Libertarian candidates vie for presidential, VP nominations

Greg Nash, Getty Images

More than a dozen Libertarian presidential candidates are convening in Orlando this weekend to select a nominee to offer as an alternative to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Meet the candidates who hope to clinch that spot on Sunday, along with potential running mates:

Gary Johnson

The former Republican New Mexico governor is arguably the most well-known Libertarian hopeful running this cycle. Johnson ran as the party’s standard-bearer in 2012 and received nearly 1.3 million votes – less than 1 percent of all votes cast.

Four years later, he hopesthe party can make a larger footprint in this cycle’s presidential race.

{mosads}Johnson, who resigned earlier this year as head of a marijuana products company, is starting to be considered seriously enough that some polling organizations are including him in their surveys.

The party front-runner has received some fanfare from influential conservative, anti-Trump outlets including the Red State blog and National Review.

While marijuana legalization is a core issue for him, Johnson — like other Libertarian candidates — wants to limit the control of government.

“The most important issue to Gary Johnson is reducing the size of government dramatically,” spokesman John Vaught LaBeaume said.

But gaining traction will still be an uphill battle for Johnson.

He’ll need to overcome the financial hurdle with major campaigns costing upward of $1 billion. According to fundraising reports, he’s raised about $347,000 from January to April, but has only $15,000 in the bank.

And he’s several points away from reaching the debate threshold. Two polls this month found Johnson with 10 percent in a three-way contest with Clinton and Trump and a Monmouth University survey had him at 11 percent. He is the only Libertarian candidate included in any national poll.

In a recent interview, Johnson told The Hill that it’s critical for him to be included in future polls and doesn’t see much of a path for himself unless he can be on that stage alongside Trump and Clinton.

“There’s no way a third-party candidate can make a difference without being on that debate stage, and that’s impossible if they don’t include you in the polls,” he said.

Austin Petersen

The Missouri businessman, another prominent Libertarian, poses a credible threat to Johnson. He previously served as director of production for the Tea Party-aligned group FreedomWorks based in Washington, D.C.

His campaign gained some steam when longtime GOP strategist Mary Matalin, an adviser in both Bush administrations, threw her support behind Petersen this week. She changed her party affiliation from Republican to the Libertarian Party in early May, shortly after Donald Trump became the presumed nominee.

Like many Libertarians, Petersen believes in cutting taxes and reducing the size of the governmentand in turn boost personal liberties and spur economic growth.

But where Petersen splits from a majority of Libertariansis that he’san anti-abortionLibertarian.His campaign believes his stance puts him in the best position to siphon some Republican voters who feel disenfranchised from Trump.

“Austin is the only candidate in this race who stands a real chance of bringing in significant numbers of disaffected Republican voters,” spokesman Joe Trotter told The Hill.

“This is an election about swaying voters on the principles, and Austin is in the right place at the right time to capitalize on the frustration of having two progressive major party candidates,” he added.

Petersen faces a similar funding obstacle as Johnson, having raised only $40,000, with less than $6,000 on hand.

John McAfee

McAfee, who’s best known for creating the popular antivirus softwarebearing his name, has drawn unusual headlines for living life on the lam in Guatemala and openly discussing his past heavy drug use.

His campaign website disputes that he was listed as a suspect in the 2012 murder of his neighbor in Belize, whose investigators he was dodging by moving to Guatemala,and maintains that McAfee hasn’t used any recreational drugs in 35 years.

According to CNBC, McAffee was arrested in Tennessee last August for driving under the influence and possessing a handgun.

His website outlines his stances on a variety of issues that align with many Libertarians: He supports abortion rights, same-sex marriage and a non-interventionist foreign policy and favors abolishing the Federal Reserve.

McAfee hasn’t garnered the same attention as Johnson and Petersen, but he released a campaign video — with quick cuts and pulsing techno music –asking voters to buck the major political parties.

“Kill politics so it can be reborn,” reads text in the video. “Be a Libertarian.”

Another 15 candidates are also running for the White House.

Darryl Perry has been deeply rooted in the party and was the co-founder and co-chair of the New Hampshire Liberty Party, which formed in 2012.Perry’s website sats he has paid for rental cars with silver.

And he is the only candidate not to file with the Federal Election Commission because, the Libertarian Party’s website says, he “has chosen not to file, as a protest against the FEC, claiming that it lacks constitutional authority.”

Candidate Marc Allan Feldman wrote a blog item headlined “Kanye West, Be My Running Mate,” imploring the rap singer to “step up,” even using #StepUpKanye on Facebook.

Vice presidential candidates:

William Weld

While Libertarians don’t run as a ticket, Johnson hopes to team up with the former RepublicanMassachusetts governor as he seeks to be his running mate.

Both men served in Democratic strongholds and Johnson hopes that a Johnson-Weld ticket will boost fundraising.

Weld served as governor from 1991 to 1997 and helped fundraise for 2012 GOP nominee Mitt Romney.

“It brings an enormous amount of credibility to what it is I’m doing. I’m unbelievably flattered by thisand humbled,” Johnson told The Associated Press about the agreement to team up with Weld.

The former governors share common ground on economic and social issues, most notably civil liberties and gay rights.

“As governors, they were recognized as the most fiscally conservative governors respectively, so they clearly align on reducing the size, scope and cost of government,” Johnson spokesmanLaBeaume said.

Weld came under fire earlier this week for saying that Trump’s proposal todeport undocumented immigrants was like 1938’s Kristallnacht, when Nazi’s marched into towns destroying Jews’ property and synagogues.

But Johnson defended Weld, saying he “absolutely” stands by his potential running mate’s comment.

Judd Weiss

McAfee selected Weiss as his preferred running mate if he wins the nomination.

Weiss, a self-described “hustler” whose campaign URL is, said in 2010 that his “last steady salary job I had was scooping ice cream at Coldstones at 17.” He also claims to have worked in real estate and now photographs the Libertarian movement.

Will Coley:

Last month, Perry announced that he selected Coley as his potential running mate. The press release notes that Coley is a “Muslim academic and thought leader.” 

Coley’s bio page touts that he has worked with Libertarians around the globe.

Alicia Dearn:

Dearn, a trial lawyer and businesswoman, is another vice presidential candidate with Libertarian roots. Her campaign website says she served as general counsel to Johnson’s 2012 presidential campaign.

She said she moved to St. Louis, Mo., to headquarter her business there “for legal and tax reasons.”

Nine candidates are running to be vice president.

Tags Donald Trump Gary Johnson Hillary Clinton Libertarianism in the United States Roger Stone

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