Gary Johnson Stays Active in Politics but not in Office

Photo by Viridiana Vasquez / NM News Port

 

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson may have fallen shy of securing 5 percent of the national vote, but he believes that he had a successful presidential race.

Johnson acquired 4 million votes, which is 3 percent of the national total. He did much better in his home state of New Mexico, where he accumulated 9.3 percent of the presidential vote.

Nationally, Johnson won the highest vote percentage of any Libertarian Party candidate and he received the most votes by a third party candidate since 1996.

Even though Johnson is done campaigning for the Libertarian Party, he says he hopes to stay involved in politics and further improve the public’s view of the Libertarian party.

“I really do think it’s been a pretty good run,” Johnson said. “I’ll leave it to others, hopefully stay active politically but not as a candidate.”

Johnson supporters say they still see a bright future for him as they hope he continues in his political drive.

“He has experience, he knows what happens between our borders on both sides and he just really has a good plan for solving our financial debt and that’s a huge deal,” said Kate Willard, who was an active Johnson supporter in this election.

Johnson ran for president twice and showed significant progress from 2012 to 2016, almost tripling his votes.

Johnson’s supporters are aware he is not running in a presidential race again, but still hope he will run in the 2020 presidential election as the Libertarian party candidate.

“He’s certainly still young and I know this is his second time so I’ve watched people try three times so maybe next time the third time’s the charm,” said Bob West, a Johnson supporter for the past two elections.

Although Johnson has publically stated he will no longer run for the presidency, Libertarian advocates say they see no better candidate than him.

“He’s young, vibrant, fit, healthy and stronger than ever and I think he really gained a lot of support in this election so if we didn’t get this one we will get the next one,” Willard said.

Some Democrats were not so thrilled with Johnson’s accomplishments. They say those votes could have been used to Hillary Clinton’s advantage.

“Johnson was just a waste of votes, all his votes went to waste, he didn’t even accomplish the 5 percent for the Libertarian party.” said Angel Soto, who voted Democrat.

But Johnson supporters say they do not view it as throwing away their votes but as a change for the better.

“People are going to look at the Libertarian Party and think that we threw away our votes to the ‘Democratic Party’ or to the ‘Republican Party’ but we didn’t, it was not a vote for either one it was a vote for the right thing,” said Kevin Mantilla, one of Johnson’s supporters.

Gabriel Sanchez, a political science professor at the University of New Mexico (UNM) says third party candidates were important in this election.  Sanchez said Jill Stein and Johnson received a significant percentage of the votes largely due to the lack of favorability for both Clinton and Trump across the electorate.

“Trump’s margin of victory across several key battleground states was smaller than the amount of votes that went to third party candidates,” Sanchez said. “Many have suggested that these candidates cost Clinton the election.”

Even if there is no clear impact seen nationwide because of third party voting, there was an impact seen in different states such as New Mexico.

“Here in New Mexico Gary Johnson had his best showing with approximately 9 percent  of the statewide vote,” Sanchez said. “Given that this was larger than the 8 percent gap between Clinton and Trump it seems possible that he impacted the outcome for the state.”

While some voters are still trying to cope with the election results, Johnson has other plans that do not involve politics for the time being.

Johnson says he is focusing on his next adventure involving bicycling almost 3,000 miles from Canada to New Mexico, along the Continental Divide.

“I’m skiing 100 days this season for starters,” Johnson said. “I’m riding the divide next summer and I’m going scuba diving in Aruba with my wife.”

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