Gov. Gary Johnson is the 2018 Libertarian Party candidate for U.S. Senate in New Mexico, where he previously served two terms as governor. Johnson was also the Libertarian Party candidate for president in 2012 and 2016.
Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) has endorsed Libertarian Gov. Gary Johnson for the U.S. Senate in New Mexico, despite the presence of a Republican nominee in the race. The endorsement has prompted news coverage at such media outlets as Associated Press, Reason magazine, and the Washington Examiner.
From Reason’s Hit & Run blog on Tuesday, Aug. 28 (“Huge News: Rand Paul Endorses Gary Johnson for Senate,” by Matt Welch):
In a surprising move that could have dramatic impact on third-party politics and Capitol Hill’s balance of power, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) today endorsed Libertarian Gary Johnson for the U.S. Senate over Republican nominee Mick Rich.
“Gary Johnson is a true fiscal conservative,” Paul said in his endorsement statement. “As Governor, he reduced the size of government while improving services. He cut taxes, and he set what may be a record by vetoing more than 700 unnecessary pieces of legislation.
“His leadership on issues of government overreach, protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against mass surveillance, and common sense foreign policy is sorely needed in the United States Senate, for New Mexico and the nation.
“He will be an important ally and a critical independent voice.”
Paul’s endorsement is sure to add pressure on Mick Rich to step aside and give Johnson, the two-term former governor of the state, a clear shot at challenging what until now has been considered a safe Democratic seat. In the only poll taken since Johnson officially entered the race two weeks ago, the Libertarian was up on the Republican 21 percent to 11 percent (versus Martin Heinrich’s 39), and even held a slight edge among registered Republicans.
From the Associated Press’s Aug. 28 article, “Sen. Rand Paul Backs Libertarian Candidate in New Mexico,” by Morgan Lee (as published in U.S. News & World Report):
Former New Mexico governor and current Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson picked up the endorsement of Republican Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Tuesday in his effort to unseat an incumbent Democrat.
Paul shunned Republican nominee Mick Rich, an Albuquerque construction contractor and newcomer to politics, in favor of Johnson, who was elected governor of New Mexico twice as a Republican before running for president in 2012 and 2016 on the Libertarian ticket.
Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of Albuquerque is seeking a second term in the November election.
Johnson and Paul share an enthusiasm for extremely limited government. In a news release, Paul praised Johnson as a “true fiscal conservative” and for his dedication to reducing the size of government and improving services as governor of New Mexico.
“His leadership on issues of government overreach, protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against mass surveillance, and common sense foreign policy is sorely needed,” Paul said in the statement.
Johnson backers are pressuring Rich to drop out of the race in the interest of ousting Heinrich. Tuesday was the final day for candidates in New Mexico to withdraw their names from the general election ballot.
[Rich] won’t drop out, said his campaign spokesman, Nathan James.
Rich seized on the endorsement from Paul to highlight Johnson’s support for recreational marijuana and to voice concern about hardline fiscal conservatism.
“New Mexico needs a senator who doesn’t work to shut down the government, but who uses federal resources to help the people of New Mexico,” Rich said in a statement.
Paul has waged a lengthy battle against federal deficit spending — triggering a brief government shutdown in February by holding up a spending bill vote from the Senate floor.
From the Washington Examiner’s news coverage by Katelyn Carelle, “Rand Paul endorses Libertarian Gary Johnson in New Mexico Senate race” (Aug. 28):
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., a self-described libertarian, endorsed on Tuesday libertarian former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson in his Senate bid instead of his Republican competitor Mick Rich.
Paul said in a news release that he was putting his weight behind his fellow libertarian a day before candidates are able to withdraw their names from the general election ballot, the Associated Press reports.
Johnson, who failed in his 2016 third-party presidential campaign, shares ideals with Paul of limited government, and Paul said Johnson was a “true fiscal conservative.” Johnson served as governor as a member of the Republican Party.
“His leadership on issues of government overreach, protecting Americans’ Fourth Amendment rights against mass surveillance, and common sense foreign policy is sorely needed,” Paul said in his Tuesday statement.
Those who support Johnson have been pressuring Rich to drop out of the race against Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich, and a poll conducted through Emerson College showed Johnson leading Rich among Republicans.
Paul was a Republican primary candidate for a presidential bid in 2016.
From Washington Examiner columnist Jack Hunter, “Rand Paul endorses Gary Johnson, puts principles over party” (Aug. 29):
When Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., announced Tuesday that he would be supporting Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson in the New Mexico U.S. Senate race over Republican candidate Mick Rich, many were surprised Paul broke party ranks.
They shouldn’t be.
Sure, it is unusual for any member of the two major parties to endorse a candidate in another party over their own. It is also true that this is the first time Paul has ever endorsed a non-GOP candidate.
It is also the first time it has made sense for the senator to do so.
While the Democrat still has the polling advantage, combining the Libertarian’s higher support (21 percent) with the Republican’s lesser support (11 percent) would obviously make Johnson a more formidable candidate. If victorious, an independent Sen. Gary Johnson would likely vote … with Paul on libertarian issues more than any other senator, with the arguable exceptions of constitutionalist Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, or on civil liberties, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.
And it is libertarian principle—or more accurately, being effective in advancing liberty principles—that has always animated Paul.
For Paul, his realist and non-interventionist principles remained the same in both scenarios—it’s all the partisan nonsense around him that’s forever changing, depending on who hates who in the White House.
For Paul, again, none of this personal. It has never been about the GOP, or the Libertarian Party, or Obama or Trump or Johnson or himself. It’s always been about the principle at hand, no matter what party one belongs to or what figure libertarians might align with to advance those principles.
Should the “Big L” Libertarian become New Mexico’s next U.S. senator, he will be able to make a real impact by joining forces with America’s most influential libertarian Republican.
Sen. Paul’s father, Dr. Ron Paul, was the 1988 Libertarian presidential nominee. He is a former U.S. congressman from Texas and twice sought the Republican nomination for president. In 2012, his second bid, Gov. Johnson was one of Rep. Paul’s rivals for the Republican nomination, until the governor switched to the Libertarian Party and won the LP’s presidential nomination that year.
Learn more at Gary Johnson’s campaign website: GaryJohnsonSenate.com
Learn more about the work of LP New Mexico: LPNM.us