When he was running for the Republican presidential nomination last year, Gary Johnson, the former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, drew ridicule from mainstream party members as he advocated legalized marijuana and a 43 percent cut in military spending.
Now campaigning as the Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee, Mr. Johnson is still only a blip in the polls. But he is on the ballot in every state except Michigan and Oklahoma, enjoys the support of a few small “super PACs” and is trying to tap into the same grass-roots enthusiasm that helped build Representative Ron Paul a big following. And with polls showing the race between President Obama and Mitt Romney to be tight, Mr. Johnson’s once-fellow Republicans are no longer laughing.
Around the country, Republican operatives have been making moves to keep Mr. Johnson from becoming their version of Ralph Nader, the Green Party candidate whose relatively modest support cut into Al Gore’s 2000 vote arguably enough to help hand the decisive states of Ohio and Florida to George W. Bush.
Republicans are trying pretty much everything they can think of to keep Johnson off the ballot, from hiring a private detective to look into his Pennsylvania ballot signature drive to “a surveillance operation into Mr. Johnson’s efforts over the summer to qualify for the ballot at the Iowa State Fair.”
And Johnson’s not the only threat. “[Team Romney] said they are keeping a keener eye on Virgil Goode of Virginia, a conservative Constitution Party candidate who is on the presidential ballot in Virginia and 28 other states,” the report tells us.
How are you going to use voter suppression to keep Republicans away from the polls and still win? Stealing elections just keeps getting more complicated. I’ll bet the GOP longs for the simpler times of 2000.