Newly minted Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson has already started to generate headlines. Now, he’s generating some sizable donations as well.
The Hill reports that the founder of the California tomato processing plant Morning Star, Chris Rufer, plans to donate over one million dollars to outside groups that support the Johnson campaign. For a party often relegated to the sidelines of presidential politics, this is a significant step forward in establishing legitimacy.
For all of the negative reactions libertarians had to Governor Johnson’s vice presidential pick, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld, it already appears that he’s aided the campaign not only in establishing credibility, but in bringing in the big bucks.
Governor Johnson largely tried to sell Weld to his libertarian audience on the claim that he wouldn’t be able to win, much less fundraise, without having the former governor on the ticket. Not even a week after Weld was locked in as VP, Johnson’s cashing in.
In an election cycle where both major parties have fielded candidates that stand as the antithesis to individual freedom, the Johnson-Weld ticket seems prepared to capitalize on the block of libertarian-minded voters who too often seem to find themselves without a political home.
While the Libertarian Party has often been home to the disaffected, it has struggled to gain traction among mainstream voters. However, the nomination of Donald Trump for the GOP may have inadvertently granted them a new constituency.
A growing #NeverTrump movement within the Republican Party, including former GOP standard-bearer Mitt Romney, could naturally settle on the Johnson-Weld ticket. The Libertarian Party proved at their convention that, in a contentious cycle, they could nominate respectable ex-governors and conduct themselves like a political party instead of an after-hours debate club.
Disillusioned Republicans have already been flocking to Libertarian Party in such a degree to avoid Trump that, per C-SPAN, the LP passed a resolution to give both him and Hillary Clinton a Liberty Outreach Award.
If more people like Mr. Rufer continue to legitimize this movement, as more and more polls start to include Governor Johnson, a ticket of two sensible ex-GOP governors could be too much to resist.
This isn’t to say that this voting block will drive Governor Johnson to victory. However, two candidates in the major parties with historically high negatives could cause many voters to give them a second look, even if it’s just as a protest vote.
If the Libertarian Party can follow through on the momentum they have started to develop, they could set themselves up as a force that could start deciding elections in the not-too-distant future. If they do a good enough job, one day they could actually start winning them.