The Libertarian Party has nominated former Republican Gov. Gary Johnson of New Mexico for president. Former Republican Gov. Bill Weld of Massachusetts will be on Johnson’s ticket as a vice presidential nominee.
On May 29, Johnson and Weld prevailed at the Libertarian Party convention in Orlando, Florida. Both candidates won their slots on the second ballot, despite protestations from some delegates that they weren't sufficiently libertarian, the political philosophy of fiscal conservatism with liberal social values.
With two former governors, the Libertarian ticket could have greater visibility and respectability in the November general election.
“I think the credibility of two past governors goes a long way with the media,” delegate Michelle Pogue of Colorado told NPR. “It goes a long way with the general public. It’s a good way to get our message out to people. I’m afraid if we put somebody too radical up there, the people will be turned off.”
Libertarian Party Chairman Nicholas Sarwark asserted that his party has an opportunity to make an impact in 2016, during an election when the two likely choices, presumed Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, both have low favorability ratings with voters.
“It’s kind of like two football teams and you want both of them to lose,” Sarwark explained. “Maybe a meteor will hit the stadium. This is the opportunity for the American people to vote for the meteor.”
On May 18, the polling group Data Targeting found that 55 percent of voters were in favor of having an independent presidential candidate on the general election ballot, according to Politico.
Johnson was the Libertarian nominee in 2012 and won less than 1 percent of the national vote. A recent Fox News poll found that Johnson would receive 10 percent support against Trump and Clinton.
Weld believes their ticket could offer the American people a viable alternative, not just to spite the conventional candidates but based on the merit of Libertarian principles.
“Someone doesn’t have to be disaffected with Ms. Clinton to think that we have a good story,” Weld told CNN. “One doesn’t have to be Never Trump to see that we were two of the most fiscally conservative governors in the United States.”
During his acceptance speech, Johnson slammed Trump for his stance on immigration, deeming the business mogul’s proposal to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants “just racist.”
The Libertarian Party’s 2016 platform includes the nationwide legalization of marijuana, stripping back government surveillance and withdrawing the presence of the U.S. military in foreign countries.
If Johnson reaches 15 percent support in five national polls, he could be included in the general election debates to argue his case as a Libertarian candidate, according to The Atlantic.