Scott Powers: Libertarians head toward election with their own unity issues

Gary Johnson

By Scott Powers,, May 29th, 2016:

The Libertarian Party may leave Orlando Monday as emotionally divided as Republicans and Democrats after nominating what the majority of delegates believed was a powerful but not internally-popular ticket, two former Republican governors, to run for president and vice president this year.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson was the heavy favorite to win the presidential nomination again, as he had done in 2012. While he won it, the nod came on a second ballot amidst harsh contention. And Johnson got the running mate he sought, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, but only after an even more bitter fight within the party.

Johnson drew 55 percent to beat four other candidates who appeared on both ballots. But Weld had to squeak out 50.6 percent on the second ballot after the field narrowed to just him and New York business consultant and professor Larry Sharpe.

Johnson hailed the ticket of himself and Weld as being formidable because both are savvy, experienced governors who can expect immediate respect and who know how to run campaigns.

But both are former Republicans, and in fact Weld only switched parties in early May. As a result each of hem drew Libertarian skepticism that they are true believers, especially Weld.  After Johnson’s nomination, the opposition to Weld became a mission for the party’s Radical Caucus. also All of Johnson’s opponents spoke out against Weld. And even during his acceptance speech, Weld was heckled.

But with this ticket, Johnson said he sees the Libertarians gin position to go after votes that might otherwise go to Republican nominee Donald Trump, and votes that might go to likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

“Look, this is another voice at the table. It’s arguably combining the best of what it is to be a Democrat, and the best of what it is to be a Republican, neither of which actually do very well at what they’re supposed to be good at,” Johnson said. “Look, I’m going to pose to people that most people are fiscally conservative, socially liberal, tolerant. And then there’s the wars, the interventions. How about some skeptic at the table involving these interventions?”

Read the rest of the article here. 

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