In a recent article in the National Journal, Gary Johnson may be considering another run for president in 2016. As was the case in 2012, the former New Mexico governor suggests he may run under the banner of the Libertarian Party. As he puts it, “I would love running as a Libertarian because I would have the least amount of explaining to do.”
Certainly some liberty-minded Republicans wish that Gary Johnson would return to the Republican fold. After all, he was elected as a Republican in New Mexico.
However, any memory of the 2012 Republican presidential primaries would make such a switch highly unlikely. For those who do not recall, Johnson first began his presidential run as a Republican in 2011. Despite being a fairly important former elected official and offering a memorable quip that several dogs created more “shovel ready” jobs than President Obama, he was only allowed to participate in two debates. In a party and media fueled catch-22, his poll numbers were low because he didn’t get much coverage. And as he didn’t get much coverage, his poll numbers could not improve.
In addition, former Governor Johnson has some philosophical differences too. Although marking himself as a strong fiscal conservative during his time in elected office, Gary Johnson holds a number of social views which put him at odds with the religious right wing of the Republican Party.
Now there are some Republican politicians who have used the Libertarian Party as a resting point before returning to the GOP. For example, 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate Bob Barr has since rejoined the Republican Party. Then again, I thought Barr a rather curious choice for the LP. Although I didn’t consider myself libertarian in 2008, given his previous support of the Patriot Act and the War in Iraq, I thought that I was more libertarian than Mr. Barr.
On the other hand, the Republican Party is still searching for an identity and unfortunately there is a sizable contingent of the leadership that is openly hostile to libertarians and conservatives.
So, it should be interesting to see when and if Gary Johnson kicks off his presidential campaign. I assume that if he runs as a Libertarian again, it should increase public understanding and membership in the LP.