Former two-term New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who ran for president twice as the Libertarian Party’s nominee, has ended the suspense over whether he would run for Senate from New Mexico. On Aug. 14, Johnson tweeted a video produced by the Elect Liberty PAC, “You Know Gary Johnson.”
In short, he’s running.
In recent days, Johnson has received numerous invitations to appear on national media to discuss his Senate bid. He’s giving New Mexico media the first shot with a press availability on Thursday, Aug. 16, in Albuquerque at 10:30 a.m. Mountain Time.
Johnson, who received the Libertarian Party’s nomination for president in both 2012 and 2016, received the party’s largest presidential vote total ever in the most recent election — nearly 4.5 million votes. In New Mexico, where he was elected to two consecutive terms as governor before being term-limited out in 2003, Johnson received nearly 10 percent of the state’s 2016 presidential vote. New Mexico Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, who was originally nominated for the 2018 Senate run by New Mexico Libertarians, recently stepped aside to focus on the duties of his current office. This opened the way for Johnson’s run.
Prior to Johnson’s candidacy, the Cook Political Report rated the New Mexico Senate race as “Solid Democrat,” favoring incumbent Martin Heinrich to win. The Republican challenger, Albuquerque construction contractor Mick Rich, is a newcomer with little political experience. Johnson, on the other hand, has a long and venerable political track record in his home state.
“Here’s a guy who vetoed close to 900 bills and simply would not accept any increase in the size and scope of government,” said Republican strategist and former New Mexico State Sen. Rod Adair. “That seems to be right in the wheelhouse of measurable disgust with both the left and the right. He may be the perfect third-party option right now.” Adair suggested Johnson could likely attract the votes of conservative Latino Democrats, as well as a large percentage of Republicans — not to mention the 22 percent of New Mexico voters who identify as independents.
The New Mexico Senate race is now wide open, and Democrats are running scared. Heinrich has already made a plea for more campaign donations to fend off the Johnson challenge. The progressive advocacy group ProgressNow New Mexico has published a snarky attack piece titled “10 Reasons Why Gary Johnson is Wrong for New Mexico.”
New Mexico voters, though, remember Johnson’s track record as their two-term governor. GQ magazine describes him as “absurdly honest and smart.” The theme of Johnson’s new campaign video is that he’s “fiscally conservative and socially cool.” Most Democratic and Republican politicians are neither.
This year, voters in New Mexico and throughout the nation will have hundreds of good Libertarians to vote for, which beats voting for the lesser of two evils. The lesser of two evils is still evil.