Gary Johnson Leads North Dakota Libertarians to Spotlight

BISMARCK – During this period where many Americans are questioning the two choices running for the post of President of the United States, another candidate has emerged for a third party run, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson.

Born and raised in Minot North Dakota, Johnson will run for a second time on the Libertarian Party ticket, which will be on the ballot this year in all 50 states. In 2012, Johnson received 1,275,971 votes in the general election for President.

The Libertarian Party of North Dakota is gearing up for the upcoming election as well, with candidates competing for top spots in Bismarck, such as Marty Riske for Governor, and Eric Olson for the ND State Treasurer post. In addition, the Party will offer Robert Marquett for U.S. Senate, and the outspoken Jack Seaman for U.S. House of Representatives.

In the past decade, The Libertarian Party of North Dakota has grown largely due to disenfranchised voters of both major political parties, with turnout for Libertarian candidates reaching new heights during the last two state elections. “More and more people across our state realize that by continually electing Republicans and Democrats we get more of the same from Washington, D.C.- more debt, more spending, more war, and less individual freedom,” stated Seaman.

For North Dakota voters, Johnson may take votes from both Donald Trump, and Hillary Clinton, describing his philosophy as “fiscally conservative” but also “socially liberal.” This tone may play up to the ever changing face of the Democratic-NPL, which has yet to gain a strong foothold in statewide politics. However, their party is getting more aggressive to raise awareness against their GOP challengers , “Donald Trump has propelled himself to leader of the Republican party by insulting women, veterans, minorities, and people with disabilities,” said Dem-NPL Executive Director Robert Haider.

Haider than takes a swing at a local rival, “Kevin Cramer enthusiastically supports Trump’s hurtful, misinformed rhetoric, but it’s bad for North Dakota and harmful to our country – that’s why North Dakota Democrats will support a candidate who fights for all North Dakotans. With the likes of Wayne Stenehjem and John Hoeven trying to have it both ways by somehow ‘supporting’ but not ‘endorsing’ Trump, North Dakotans are looking for principled leaders who believe that discrimination of any form is flat out wrong.”

Same ole’ political rhetoric in North Dakota eh?

The North Dakota Libertarian’s are focusing more on issues that not only effect the state but also the country, with Johnson recently chiming in on the Bakken, “whether North Dakota likes it or not, that’s our Saudi Arabia.. it’s huge, it really is huge. I don’t want to underplay that at all.”

Johnson and the Libertarian Party are cautiously in favor of fracking but quick to point out environmental dangers and the “enormous implications for our economy.” In addition, Johnson has also publicly called into question the health aspects of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in coal country, which may not bode well with voters in Western North Dakota.

Another topic the Libertarians are on the forefront of, is making marijuana legal nationwide, an effort Johnson would support if elected President.

“A couple of things about legalizing marijuana. Marijuana products, from a medicinal standpoint, directly compete with legal prescription drugs that kill 100,000 people a year. There has not been one documented death due to marijuana. So it’s a whole lot safer and arguably as effective. On the recreational side, I have always maintained that legalizing marijuana will lead to less overall substance abuse because people will find marijuana as such a safer alternative than everything else that’s out there — starting with alcohol… marijuana is safer than alcohol” stated Johnson.

Supporters of a ballot initiative campaign that would legalize marijuana for medical purposes in North Dakota generated about 17,600 signatures early this month, saying they were confident their efforts would put the issue to a statewide vote. “We only got about 80 percent of what we needed,” said Tony Mangnall, chairman of the North Dakota Libertarian Party, which endorsed the proposed initiative. “We’re gearing up for another run for 2018.”

The initiative also is similar to one that appeared on the statewide ballot in 2012 but was denied by the state Supreme Court, after Secretary of State Jaeger found evidence that some North Dakota State University football players forged signatures, after they were hired and paid to circulate the petition.

The initiative results did show growing support for legalizing marijuana in North Dakota, spotlighting a more Libertarian approach to the subject over hard-line state Republicans and Democrats.

“Our party membership has quintupled this year as voters discover how corrupt and inept the two entrenched parties area” Mangnall told the Dispatch. “We work hard to spread the message of minimum government, maximum liberty, and seeing how North Dakota is the state that Gary Johnson was born in, we are proud to be able to share this unique moment in political history with him.”

North Dakota native Gary Johnson may just carry that torch to the White House someday but as a state and a country, we still may be a bit off from a Libertarian utopia, we shall see this November.

[Filed by Piper Combs | The Dakota Dispatch]

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