It’s not a campaign, but Gary Johnson is back in the political game.
Starting in April, the 2012 Libertarian Party presidential nominee and former two-term governor of New Mexico told New Mexico Watchdog, his “Our America” initiative will kick off a series of speaking engagements across the country to spread his message of fiscal conservatism and social liberalism.
“We’re up and running and we’ll see where it goes,” Johnson said by phone from his home in Taos.Last November, Johnson’s Libertarian Party run against Barack Obama and Mitt Romney was a mixture of good news and bad news.
The good news? He received just under 1.3 million votes, the most ever for a Libertarian Party candidate.
The bad news? That was still less than 1 percent of the vote.
“I don’t want to talk about a presidential run (in 2016),” Johnson said, “but I do want to have a seat at the table … I think what I bring to the equation is the best of both worlds. I’m more liberal than Obama on social issues and I’m more conservative than Republicans on fiscal issues. And I think a lot of Americans feel the same way.”
Three years ago, Johnson and a skeleton staff started the non-profit Our America initiative when Johnson ran in the Republican presidential primary. After getting shut out of most of the GOP’s televised debates, a frustrated Johnson switched to the Libertarian Party in December 2011.
Johnson said Our America raised about $1 million during that outing. He’s hoping to raise $6 million this time.
By comparison, Ron Paul, who ran in the Republican primaries in 2012 and is perhaps the best-known national politician with libertarian credentials, raised about $45 million.
“Last time, we had no money whatsoever,” Johnson said. “And nobody was really donating and a lot of people with libertarian sympathies went with Ron Paul. I don’t know if that will change now, but let’s talk to people and see.”
Our America officials sent out an e-mail to supporters saying Johnson “is resuming his position as honorary chairman” and Johnson told New Mexico Watchdog the organization will rely on social media to highlight his speaking engagements at campuses “in the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains” starting in early April.
Johnson’s name was on the ballot for the presidential race in every state last November except Oklahoma and Michigan. Johnson said he set a record in Michigan for the most write-in votes in that state’s history.
After the November election, Johnson contemplated bowing out of politics. An avid outdoorsman and athlete, he said he and his family scaled Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Andes (22,837 feet) over the New Year’s Day holidays and said he’s come back refreshed.
“I really love the life that I have here in Taos,” Johnson said. “I live in my dream house. I ski every day … I don’t want to beat my head against the wall … Let’s put parties aside and talk about the issues.”