Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, businessman Herman Cain and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson will face off in Greenville, S.C., in the Fox News-sponsored debate that begins at 9 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 5, 2011. I believe the two former governors and businessman are the ones to pay attention to because they have not been tainted with Potomac fever like the ones who are or have been a part of the inside the beltway mindset. Since I have already written a piece on Governor Tim Pawlenty I decided to offer some information about Governor Gary Johnson. The information I received is from multiple sources, and in Gary’s own words as much as I was able to obtain them.

A fitness fanatic who has participated in five Ironman triathlons, he defied all odds to win the New Mexico governor’s race in 1994 as a 42-year-old political virgin having never run for office. Johnson has climbed Mt. Everest. He twice defeated his Democratic opponent by 10 points in a state that is two-to-one Democratic. He funded his first campaign from his own fortune acquired when he sold, for $38 million, his construction company, which he started with one person: himself. As a student, Johnson worked as a handyman, leading him to start his own business, Big J Enterprises, which he grew into a multimillion-dollar plumbing corporation.

Johnson was married for 28 years to Denise “Dee” Simms, before he divorced her in 2005. She died in 2006. He had two children with Simms, daughter Seah and son Erik. He was raised Lutheran.

During his two terms, Governor Gary Johnson cut the 10 percent annual growth his state budget had been experiencing in half. He vetoed 750 bills, a third of them Republican, privatized government services and trimmed public-sector employee rosters. He lowered taxes and still exited with a tidy budget surplus. He earned the nickname Governor No.

Gary Johnson is a strong supporter of school choice and wants to get the federal government out of education. He would repeal Obamacare and advocates the general Republican program of market-based health-care reforms. He opposed TARP and vigorously opposes corporate welfare, including farm subsidies. He is pro-choice, though he opposes Medicaid or other taxpayer funding of abortion and his gubernatorial campaigns were endorsed by pro-life groups. He is comfortable with gay marriage.

Unlike Ron Paul, he is pro-choice (except for late-term abortions), pro-immigration, pro-trade, and untainted by bizarre conspiracy theories that NAFTA, and a highway running through Mexico, America, and Canada, is a prelude to the dissolution of the North American borders. Nor does he have Ron Paul’s racist newsletter baggage. His signature issues are not abolishing the Fed or returning to the gold standard. Rather, it is avoiding the impending financial collapse by cutting government spending on everything by 43 percent – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and defense.

Gary Johnson defends his embrace of immigration and opposition to the war on drugs, not on first principles but on fiscal grounds. As governor, he tackled the illegal immigration issue by demonstrating that illegals pay more in state taxes than they consume in services. Likewise, he emphasizes how the drug war sucks up massive law enforcement dollars without reducing use. I have to wonder, had he been the governor of California, if the same conclusion about illegals paying more in state taxes than they consume in services would have been reached.

Gary Johnson has issues with Paul Ryan’s plan – because it doesn’t go far enough. He proposes repealing George W. Bush’s Medicare prescription-drug benefit and including current seniors in changes to Medicare. He would reduce future Social Security benefits by changing the payment formula, indexing it to prices rather than to wages, and he is open to personal accounts. Overall, he calls for cutting government spending by $1.6 trillion this year to bring the budget into balance.

Gary Johnson opposed the Iraq war and calls for pulling out of Afghanistan. Gary Johnson supports the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign country and believes that the United States should protect that right militarily if needed. He champions smaller government, lower taxes, looser business regulations, and marijuana legalization. He’s often said his highest priority is balancing America’s federal budget.

Johnson has a surprisingly broad appeal, pitching to a potential base of Independents, fiscal conservatives, Libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans, even crossover Democrats and those disillusioned with Obama. He is an admirer of the tea party, and could attract some of the fiscally-conservative tea party core. Gary Johnson remains a very long shot for the Republican nomination. He lacks money and organization. His name recognition is nearly nonexistent.

So this is what I have found to report about Gary Johnson. There are protectionists, nativists, and prohibitionists who are never going to be able to support him for his positions on trade, immigration, and marijuana. From what I know about the current occupant of the White House and this former Governor of New Mexico, if the choice came down to the two of them I would not even hesitate in voting for Gary Johnson.

pilgrim
I am retired after 36 years of being a state of Indiana employee. I enjoy writing and reading conservative blogs.