This post is part of my “2012 Presidential Election” series. Click here to see more in the series.
He’s not as good-looking as Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin or Paul Ryan (do you know how often I begin to call him Ryan Paul, or even Ron Paul—what kind of guy has two first names for a name?). He’s not as ugly as Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich or Mitch Daniels. So, I guess we can chalk up his average looks as another point against him.
If you’ve ever heard of Gary Johnson before, please raise your hand. Now, if you’re from New Mexico, put your hand down. That’s what I thought; there are three people outside of New Mexico that’s heard of Gary Johnson.
Aside: as I was just now writing a list of the pretty Republicans who are running for president, I realized that there are a LOT of pretty people running for the Republican party nomination! I had to keep adding to the list! [end of aside]
No one knows who Gary Johnson is. His looks make him unremarkable. His name is not easy to remember, because it’s so common. What does Gary Johnson have going for him that other candidates do not?
Well, let me make a list (because lists are easier to read):
- Won 2 statewide elections in a moderately Democratic state
- Successful 2-term governor of a modestly-populous state (New Mexico)
- Vetoed 750 bills that were passed by the state legislature, to save the state money
- Decreased state workers in New Mexico by 1,200 over his 8 years as governor
- Cut taxes 14 times during his time as governor
- He left New Mexico with a $1 billion surplus
- Was called the most “fiscally conservative governor”
- Supported school vouchers to increase competition in public education
- He finished third in the 2011 CPAC straw poll (behind Ron Paul and Mitt Romney)
- He supports expanding immigration, making it easier to come here and stay here
- He advocates getting rid of the corporate income tax to stimulate economic growth
- Was a successful businessman, and a self-made millionaire, before getting into politics
I’ve heard several interviews with Gary Johnson, and one of my favorite stories that he tells is about when he vetoed legislation that would have required pet stores to give their cats and dogs a certain amount of exercise per week. While well-intentioned, the law would have required a large new state bureaucracy to make sure the regulations were followed. This veto example is classic Gary Johnson. His favorite mantra about government is “what are we paying for, and what are we getting for for what we’re paying?”
So, the upside to Gary Johnson for president is that he has executive experience, he has a conservative fiscal record, and he governs with common sense. What are some of the potential pitfalls for Gary Johnson?
- Name recognition: he doesn’t have any
- He gets bogged down on the issue of legalized marijuana. He’s for it. I think he has a well-thought-out policy on this, but it could bog him down in other areas.
- His support in the Republican Party decreases with his positions on abortion and gay marriage. He thinks that abortion should be legal up to the point of viability, and he believes that government should get out of the business of marriage (and allow gays to have their own unions).
Question: Gary Johnson is often called a libertarian Republican. Do you think that libertarians are right to say the government should get out of the marriage business?
Video of Gary Johnson at CPAC: