Remember Gary Johnson? He Wants to Run for President Again.

The libertarian governor is tilting at yet another windmill.

388141 02: New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson discusses the possibility of the legalization of drugs April 22, 2001 on NBC's 'Meet the Press' during a taping at the NBC studios in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)
National Journal
Emma Roller
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Emma Roller
April 23, 2014, 12:18 p.m.

Every­one’s third-fa­vor­ite 2012 pres­id­en­tial can­did­ate is back in the ring.

In a Red­dit “Ask Me Any­thing” ses­sion on Tues­day, former New Mex­ico Gov. Gary John­son said he would like to run for pres­id­ent in 2016. He ran against Mitt Rom­ney and Barack Obama as a Liber­tari­an in 2012.

“Let’s skip the pleas­ant­ries and ask the ques­tion every­one wants to know the an­swer to. Will you be run­ning for pres­id­ent in 2016?” one Red­dit user asked John­son.

“I hope to be able to run in 2016,” John­son replied.

When asked which party he would run un­der — Liber­tari­an or Re­pub­lic­an — he said, “I would love run­ning as a Liber­tari­an be­cause I would have the least amount of ex­plain­ing to do.”

This news may be scoffable to some — after all, John­son earned just 1.2 mil­lion votes in 2012, or about 1 per­cent of the pop­u­lar vote. But he ran the most suc­cess­ful third-party cam­paign since Ral­ph Nader in 2000, and we all know how that one turned out.

And while not much may have changed between 2012 and 2016, it’s hard to un­der­es­tim­ate the seis­mic shift to­ward liber­tari­an­ism that the Re­pub­lic­an Party has un­der­gone in the past few years. Yes­ter­days Re­pub­lic­ans wouldn’t have dreamed of sup­port­ing state gay-mar­riage laws or med­ic­al marijuana. Now, the GOP’s big names are skirt­ing those is­sues, but not openly op­pos­ing them, either.

It’s worth re­mem­ber­ing that John­son was at the fore­front of both those is­sues. He’s long been a cru­sader for leg­al­ized marijuana, and he came out in fa­vor of same-sex mar­riage (al­beit not for its fed­er­al pro­tec­tion) long be­fore Pres­id­ent Obama did.

While so­cial is­sues hardly de­cide a pres­id­ency, it goes to show that the mor­als we con­sidered “pres­id­en­tial” yes­ter­day, we may find re­pug­nant to­mor­row. And if the 2016 Re­pub­lic­an nom­in­ee is as clue­less about con­nect­ing with young voters as Mitt Rom­ney was, a John­son can­did­acy might start look­ing a lot more ap­peal­ing.

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