Breaking through an invisible barrier for Libertarian presidential candidates, Gov. Gary Johnson in 2016 won the party its first-ever endorsement from a newspaper of record.
But this wasn’t just one editorial board flouting tradition. Across the country, nine major newspapers endorsed 2016’s arguably most qualified ticket of Libertarian Govs. Johnson and William Weld — more than wound up endorsing Donald J. Trump, now president-elect.
In addition to the Richmond Times-Dispatch and the Winston–Salem Journal, which LP News reported in an earlier issue, the Caledonian-Record (N.H./Vt.), Chicago Tribune, Daily Sun News (Wash.), the Danville Register & Bee (Va.), the Detroit News, New Hampshire Union-Leader, and the Post and Courier (Charleston, S.C.) endorsed either Johnson or the Libertarian ticket, with vice-presidential candidate William Weld.
The Chicago Tribune’s Sept. 30 endorsement of the Johnson–Weld ticket cited Democrat Hillary Clinton’s “intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust,” and concluded that Republican Donald Trump “has neither the character nor the prudent disposition for the job.”
In setting out their argument for Johnson–Weld, they wrote, “Libertarians Gary Johnson of New Mexico and running mate William Weld of Massachusetts are agile, practical and, unlike the major-party candidates, experienced at managing governments. They offer an agenda that appeals not only to the Tribune’s principles but to those of the many Americans who say they are socially tolerant but fiscally responsible.”
Addressing the “wasted vote” argument, they wrote, “We offer this endorsement to encourage voters who want to feel comfortable with their choice. Who want to vote for someone they can admire.” Of Johnson: “Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles — and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016.”
The New Hampshire Union–Leader printed a letter by one of their retired editors, who wrote, “This 2016 election is a disaster no matter who wins the presidency. If America is to do better in 2020, the fight starts now. A vote for Johnson is not merely a protest against two unworthy candidates, it’s a statement of opposition to the corrupt and failed two-party system that nominated them.”
The first major American newspaper to endorse Donald Trump, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, didn’t do so until Oct. 24, and by then, Reason, Mother Jones, the Hill, and others were keeping score, noting that Gary Johnson had, from the start, more high-profile newspaper endorsements than had Trump.
Trump scored another three “reluctant” and “in spite of all his faults” endorsements at the last minute on Nov. 6, to finally approximate the number of endorsements given with more enthusiasm to the Libertarians.
Several of the newspapers continued to justify their endorsements in subsequent editorials through Election Day, with the Richmond Times-Dispatch doing so four times.
Mark Miller, running for Texas Railroad Commission (the agency which oversees oil and gas) was endorsed by, among others, the top four newspapers in Texas, including the Houston Chronicle, Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express-News, Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and Fort Worth’s Star-Telegram.
The Corpus Christi Caller-Times wrote, “Mark Miller’s candidacy for a seat on the Texas Railroad Commission is a prime example why voters should never pull the lever just for their preferred political party.”
Miller’s endorsements may well have brought in enough extra votes to secure ballot access through 2018 for the Texas LP. He needed five percent of the vote, and ended with 5.3 percent.
Michelle Darnell’s campaign for the Washington State House of Representatives, 48th District, was endorsed by the Republican candidate for governor, Bill Bryant; the GOP candidate for Lt. Governor, Marty McClendon; a former state supreme court justice; and several other candidates and officials. Citizen’s Alliance for Property Rights rated her “outstanding,” and Gun Owners Action League of Washington gave her their endorsement.
Magician and comedian Penn Jillette “tweeted” his Libertarian endorsement to his fans: “Thomas Simmons for US Congress – Hey my hometown of Greenfield, MA — there’s a groovy libertarian running for ya!”, followed by Simmons’s campaign web address. It was retweeted 45 times. Simmons also earned a 100% rating by Gun Owners Action League and an “A” rating from Gun Owners of America.
John Buckley, candidate for West Virginia Secretary of State, was endorsed by the Charleston Gazette-Mail, the daily newspaper of the largest city in West Virginia, citing his experience and ideas for improving elections. The paper saw an advantage to his party affiliation, saying, “As a third-party candidate, he would take the job seriously and not allow politics to influence his decisions.”
Jared Grifoni was endorsed by the Naples Daily News in his successful bid for Marco Island City Council (see article, p. 4).
Jessica Pallett earned the support of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Texas in her run for Texas State House, Dist. 94.
Paotie Dawson, candidate for Colorado House of Representatives, District 18, was endorsed by the only independent newspaper in town, the Manitou Marquee.
Dan Hogan, campaigning for U.S. House, Missouri, 3rd district, was endorsed by the Transportation Division of the SMART union (the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers).
Glenn Gustitus, running for Missouri State House, District 12, was endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice Missouri, Advocates of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, and Planned Parenthood Votes Great Plains.
Martin Moulton, candidate for U.S. Delegate for the District of Columbia, secured the endorsement of Dick Heller, successful plaintiff in the landmark case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution protects an individual’s right to possess a firearm for self-defense within the home.
Cara Schulz, running for Burnsville City Council in Minnesota, was endorsed by Blue Republicans (moderate Democrats and Republicans), and by Women Winning, an organization which promotes pro-choice, feminist candidates.
Rob Lapham, running for election to U.S. House in Florida’s 2nd District, was named a “ ‘Champion of Champions’ for American Veterans” by the Center for American Homeless Veterans (CAHV), headquartered in Falls Church, Va.
CAHV’s president, retired USAR Maj. Brian Hampton, wrote, “In 20 years of making endorsements for federal office, rarely has the Center for American Homeless Veterans found such a decisive and compelling case for the endorsement of a federal candidate. CAHV gives its absolute and emphatic endorsement to Rob Lapham to be elected to the Congress.”