The Slatest

Gary Johnson Wins Libertarian Presidential Nomination at Contested Convention

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson walks in Lafayette Park across from the White House on May 9, 2016.

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will be the Libertarian Party candidate for president, delegates decided on Sunday at a convention in Orlando. Johnson had also been the Libertarian candidate for president in 2012, but his nomination was far from a cakewalk as the vote had to go to second ballot. In the first ballot, Johnson fell just shy of the majority he needed to clinch victory, obtaining 49.5 percent of the vote with Austin Peters coming in second place with 21 percent and John McAfee third with 14 percent. Delegates also narrowly selected former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld to be Johnson’s running mate, although his selection did not come without controversy as some party stalwarts criticized Weld for only becoming a Libertarian this month.

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Libertarians think that this could be their year in the sun after both Democrats and Republicans appear ready to nominate unpopular Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to be their presidential candidates. “We have been given the gift of Trump and Clinton,” said Larry Sharpe, a businessman who was running to become the Libertarian vice-presidential candidate. “Their ears are open and I want them to hear who we are and vote for us for who we are.”

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Polls suggest voters may be eager for other options. Surveys show Johnson receiving 10 percent of the vote in a three-way race with Trump and Clinton and almost half of all voters say they’d consider a third-party candidate if their choices are the former secretary of State or the real estate mogul. If Johnson’s support can increase to 15 percent in pre-election polls then he would be the first third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992 to participate in the presidential debates.

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Libertarians are also hopeful the discontent over Trump means they could get some cash from some longtime Republican donors. And that’s where Weld’s presence in the ticket is seen as key because he has lots of experience fundraising and helped raise cash for Mitt Romney’s candidacy in 2012.

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