Birthplace: Minot, North Dakota
Spouse: Dee Simms (1977–2005); Domestic partner: Kate Prusack (fiancée; 2009–present)
Previous Experience: former owner, Big J Enterprises; governor of New Mexico, 1995-1998, 1999-2002.
Education: B.S. , University of New Mexico.
By Michael Coleman
Journal Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON – Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee for president, knew that running for the White House wouldn’t be easy.
But he didn’t know it would be this difficult, either.
“I naively thought this was going to be a fair process – the same process I encountered in New Mexico, where I got a fair shake,” the former two-term New Mexico governor said in a Journal interview. “Running for president of the United States? It’s a club and I didn’t belong.”
Johnson, 59, initially sought the Republican presidential nomination, but he was not invited to participate in most televised primary debates. It hurt not only his ability to get his message heard, but also his fundraising.
The fiscally conservative and socially liberal Johnson abandoned his Republican presidential bid in late December 2011 and sought the Libertarian Party nomination instead. He secured that nomination in May and is currently on the ballot in 47 states, including New Mexico.
Johnson said he is running for president to slash federal spending, restore civil liberties he says are eroding and bring American troops home from foreign wars.
“People really do care about the fact that we’re engaged in endless wars, about the endless police state, the economy and balancing the federal budget,” Johnson said.
He said applying a so-called “fair tax,” which would abolish all federal taxes and replace them with one broad consumption tax that would kick-start the American economy.
“Enacting the fair tax, in my opinion, kicks crony capitalism in the rear end because you’re going to do away with income tax and corporate tax, abolish the IRS and you’re going to replace all of that with a consumption tax,” Johnson said.
“There is an aspect of fairness to that, and an aspect of rebooting the American economy because zero corporate taxes mean tens of thousands of new jobs,” Johnson said.
Johnson has proposed slashing Medicare and Medicaid by more than 40 percent and turning them into state block grant programs. He said both President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney are disingenuous on the issue.
“You’ve got Obama and Romney arguing who is going to spend more money on Medicare when we have to cut Medicare spending. We have to,” Johnson stressed, “or we’re not going to have any Medicare. “There won’t be any Medicare for people over 65.”
Johnson, a self-made millionaire who turned a college handyman service into a major New Mexico construction firm, said his longtime support of legalizing drugs, especially marijuana, “epitomizes my entire campaign.”
Johnson argues that by legalizing and taxing marijuana, the federal government would save billions on interdiction, better control the sales and reap a financial windfall.
He said his support of the issue shows he’s not afraid to tackle politically volatile subjects.
“It’s like a litmus test for having a brain,” Johnson said. “Now that you have 50 percent of Americans supporting the notion and its growing and people are talking about it, I’d like to think people would associate the issue…with the notion that there is nothing this guy won’t take on.”