Buying of the President

Published — July 6, 2016

9 things to know about Gary Johnson

Former New Mexico governor running for president as a Libertarian


Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, is hoping to turn some voters’ dissatisfaction with Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton into electoral gold.

Recent polls show Johnson — who was also the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee in 2012, when he earned about 1 percent of the vote — garnering more than 7 percent of the vote nationally. If he can repeatedly break 15 percent, he may make it into the official presidential debates this fall.

Johnson is now courting voters who are fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.

Four years ago, he raised about $2.8 million for his long-shot presidential bid and appeared on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma. This year, his supporters are hoping to top that — and qualify for the ballot in all 50 states.

Johnson may be best known for supporting the legalization of marijuana.

Prior to entering the 2016 race, Johnson served as CEO of a publicly traded company called Cannabis Sativa, Inc., which, as Johnson once said, wants to be “the Dom Perignon” of marijuana.

Time will tell if Johnson’s 2016 presidential bid gain traction, or just go up in smoke. In the meantime, here are nine key facts about Johnson’s current and past campaigns.

  • Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson twice served as New Mexico’s governor — as a Republican.
  • In 2012, Gary Johnson unsuccessfully sought the GOP presidential nomination. He then became the Libertarian Party’s nominee — and earned about 1 percent of the vote. 
  • Libertarian Gary Johnson raised about $2.8 million for his 2012 presidential run — including more than $500,000 in public funding. 
  • Libertarian Gary Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign is still in debt — to the tune of about $1.9 million
  • More than 70 percent of Gary Johnson’s spending for his 2016 presidential campaign through April went to the firm of his campaign manager, Ron Nielson. 
  • Federal disclosures show that Gary Johnson was worth at least $3.5 million in 2011. 
  • About half of the $700,000 Gary Johnson raised through May 2016 came from small-dollar donors giving $200 or less. 
  • Among Gary Johnson’s big donors this election? Cato Institute co-founder Ed Crane, game show host Drew Carey, former Nirvana bass guitarist Krist Novoselic and Phil Harvey, the head of sex toy company Adam and Eve. 
  • Gary Johnson is also raising money for the Libertarian Party in 15 states through a special “joint fundraising” group that can collect more than $150,000 per donor. 

Sources: Center for Public Integrity reporting, as well as Federal Election Commission filings, Securities and Exchange Commission filings,,, and Wikipedia.

Image sources: Rick Bowmer/AP, Gage Skidmore/Flickr

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