Odd Man Out
Election night with the Libertarian presidential candidate
It's safe to say local Democrats had more fun at their election night shindig than their competitors. But the other kind of results watch party—with concession speeches, stiff upper lips and questions about what went wrong during the campaign—is not so long in the past for the Dems, either.
With our two-party political system, we're all on a seesaw. Rs up, Ds down, and vice versa. It makes for predictable election night stories. You're either at one party or the other. There are usually veggies and dip. And drinks.
Ex-Gov. Gary Johnson's gathering on Tuesday, Nov. 6, was different. The familiar snacks were in place on a banquet table. But the Libertarian presidential candidate wasn't cloistered inside a room at Hotel Albuquerque waiting to find out whether he'd won or lost. He'd lost. He knew that going in. Instead, he spent his time hanging out with a couple hundred supporters.
Those clusters of enthusiastic Libertarians didn't come from any particular demographic. They're hard to characterize or force into statistics. They'd campaigned for Johnson and cast their ballots against more of the same.
Johnson didn't do as well as anyone expected him to in the end. He took a paltry 3 percent of the vote in New Mexico. If he'd received 5 percent, the Libertarian Party would have become a major party in our state during the next election cycle. When Johnson first announced his candidacy, pundits suggested that number could hit the double digits here in his home state and wondered whether he'd pull more from President Obama or Mitt Romney.
"I thought we would have done better than what we did," Johnson told the Alibi in an interview. "We really saw things just evaporate at the end. I guess it has something to do with the election being pegged as so close." The presidential race, we know now, was not at all close. Obama took 332 electoral votes to Romney's 206.
"We really saw things just evaporate at the end. I guess it has something to do with the election being pegged as so close."
Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson
From the podium, Johnson's running mate asked the former governor to try again in four years. Judge James Gray—a conservative and longtime advocate for legalizing drugs—said their platform was the right choice in 2012 and will remain so in the future. "We just need to make this happen. And we will."
Johnson wouldn't reveal whether he'll be hitting the trail again for another run at the presidency. "This has just been so wearying. Everyone's so tired of presidential politics. So I don't even want to say."
His speech reiterated his talking points as the crowd cheered: "Roll back the police state. Stop the war. Stop the military intervention. Marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right. Repeal the Patriot Act." Righter than the right fiscally, and lefter than the left socially—that was the message of his campaign.
As Johnson left the stage, fervor was renewed as an audience member shouted the breaking news that Colorado had legalized marijuana. "This is going to change worldwide drug policy,” Johnson said. “This is going to do it.”