The funny thing is, Johnson’s eight years in the governor’s mansion, from 1995 to 2003, once seemed as unlikely as his presidential aspirations do now. When he ran for the first term, he had almost zero name recognition. His campaign cost $1.8 million, and $550,000 of that was his own money. He won the Republican nomination by 1 percent and ended up winning the general (with a third Green Party candidate) by 10 percent. Four years later, he was reelected with 55 percent of the vote.
Voters will tell you that the reason Johnson got reelected (and might still be in office if there hadn’t been term limits) was that he managed to improve the state while slashing the budget. He vetoed 750 spending bills, knew how to strong-arm the Democratic-controlled statehouse and senate, and reinvented the state agencies. He also signed a bill to let New Mexicans drive seventy-five miles per hour on highways, and another one to let them buy beer on Sundays. (“Why not? That’s a stupid rule. People can make their own decisions about what day of the week they want a beer.”) And when litter became a problem on the highways, he organized a bike race from one end of the state to the other in which, in his Pearl Izumi spandex, he led a flotilla of New Mexicans to collect the garbage.
One point that Johnson often makes—and that he argued passionately to CNN producers when they were wrangling over his exclusion from that critical debate in June, before Rick Perry joined the race—is “that there’s only one presidential candidate that’s viewed favorably in their own state. And that would be me. So what I said to CNN was, ‘You’re talking about a 2 percent threshold—which we can argue—but in the only place where I am known, I have this favorability rating. So shouldn’t that mean something? Isn’t a debate supposed to be about presenting all the candidates to the rest of the United States and let the people determine who they like and dislike?” (He likes to point out that Bill Clinton was also polling at 2 percent in the nascent stages of his first presidential campaign.)
Don’t you want him to be President? A real person with real solutions and real experience. Doesn’t take much to recognize how much good he could do for the U.S. (via rionner)