on small government, and, best of all, freedom,” said the editorial board of the Journal. “We suspect his stances mirror that of many other Americans.”

At a Seattle appearance Saturday, Johnson laid out the theme of his campaign in a unique, succinct way.

.@GovGaryJohnson mobbed by activists after #JohnsonWeld2016 rally in Seattle #LetGaryDebate

— Matt Kibbe (@mkibbe) September 18, 2016

“Keep the government out of my bedroom, keep the government out of my wallet,” Johnson said, as reported by Seattle PI. His witty humor evidently appeals to the masses, as Johnson hit 70,000 followers on Instagram this week.

More digital plans for the libertarian campaign include a feature-length film directed by founder Patrick Byrne and anti-Michael Moore filmmaker Jeff Hays. “Rigged 2014” will allegedly “introduce the masses” to Johnson and disparage the Republican and Democratic parties.

A “60 Minutes” feature will go in-depth into the Johnson-Weld ticket, as Steve Kroft interviews them for CBS Sunday. This will be Johnson’s next major appearance.

September 12, 2016

It was the gaffe heard ‘round the world — what is Aleppo? For Gary Johnson, it was an embarrassing mistake.

While making an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” the libertarian nominee was asked a question about the Syrian refugee crisis and responded with an honest question that revealed his ignorance on Middle Eastern geography.

“This morning, I began my day by setting aside any doubt that I’m human,” Johnson said in a statement he released on Twitter. “Can I name every city in Syria? No. Should I have identified Aleppo? Yes. Do I understand its significance? Yes.”

So, how badly did the mistake hurt his chances? RealClearPolitics reports his standing at 9.3 percent, a 1.1 percent jump from last week’s 8.2 percent. Quinnipiac University’s in-depth swing state polling shows that Johnson is up to 14 percent in the quintessential swing state, Ohio.

Meanwhile, Johnson recently appointed Juan Hernandez to be his head of Hispanic outreach. Hernandez appeared on “Al Punto,” a Spanish talk show, Sunday morning to vouch for the libertarian presidential candidate.

Tomorrow Lionel Sosa and I will be on #AlPunto with Jorge Ramos supporting 3rd Presidential Candidate, #GaryJohnson!

— Juan Hernandez (@HernandezJuan) September 10, 2016

It was “a grave mistake” for Mexico’s current president, Enrique Pena Nieto, to invite Donald Trump to visit the country, Hernandez said on-air.

Other good news for Johnson this week included surpassing the “money bomb” goal of $1 million. At this point, he’s at $1,010,334 and counting rapidly. Plus, his Reddit AMA racked up a successful 3,241 points, which is more than Donald Trump.

“You may disagree with everything I have to say, but you’ll see it done in complete transparency and honesty,” Johnson said, in response to a question about whether a third party vote is a waste.

Upcoming events include speaking at Purdue University Tuesday, addressing the Detroit Economic Club Wednesday and holding a Seattle rally Saturday.

September 5, 2016

What do Cornell University College Republicans, the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Larry the Cable Guy all have in common? As of this week, they all endorsed Gary Johnson for president.

The Cornell Republicans called this election season unprecedented, stating they could not endorse Donald Trump, who is not “a true conservative.” Johnson, they argued, has been successful in governing a blue state and has demonstrated fidelity to limited government, low taxes, a balanced budget and public accountability.

A prominent Virginia paper, the Times-Dispatch broke its partisan leanings with an editorial that praised Johnson. For the past 36 years, the editors have endorsed Republican candidates. This year, the editorial called for Johnson to appear in the televised presidential debates, but he has yet to reach 15 percent in the polls.

While RealClearPolitics shows Johnson hovering around 8.2 percent in the polls, his website tally reads 10.2 percent. His campaign is planning another “money bomb” on Sept. 10 to pull in $50,000, which will be accompanied by a livestreamed New York City rally.


— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) September 4, 2016

In terms of visibility, the Army Times, Marine Corps Times, Navy Times and Air Force Times all ran an interview with Johnson on their respective front pages, thanks to Senior Editor Andrew deGrandpre.

Thirty-nine percent of committed Johnson voters are military personnel and their families, which he credits to his “not isolationist, but non-interventionist” foreign policy. In his interview with the Military Times, he reiterated that he believes intervention in Syria will create a void that will eventually be replaced by another terrorist organization.

“I’m under the belief that if we don’t get our fiscal house in order, we’re not going to have a strong government or a strong military moving forward, keeping in mind we’re spending as much on our military as the rest of the world combined,” Johnson said. “The ramifications of that in Europe is that Europe has not picked up its fair share of this.”

Reddit will host an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on Sept. 6 at 9 p.m. EST for Johnson and his running mate, Gov. Bill Weld, L-Massachusetts. In other social media news, Balanced Rebellion, a website funded by AlternativePAC, has a video praising Johnson that has racked up over 16 million views so far on Facebook.

The accompanying app lets committed Johnson voters match with somebody from the other side of the political spectrum, so that their votes don’t contribute to Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton’s chances.

Purple PAC, which supports libertarian candidates, has commenced its $1 million advertising effort to get Johnson to 15 percent in the polls, which means cable viewers will start seeing Johnson segments while channel-surfing.

As Larry the Cable Guy said on Fox & Friends, “I’m a Trump man, and when I say Trump man, I mean Gary Johnson.”

August 29, 2016

Ohioans will spot a third option on their voting ballots this November as Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Wednesday that Gary Johnson’s supporters met the signature requirement. The Libertarian Party is not recognized in the swing state, so independent voters have to campaign for third party candidates.

Sixty-two percent of respondents think Gary Johnson “should be included in the presidential debates this year,” according to a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University. In order to appear, Johnson has to reach the 15 percent threshold in five national polls. He currently sits at 9 percent but has hit 15 percent in states such as Colorado.

Meanwhile, a Fox News poll shows Johnson rapidly gaining traction with Hispanic voters, effectively tied with Donald Trump at 16 and 17 percent, respectively.

He has appeared on Fox News twice in the past week, once on Tuesday for a round table discussion on The Five, where he said the U.S. needed an “invincible national defense” but defended his opinion against a strong offensive military and for a diplomatic alliance with Russia.

He also reaffirmed his support for Black Lives Matter, saying that “when it comes to whites, we’re not being shot at six times the rate blacks are being shot at” and addressing his concerns of systematic racism through the war on drugs.

Johnson then appeared in a Libertarian Town Hall with running mate Bill Weld, hosted by Fox News, on Friday. The former governor of New Mexico is pursuing the opportunity to win a spot in the presidential debates with an intensive schedule of cross-country tour stops.

August 23, 2016

Former two-term Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico has been the libertarian nominee for the presidency since 2012. In his first nationwide presidential election, he won 0.99 percent of the votes — more than all the other minor-party candidates combined — and had the highest turnout ever for a libertarian candidate.

In January 2016, Johnson announced his second candidacy for the Libertarian Party, and in May selected former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld as his running mate. As controversy over Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton continues to divide the major political parties, the Johnson/Weld ticket has evolved into a viable choice for many voters this fall. With the two-party system teetering over the edge, Johnson said, “This (election) is a two party dinosaur, and we think we’re going to be the comet in this equation.”


Johnson was born Jan. 26, 1953, in Minot, North Dakota. He attended the University of New Mexico and graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science in political science. There, he met his wife Denise “Dee” Simms and worked door-to-door as a handyman.

He started his own mechanical contracting business, Big J Enterprises, in 1976. After receiving a large contract from Intel in 1998, the company’s revenue increased to $38 million. Upon selling the business in 1999, it was one of New Mexico’s leading construction companies.

Johnson entered politics by running for governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a fiscally conservative, low-tax and anti-crime platform. After winning the nomination from New Mexico’s Republican Party, he went on to defeat the incumbent Democrat. In office, he set records for his use of veto and line-item veto powers. Johnson also lowered state spending while raising education spending, cutting the gas tax and reducing the 10 percent growth of the state budget.

He successfully sought re-election in 1998 and used his second term to focus on the issue of school vouchers, campaigning for marijuana decriminalization and legalization and opposition to the War on Drugs.


In 2011, Johnson announced his candidacy for president of the United States. He ran initially with the Republican Party, but in December declared his candidacy for the Libertarian Party and  endorsed then U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas in the Republican race. Johnson’s goal for the 2012 election was to win 5 percent of the vote so the Libertarian Party could obtain equal ballot access and federal funding during the next election cycle, obstacles many third parties face. Johnson ended up winning 1.3 million votes, or 1 percent of the popular vote. Despite falling short of his goal, Johnson stated that “ours is a mission accomplished.”

Since his 2012 presidential campaign, Johnson has created the Our America Initiative PAC to support libertarian-minded causes and end “business-as-usual” politics. He also became CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a Nevada-based company that aims to sell medical marijuana products. He resigned to pursue a 2016 presidential candidacy.

Presidential Platform

Johnson’s views have been described as financially conservative and socially liberal with a philosophy of limited government and military non-interventionism. He favors simplifying and reducing taxes, shown by his track record of reducing taxes 14 times and never raising them as governor. He has advocated for the Fair Tax and supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

He has said he supports balancing the federal budget immediately and slashing government spending. Disgusted with the current state of the national debt, Johnson said, “By the time Barack Obama leaves office, the national debt will be $20 trillion. That is not just obscene, it is unsustainable. Responsibility for the years of deficit spending that have created our debt crisis rests squarely with both the Republicans and the Democrats.”

In his campaign for the Libertarian Party nomination, he opposed foreign wars and pledged to cut military spending. Johnson has stated he does not believe Iran is a threat and will not follow Israel or any other ally into war.

Johnson is also said to be a strong supporter of civil liberties and has the highest rating of any candidate by the American Civil Liberties Union for his support of drug decriminalization, opposing censorship of the internet and decrying indefinite detention of prisoners. He has spoken in favor of the separation of church and state, endorsed same-sex marriage and is a long-time supporter of marijuana legalization. Johnson also opposes gun control.

In terms of abortion, Johnson has advocated for a woman’s right to choose, saying “I’ve supported counseling and I’ve supported the notion that public funds not be used for abortion. But I don’t for a second want to pretend that I have a better idea of how a woman should choose when it comes to this situation. Fundamentally this is a choice that women should have.”

Neither party represents the majority of the Americans who are fiscally responsible & socially tolerant via @usnews

— Gov. Gary Johnson (@GovGaryJohnson) July 31, 2016

National Recognition

With the 2016 election cycle well underway, Johnson’s primary goal is to reach 15 percent in the polls. During the #15for15 campaign, over 90,000 donors with an average of $32 per donation contributed $2.9 million online on Aug. 15 and the days leading up to it. With 15 percentage points, Johnson would be eligible to participate in the general-election presidential debates, a critical necessity for a presidential contender.

“The fact that we received more than 90,000 individual small contributions is overwhelming, and a major boost for the campaign,” Johnson said.

At the time of publication, Johnson has conducted two CNN town hall specials, which highlighted his eagerness to be a divisive force in the 2016 election cycle, his aversion to gun control and broad drug legalization, and the role of vice presidential nominee Weld as an attack dog against Trump and Clinton.

With Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., announcing his vote for Johnson, this first Congressional backer is an indicator that the Libertarian Party will have an impactful year with a legitimate contender.