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Gary Johnson to bolt GOP for Libertarians. Will his candidacy matter?

The planned move by Republican candidate Gary Johnson to seek the Libertarian nomination has been the topic of speculation for weeks. Would his third-party candidacy hurt the GOP?

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There was a place for a gadfly like Ross Perot in 1992, but most Republicans think he cost George H.W. Bush that election, Mr. Griffin says. People like Johnson “are malcontents, and frankly, they should go on book tour.”

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If Americans turn out to have more stomach for the idea than Griffin does, he adds, President Obama will be thrilled because they’d most likely draw votes away from his Republican opponent.

In the swing state of New Mexico, Johnson as a Libertarian would draw 20 to 23 percent support in a three-way race for president, with Obama at 44 to 45 percent, and Gingrich or Romney coming in second, at 28 percent and 27 percent respectively, according to a recent Public Policy Polling (PPP) New Mexico survey.

Johnson is a fiscal conservative who says that if he’s elected, he’ll present a balanced budget and end military intervention in Afghanistan. He wants to legalize and tax marijuana, and he supports gay marriage. He also supports abortion rights.

The Libertarian Party welcomes the news of Johnson’s switch, but still has a competitive process for its nomination.

“Governor Johnson appeals both to non-interventionists of all political parties (including independents), who are disappointed with President Obama’s wars in Afghanistan and Libya – as well as to fiscal conservatives who see most Republican candidates as agents of Big Government and high taxes – with the notable exception, of course, of Congressman Ron Paul,” Carla Howell, executive director of the National Libertarian Party, said in an e-mail to the Monitor.

Many are waiting to see if US Representative Paul, currently running strong in some states for the Republican nomination, might also seek the Libertarian nomination, to be decided in May. He won that nomination in 1988, but recently shrugged off the notion that he’d seek it again, commenting on the campaign trail in New Hampshire that Johnson’s decision was a good one.

Associated Press material was used in this story.

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