Former New Mexico governor and big cannabis CEO Gary Johnson is running for president as a Libertarian, he announced today. He’s not going to win, but he will probably make Rand Paul even less of a viable presidential contender than he already is.
Johnson also ran for president in 2012, initially declaring his candidacy as a Republican, then switching to the Libertarian ticket. He didn’t do so well back then. In October, he teased a 2016 run on his blog, rehashing his long-held support for a very small federal government and calling out Paul for abandoning his own Libertarian principles.
Paul, of course, is the scion of Ron Paul, the most recognizable Libertarian in America. The elder Paul’s own failed but energetic presidential bids demonstrated the awkward position of official Libertarianism in national politics: a movement that walks a fine line between rejecting the existing political system and trying claim influence over the mainstream Republican Party.
Rand Paul’s aim was to be the Electable Libertarian: principled enough to support scaling back the drug war, to name one example, but not so principled that he wants to fully legalize drugs, like his dad did. Johnson, on the other hand, called for legalizing weed way back in 1999, and is so enthusiastic about the plant that he became CEO of a Nevada-based cannabis company in 2014. (He resigned in order to run earlier this week).
With poll numbers that have barely kept him out of the wings on the Republican debate stage, Rand Paul shows no sign of being convincingly electable. Johnson’s bid suggests Paul hasn’t convinced people on the Libertarian front, either.