Gary Johnson announces Libertarian run.

Former Republican Governor Announces Third-Party Bid

Former Republican Governor Announces Third-Party Bid

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Jan. 6 2016 2:40 PM

Gary Johnson Will Make Another Third-Party Run For President

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Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson speaks in the Fox News/Google GOP Debate at the Orange County Convention Center on Sept. 22, 2011, in Orlando, Florida.

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Gary Johnson will make his second third-party run for president. It’s unlikely to go much better than his first.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

The former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico announced Wednesday that he will again seek the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination, which he won four years ago on his way to finishing a mere 64,639,824 votes behind eventual winner Barack Obama.

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"It was kind of a commitment from the last go-round that I made to a lot of people," Johnson told the Washington Post. "The idea was, if I do well enough, I'll run again. I’ll be the first one to say that I don’t think I did very well at all! But everyone else has said otherwise, that it was a very successful, very significant campaign for the party."

Johnson, an early advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana, launched his last Libertarian campaign only after his short-lived run for the GOP nomination failed to amount to much four years ago. While he didn’t have much of an impact on the 2012 general election either, his nearly 1.3 million votes were the highest total by a Libertarian candidate in the party’s 40-year history (though his 0.99-percent share of the total vote was a few ticks less than 1980 nominee Ed Clark’s 1.06 percent).

Regardless, unless—and, realistically, even if—the Commission on Presidential Debates lets him on stage next fall, Johnson is destined to be little more than a footnote again. Placing third in a two-party race is the best he can hope for.