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Gary Johnson

This article is about the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico. For other uses, see Gary Johnson (disambiguation).

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Gary Johnson

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(1953-01-01) January 1, 1953 (age 63)
Minot, North Dakota, U.S.

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Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953) is an American businessman and politician. He served as the 29th Governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, as a member of the Republican Party, and was the Libertarian Party nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election.[1] In November 2014 Johnson announced that he would run again for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination in 2016.[2]

Born in Minot, North Dakota, Johnson moved with his family to New Mexico in his childhood. While a student at the University of New Mexico in 1974, Johnson sustained himself financially by working as a door-to-door handyman. In 1976 he founded Big J Enterprises, which grew from this one-person venture to become one of New Mexico's largest construction companies.[3] He entered politics for the first time by running for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a fiscally conservative, low-tax and anti-crime platform.[4] Johnson won the Republican Party of New Mexico's gubernatorial nomination, and defeated incumbent Democratic governor Bruce King. During his tenure as governor, Johnson became known for his low-tax libertarian views, adhering to policies of tax and bureaucracy reduction supported by a cost–benefit analysis rationale. He cut the 10% annual growth in the budget: in part, due to his use of the gubernatorial veto 200 times during his first six months in office.[3] Johnson set state and national records for his use of veto and line-item veto powers:[3] estimated to have been more than the other 49 contemporary governors combined,[5][6] which gained him the nicknames "Veto Johnson" and "Governor Veto".[7][8]

Johnson successfully sought re-election in 1998. In his second term, he concentrated on the issue of school voucher reforms,[9] as well as campaigning for marijuana decriminalization and legalization, and opposition to the War on Drugs. Term limited, Johnson could not run for re-election at the end of his second term. As a fitness enthusiast known for his strong emphasis on personal health and aptitude,[10][11] Johnson has taken part in several Ironman Triathlons, and he climbed Mount Everest in May 2003.[12] After leaving office, Johnson founded the non-profit Our America Initiative in 2009, a political advocacy committee seeking to promote policies such as free enterprise, foreign non-interventionism, limited government and privatization. He endorsed the Republican presidential candidacy of Congressman Ron Paul in the 2008 election.[8]

Johnson announced his candidacy for president on April 21, 2011, as a Republican,[13] on a libertarian platform emphasizing the United States public debt and a balanced budget through a 43% reduction of all federal government spending, protection of civil liberties, an immediate end to the War in Afghanistan and his advocacy of the FairTax. On December 28, 2011, after being excluded from the majority of the Republican Party's presidential debates and failing to gain traction while campaigning for the New Hampshire primary, he withdrew his candidacy for the Republican nomination and announced that he would continue his presidential campaign as a candidate for the nomination of the Libertarian Party.[14] He won the Libertarian Party nomination on May 5, 2012. His chosen running mate Judge James P. Gray of California won the vice-presidential nomination. The Johnson/Gray ticket received 0.99% of the popular vote, amounting to 1.27 million votes, more than all other minor candidates combined. This was the most successful result for a third party presidential candidacy since 2000. It was the best showing in the Libertarian Party's history by vote count.[15]

Early life and career

Johnson was born on January 1, 1953, in Minot, North Dakota, the son of Lorraine B. (née Bostow), who worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Earl W. Johnson, a public school teacher.[16] His father was of half Danish and half Norwegian ancestry, and his mother was of Russian descent.[17][18] Johnson graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque in 1971, where he was on the school track team.[19] He attended the University of New Mexico from 1971 to 1975 and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in political science. While at UNM, he joined the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.[20][21] It was there that he met his future wife, Denise "Dee" Simms. While in college, Johnson earned money as a door-to-door handyman.[22] His success in that industry encouraged him to start his own business, Big J Enterprises, in 1976. When he started the business, which focused on mechanical contracting, Johnson was its only employee.[23] His major break with the firm was receiving a large contract from Intel's expansion in Rio Rancho, which increased Big J's revenue to $38 million.[18] Over-burdened by his success, Johnson enrolled in a time management course at night school, which he credits with making him heavily goal-driven.[18] He eventually grew Big J into a multi-million dollar corporation with over 1,000 employees.[24] By the time he sold the company in 1999, it was one of New Mexico's leading construction companies.[25]

Governor of New Mexico

First term

Johnson entered politics in 1994, with the intention of running for governor and was advised by "Republican Elders"[18] to run for the State Legislature instead.[18] Despite their advice, Johnson spent $500,000 of his own money and entered the race with the intent of bringing a "common sense business approach" to the office.[26] Johnson's campaign slogan was "People before Politics".[27] His platform emphasized tax cuts, job creation, state government spending growth restraint, and law and order.[4] He won the Republican nomination, defeating state legislator Richard P. Cheney by 34% to 33%, with John Dendahl and former governor David F. Cargo in third and fourth. Johnson subsequently won the general election, defeating the incumbent Democratic Governor Bruce King by 50% to 40%. Johnson was elected in a nationally Republican year, although party registration in the state of New Mexico at the time was 2-to-1 Democratic.[28]

As governor, Johnson followed a strict small government approach. According to former New Mexico Republican National Committee member Mickey D. Barnett, "Any time someone approached him about legislation for some purpose, his first response always was to ask if government should be involved in that to begin with."[29] He vetoed 200 of 424 bills in his first six months in office—a national record of 47% of all legislation—and used the line-item veto on most remaining bills.[3] In office, Johnson fulfilled his campaign promise to reduce the 10% annual growth of the state budget.[3] In his first budget, Johnson proposed a wide range of tax cuts, including a repeal of the prescription drug tax, a $47 million income tax cut, and a 6 cents per gallon gasoline tax cut. However, of these, only the gasoline tax cut was passed.[30] During the November 1995 federal government shutdown, he joined 20 other Republican governors who called on the Republican leadership in Congress to stand firm in negotiations against the Clinton administration in budget negotiations; in the article reporting on the letter and concomitant news conference he was quoted as calling for eliminating the budget deficit through proportional cuts across the budget.[31] Although Johnson worked to reduce overall state spending, in his first term, he raised education spending by nearly a third.[10] When drop-out rates and test scores showed little improvement, Johnson changed his tactics and began advocating for school vouchers—a key issue in budget battles of his second term as governor.[10]

Second term

In 1998, Johnson ran for re-election as governor against Democratic Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. In his campaign, Johnson promised to continue the policies of his first term: improving schools; cutting state spending, taxes, and bureaucracy; and frequent use of his veto and line-item veto power.[32] Fielding a strong Hispanic candidate in a 40% Hispanic state, the Democrats were expected to oust Johnson,[10] but Johnson won by a 55%-to-45% margin:[33] making him the first Governor of New Mexico to serve two successive four-year terms after term limits were expanded to two terms in 1991.[26] Johnson made the promotion of a school voucher system a "hallmark issue" of his second term.[34] In 1999, he proposed the first statewide voucher system in America, which would have enrolled 100,000 students in its first year.[10] That year, he vetoed two budgets that failed to include a voucher program and a government shutdown was threatened,[10] but ultimately yielded to Democratic majorities in both houses of the New Mexico Legislature, who opposed the plan. Johnson signed the budget, but line-item vetoed a further $21m, or 0.5%, from the legislative plan.[35] In 1999, Johnson became one of the highest-ranking elected officials in the US to advocate the legalization of marijuana.[36] Saying the War on Drugs was "an expensive bust", he advocated the decriminalization of marijuana use and concentration on harm-reduction measures for all other illegal drugs. "He compared attempts to enforce the nation's drug laws with the failed attempt at alcohol prohibition. Half of what government spends on police, courts and prisons is to deal with drug offenders."[23] He suggested that drug abuse be treated as a health issue, not as a criminal issue. His approach to the issue garnered supportive notice from conservative icon William F. Buckley,[37] as well as the Cato Institute and Rolling Stone.[18]

In 2000, Johnson proposed a more ambitious voucher program than he had proposed the year before, under which each parent would receive $3,500 per child for education at any private or parochial school.[34] The Democrats sought $90m extra school funding without school vouchers, and questioned Johnson's request for more funding for state-run prisons, having opposed his opening of two private prisons.[38] Negotiations between the governor and the legislature were contentious, again nearly leading to a government shutdown. In 2000, New Mexico was devastated by the Cerro Grande Fire. Johnson's handling of the disaster earned him accolades from The Denver Post, which observed that:

Johnson.....was all over the Cerro Grande Fire last week. He helped reporters understand where the fire was headed when low-level Forest Service officials couldn't, ran herd over the bureaucratic process of getting state and federal agencies and the National Guard involved, and even helped put out some of the fire with his feet. On a tour of Los Alamos last Wednesday, when he saw small flames spreading across a lawn, he had his driver stop his car. He jumped out and stomped on the flames, as did his wife and some of his staffers.[11]
Johnson's leadership during the fire was praised by Democratic Congressman Tom Udall, who said: "I think the real test of leadership is when you have circumstances like this. He's called on his reserves of energy and has just been a really excellent leader under very difficult circumstances here."[11] Johnson rebuffed efforts by the Libertarian Party to draft him in the 2000 presidential election, stating himself to be a Republican with no interest in running for president.[39]


Commentator Andrew Sullivan quoted a claim that Johnson "is highly regarded in the state for his outstanding leadership during two terms as governor. He slashed the size of state government during his term and left the state with a large budget surplus."[40] In an interview in Reason magazine in January 2001, Johnson's accomplishments in office were described as follows: "no tax increases in six years, a major road building program, shifting Medicaid to managed care, constructing two new private prisons, canning 1,200 state employees, and vetoing a record number of bills".[26] According to one New Mexico paper, "Johnson left the state fiscally solid", and was "arguably the most popular governor of the decade… leaving the state with a $1 billion budget surplus."[41] The Washington Times reported that when Johnson left office, "the size of state government had been substantially reduced and New Mexico was enjoying a large budget surplus."[29]

According to a profile of Johnson in the National Review, "During his tenure, he vetoed more bills than the other 49 governors combined—750 in total, one third of which had been introduced by Republican legislators. Johnson also used his line-item-veto power thousands of times. He credits his heavy veto pen for eliminating New Mexico's budget deficit and cutting the growth rate of New Mexico's government in half."[42] According to the Myrtle Beach Sun, Johnson "said his numerous vetoes, only two of which were overridden, stemmed from his philosophy of looking at all things for their cost–benefit ratio and his axe fell on Republicans as well as Democrats".[23]

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Johnson at Ron Paul's "Rally for the Republic"

While in office, Johnson was criticized for opposing funding for an independent study of private prisons after a series of riots and killings at the facilities.[43] Martin Chavez, his opponent in the 1998 New Mexico gubernatorial race, criticized Johnson for his frequent vetoing of programs, suggesting that it resulted in New Mexico's low economic and social standing nationally.[44] Journalist Mark Ames described Johnson as "a hard-core conservative" who "ruled the state like a right-wing authoritarian" and only embraced marijuana legalization in his second term for populist gain.[45] This was mainly in reference to a commercial from Johnson's reelection campaign, featuring Johnson saying that a felon in New Mexico would serve "every lousy second" of their prison sentence. Johnson insisted however that the commercial was directed at "the guy who's got his gun out" rather than non-violent drug offenders.[45]

Post governorship

Johnson was term limited and could not run for a third consecutive term as governor in 2002.[46] In the 2008 presidential election campaign, Johnson endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican nomination, "because of his commitment to less government, greater liberty, and lasting prosperity for America."[8][47] Johnson spoke at Paul's "Rally for the Republic" on September 2, 2008.[48]

Johnson serves on the Advisory Council of Students for Sensible Drug Policy,[49] a student nonprofit organization which advocates for drug policy reform.

As of April 2011, he serves on the board of directors of Students For Liberty, a nonprofit libertarian organization.[50] His first book, Seven Principles of Good Government, was published on August 1, 2012.[51]

2012 presidential campaign

In the 2012 United States presidential election, Johnson received 1% of the popular vote, amounting to more than 1.2 million votes. This was the most successful result for a third-party presidential candidacy since 2000, and the best in the Libertarian Party's history by vote number.[15][52]

Early history

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Logo of the Our America Initiative, which Johnson founded in 2009

In 2009, Johnson began indicating interest in running for president in the 2012 election.[53][54] In the April 20, 2009 edition of The American Conservative Magazine, Bill Kauffman told readers to "keep an eye out" for a Johnson presidential campaign in 2012, reporting that Johnson had told him that "he was keeping his options open for 2012" and that "he may take a shot at the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 as an antiwar, anti-Fed, pro-personal liberties, slash-government-spending candidate—in other words, a Ron Paul libertarian".[53] During a June 24, 2009 appearance on Fox News's Freedom Watch, host Judge Andrew Napolitano asked Johnson if he would run for president in 2012, to which Johnson responded that he thought it would be inappropriate to openly express his desires before President Obama is given the opportunity to prove himself, but he followed up that statement by saying "it appears personal freedoms are being shoveled out the window more and more."[55]

In an October 26, 2009 interview with the Santa Fe New Mexican's Steve Terrell, Johnson announced his decision to form an advocacy committee called the Our America Initiative to help him raise funds and promote small government ideas. In December 2009, Johnson hired strategist Ronald T. Nielson of NSON Opinion Strategy, who has worked with Johnson since 1993 when he ran his successful gubernatorial campaign, to organize the Our American Initiative as a 501(c)(4) committee. The stated focus of the organization is to "speak out on issues regarding topics such as government efficiency, lowering taxes, ending the war on drugs, protecting civil liberties, revitalizing the economy and promoting entrepreneurship and privatization".[56] The move prompted speculation among media pundits and Johnson's supporters that he might be laying the groundwork for a 2012 presidential run.[57][58] Throughout 2010, Johnson repeatedly deflected questions about a 2012 presidential bid by saying his 501(c)(4) status prevented him from expressing a desire to run for federal office on politics.[59][60] However, he was outspoken about the issues affecting the country, particularly "the size and cost of government" and the "deficits and debt that truly threaten to consume the U.S. economy, and which represent the single greatest threat to our national security."[61]

Johnson speaking at CPAC 2011

In February 2011, Johnson was a featured speaker at both the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) and the Republican Liberty Caucus.[62] At CPAC, "the crowd liked him—even as he pushed some of his more controversial points."[63] Johnson tied with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for third in the CPAC Straw Poll, trailing only Ron Paul and Mitt Romney (and ahead of such notables as former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Alaska Governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin).[64] David Weigel of Slate called Johnson the second-biggest winner of the conference, writing that his "third-place showing in the straw poll gave Johnson his first real media hook … He met tons of reporters, commanded a small scrum after the vote, and is a slightly lighter shade of dark horse now."[65]

Republican presidential candidacy

On April 21, 2011 Johnson announced via Twitter, "I am running for president."[66] He followed this announcement with a speech at the New Hampshire State House in Concord, New Hampshire.[13] He was the first of an eventually large field to announce his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.[67] Johnson chose Ron Nielson, a director for both of his New Mexico gubernatorial campaigns, as his presidential campaign director and senior advisor.[67] The campaign was headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.[67] Johnson's economics advisor was Harvard economics professor Jeffrey Miron.[68] Initially, Johnson hoped Ron Paul would not run for president so that Johnson could galvanize Paul's network of libertarian-minded voters, and he even traveled to Houston to tell Paul of his decision to run in person,[67] but Paul announced his candidacy on May 13, 2011.

Johnson participated in the first of the Republican presidential debates, hosted by Fox News in South Carolina on May 5, 2011, appearing on stage with Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Tim Pawlenty, and Rick Santorum. Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann both declined to debate. Johnson was excluded from the next three debates on June 13 (hosted by CNN in New Hampshire), August 11 (hosted by Fox News in Iowa), and September 7 (hosted by CNN in California).[67] After the first exclusion, Johnson made a 43-minute video responding to each of the debate questions, which he posted on YouTube.[67][69] The first exclusion, which was widely publicized, gave Johnson "a little bump" in name recognition and produced "a small uptick" in donations.[67] But "the long term consequences were dismal."[67] For the financial quarter ending June 30, Johnson raised a mere $180,000.[67] Fox News decided that because Johnson polled at least 2% in five recent polls, he could participate in a September 22 debate in Florida, which it co-hosted with the Florida Republican Party (the party objected to Johnson's inclusion).[67] Johnson participated, appearing on stage with Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. During the debate, Johnson delivered what many media outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, and Time, called the best line of the night: "My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel ready jobs than this administration."[70][71] Entertainment Weekly opined that Johnson had won the debate.[72]

Libertarian presidential nomination and campaign

Although Johnson had focused the majority of his campaign activities on the New Hampshire primary, he announced on November 29, 2011 that he would no longer campaign there due to his inability to gain traction with less than a month until the primary.[73] There was speculation in the media that he might run as a Libertarian Party candidate instead. Johnson acknowledged that he was considering such a move.[74][75][76] In December, Politico reported that Johnson would quit the Republican primaries and announce his intention to seek the Libertarian Party nomination at a December 28 press conference.[77] He also encouraged his supporters to vote for Ron Paul in 2012 Republican presidential primaries.[78]

On December 28, 2011, Johnson formally withdrew his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination, and declared his candidacy for the 2012 presidential nomination of the Libertarian Party in Santa Fe, New Mexico.[14] On May 5, 2012, at the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, Johnson received the Libertarian Party's official nomination for president in the 2012 election, by a vote of 419 votes to 152 votes for second-place candidate R. Lee Wrights.[1][79] In his acceptance speech, Johnson asked the convention's delegates to nominate as his running mate Judge Jim Gray of California.[80] Gray subsequently received the party's vice-presidential nomination on the first ballot.[79]

Johnson spent the early months of his campaign making media appearances on television programs such as The Daily Show with Jon Stewart[81] and Red Eye w/Greg Gutfeld.[82] Starting in September 2012, Johnson embarked on a three-week tour of college campuses throughout the US.[83][84] On October 23, 2012, Gary Johnson participated in a third party debate that was aired on C-SPAN, RT America, and Al Jazeera English.[85][86] A post-debate online election allowed people to choose two candidates from the debate they thought had won to face each other head to head in a run-off debate. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein won the poll.[87] They debated in Washington, D.C., on November 5, 2012.[88]

Johnson stated that his goal was to win at least 5 percent of the vote, as winning 5 percent would allow Libertarian Party candidates equal ballot access and federal funding during the next election cycle.[89][90] In a national Gallup poll of likely registered voters conducted June 7 through June 10, 2012, Johnson took 3% of the vote,[91] while a Gallup poll conducted September 6 through September 9, 2012, showed Johnson taking 1% of likely voters.[92] A Zogby poll released July 13, 2012, revealed Johnson took 5.3% of likely voters,[93] while a Zogby poll released September 23, 2012, showed Johnson taking 2% of likely voters.[94] The final results showed Johnson polling nearly 1.3 million votes and 1.0% of the popular vote.[95][96] This established a Libertarian Party record for total votes won in a presidential election and the second-highest Libertarian percentage ever, behind Ed Clark's 1.1% in 1980.[97] Despite falling short of his stated goal of 5%, Johnson stated, "Ours is a mission accomplished".[98] In regards to a future presidential bid, he said "it is too soon to be talking about 2016".[98]

Post-2012 elections

Since the 2012 elections, Johnson has continued to criticize the Obama administration on various issues. In an article for The Guardian, Johnson called on United States Attorney General Eric Holder to let individual states legalize marijuana.[99] In a Google Hangout hosted by Johnson in June 2013, he criticized the US government's lack of transparency and due process in regards to the NSA's domestic surveillance programs. He also said that he would not discount running as a Republican again in the future.[100]

Our America PAC

In December 2013, Johnson announced the founding of his own Super PAC, Our America PAC. The Super PAC is intended to support libertarian-minded causes. “From the realities of government-run healthcare setting in to the continuing disclosures of the breadth of NSA’s domestic spying, more Americans than ever are ready to take a serious look at candidates who offer real alternatives to business-as-usual,” the release announcing the PAC said.[101]

Board of Directors of Medican Enterprises

In March 2014 Johnson was appointed to the board of Medican Enterprises, a bio-pharmaceutical company focused on the medical marijuana industry.[102]

CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc.

In July 2014 Johnson was named president and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a Nevada-based company that aims primarily to sell medical cannabis products in states where medicinal and/or recreational cannabis is legal.[103][104]

Potential 2016 presidential candidacy

In an April 2014 Reddit "Ask Me Anything" session, Johnson stated that he hopes to run for president again in 2016.[105] On whether he would run as a Libertarian or a Republican, he stated that "I would love running as a Libertarian because I would have the least amount of explaining to do."[105]

In November 2014, Johnson affirmed his intention to run for the 2016 Libertarian nomination.[2]

Political positions

Johnson's views have been described as fiscally conservative and socially liberal[106] with a philosophy of limited government[107] and military non-interventionism.[108][109] He has identified as a classical liberal.[110] Johnson has said he favors simplifying and reducing taxes.[111] During his governorship, Johnson cut taxes fourteen times and never increased them.[112] Due to his stance on taxes, political pundit David Weigel described him as "the original Tea Party candidate."[113] Johnson has advocated for the FairTax, a proposal which would abolish all federal income, corporate and capital gains taxes, and replace them with a 23% tax on consumption of all non-essential goods, while providing a regressive rebate to households according to income level. He has argued that this would assure transparency in the tax system and incentivize the private sector to create "tens of millions of jobs."[114]

Johnson has said that he supports balancing the federal budget immediately.[115] He has stated he supports "slashing government spending", including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security,[111] which would involve cutting Medicare and Medicaid by 43 percent and turning them into block grant programs, with control of spending in the hands of the states to create, in his words, "fifty laboratories of innovation."[115] He has advocated passing a law allowing for state bankruptcy and expressly ruling out a federal bailout of any states.[107] Johnson has expressed opposition to the Federal Reserve System, which he has cited as massively devaluing the strength of the U.S. dollar, and would sign legislation to eliminate it. He has also supported an audit of the central bank, and urged Members of Congress in July 2012 to vote in favor of Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Transparency Act.[116]

In his campaign for the Libertarian Party nomination, he stated he opposed foreign wars and pledged to cut the military budget by 43 percent in his first term as president.[109] He would cut the military's overseas bases, uniformed and civilian personnel, research and development, intelligence, and nuclear weapons programs.[117][118] He has stated his opposition to US involvement in the War in Afghanistan and opposed the US involvement in the Libyan Civil War.[119] He has stated that he does not believe Iran is a military threat, would use his presidential power to prevent Israel from attacking Iran, and would not follow Israel, or any other ally, into a war that it had initiated.[120]

Johnson is a strong supporter of civil liberties and received the highest score of any candidate from the American Civil Liberties Union for supporting drug decriminalization and having a pro-choice stance on abortion, while opposing censorship and regulation of the Internet, the Patriot Act, enhanced airport screenings, and the indefinite detention of prisoners.[121] He has spoken in favor of the separation of church and state, and has said that he does not "seek the counsel of God" when determining his political agenda.[122] Johnson endorsed same-sex marriage in 2011;[123] he has since called for a constitutional amendment protecting equal marriage rights,[123] and criticized Obama's position on the issue as having "thrown this question back to the states."[124] Johnson has been a longtime advocate of legalizing marijuana and has said that if he were president, he would remove it from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act as well as issue an executive order pardoning non-violent marijuana offenders.[125] Johnson has stated his opposition to gun control and has said, "I'm a firm believer in the Second Amendment and so I would not have signed legislation banning assault weapons or automatic weapons."[126]

Personal life

Johnson was married to Dee Johnson (née Simms; 1952–2006) from 1977 to 2005.[127] As First Lady of New Mexico, she engaged in campaigns against smoking and breast cancer,[128] and oversaw the enlargement of the Governor's Mansion. He initiated a separation in May 2005 and four months later he announced that they would divorce.[129] Dee Johnson died unexpectedly on December 22, 2006, at the age of 54.[130] It was established in February 2007 that her death was caused by hypertensive heart disease.[131] Syndicated columnist John Dendahl expressed shock upon her death, as she had been "very vivacious" only two weeks previously. After her death, Johnson said, "People couldn't have gotten a better number one volunteer, because that's what she was. Whatever [the issue] was, she had a caring approach."[130] Johnson and his late wife have two grown children:[127] a daughter, Seah (born 1979), and a son, Erik (born 1982).[132]

As of November 9, 2012,[133] Johnson is engaged to Santa Fe real estate agent Kate Prusack, whom he began dating in 2008 after meeting on a bike ride. Johnson proposed in 2009 on the chair lift at Taos Ski Valley Resort in New Mexico.[134] He lives in Taos, New Mexico,[135][136] in a home that he built himself.[63]

Johnson is an avid triathlete who bikes extensively and abstains from all recreational drug use, caffeine, alcohol, and some sugar products. During his term in office, he competed in several triathlons, marathons and bike races. He competed three times (1993, 1997, 1999) as a celebrity invitee at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, registering his best time for the Script error: No such module "convert". swim, Script error: No such module "convert". bike ride, and Script error: No such module "convert". marathon run in 1999 with 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 16 seconds.[137][138] He once ran Script error: No such module "convert". in 30 consecutive hours in the Rocky Mountains.[18] On May 30, 2003, he reached the summit of Mount Everest[12] "despite toes blackened with frostbite."[29] He has climbed all seven of the Seven Summits: Mount Everest, Mount Elbrus, Mount McKinley, Mount Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, Mount Vinson, and Carstensz Pyramid—the tallest peaks in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, South America, Antarctica, and Oceania respectively.[139] He completed the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, in which participants traverse a 26.2 mile course through the desert, many of them in combat boots and wearing 35-pound packs.[140] On October 12, 2005, Johnson was involved in a near-fatal paragliding accident when his wing caught in a tree and he fell approximately 50 feet to the ground. Johnson suffered multiple bone fractures, including a burst fracture to his T12 vertebrae, a broken rib, and a broken knee; this accident left him 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) shorter.[141][142][143] He used medicinal marijuana for pain control from 2005 to 2008.[144]

Johnson is a Lutheran and stated that his belief in God has given him "a very fundamental belief that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us."[145]

Electoral history

New Mexico gubernatorial election, 1994[146]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Gary Johnson 232,945 49.81% +4.66%
Democratic Bruce King (inc.) 186,686 39.92% -14.68%
Green Roberto Mondragón 47,990 10.26%
Majority 46,259 9.89% +0.44%
Turnout 467,621
Republican gain from Democratic Swing
New Mexico gubernatorial election, 1998[147]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Gary Johnson (inc.) 271,948 54.53% +4.72%
Democratic Martin Chávez 226,755 45.47% +5.55%
Majority 45,193 9.06% -0.83%
Turnout 498,703
Republican hold Swing
United States presidential election, 2012[96]

Election on November 6, 2012

Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Barack Obama (inc.) 65,899,583 51.03% -1.84%
Republican Mitt Romney 60,931,966 47.19% +1.59%
Libertarian Gary Johnson 1,275,821 0.99% +0.59%
Green Jill Stein 468,907 0.36% +0.24%
Constitution Virgil Goode 121,616 0.09% -0.06%
Others Others 434,247 0.34% -0.52%
Majority (1,333,513) (1.03%)
Turnout 129,132,140 100.00%
Democratic hold Swing


  • Seven Principles of Good Government: Gary Johnson on liberty, people and politics. 2012. Aberdeen, WA: Silver Lake Publishing. ISBN 978-1563439131. OCLC 809701081


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Further reading

External links

Party political offices
Preceded by
Frank Bond
Republican nominee for Governor of New Mexico
1994, 1998
Succeeded by
John Sánchez
Preceded by
Bob Barr
Libertarian nominee for President of the United States
Most recent
Political offices
Preceded by
Bruce King
Governor of New Mexico
Succeeded by
Bill Richardson

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