It was reported last month that Gary Johnson had decided against creating a 3rd party candidacy as a Libertarian. I was surprised that Johnson would rule out that option because it seemed clear that Johnson’s one chance at a prominent national position is creating a 3rd party campaign. Now, apparently, that’s all changed and Johnson will run after all. It’s going to make the 2012 election more interesting to have Johnson involved.
Gary Johnson won’t win the Presidency this year but that’s ok. What he needs is not a win but relevance. As a 3rd party candidate, Johnson will have a chance to receive increased media attention, substantial fundraising, a debate presence and the potential to launch a 2016 GOP candidacy with a chance of success.
I’m convinced many Ron Paul supporters will shift their allegiance to Johnson (and that Paul will encourage them to do so) as a Libertarian and he will gain more than 5% of the national vote next November. If that happens, Johnson will be the primary frontrunner for the GOP nomination in 2016 (followed up by Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio/Bobby Jindal), a position impossible for Johnson to achieve without making this run.
Now, Johnson’s run will cement Obama’s re-election bid next fall but will also supply the GOP with a ready made excuse for failure. The GOP will be so desperate to regain the White House in the 2016 election cycle that Johnson will be warmly welcomed back into the fold. At this point, there’s virtually no downside for Johnson and lots of potential gain.
I imagine Johnson’s candidacy will also help enhance the 2012 campaign conversations involved in determining the direction of national issues like human rights, education initiatives and drug policies. Considering the present likelihood of personal attacks and partisan views in one on one debates, I’ll be excited to have Johnson’s voice moderating the tone of the political conversations.
Well, I can hope at least!