To the dismay of many Texans and of civil libertarians nationwide, after a dramatic struggle this week, the Texas legislature’s special session ended on a sour note with the defeat of Rep. David Simpson’s bill opposing invasive TSA searches of airline passengers.
The failure of the bill was made considerably more bitter by the underhanded tactics by which a tiny faction of the House leadership scuttled the bill against overwhelming support from both parties and the public. With all of the hard work put into promoting the bill by grassroots groups, its defeat under questionable circumstances has redirected anger originally aimed only at the TSA to political leaders in Texas, particularly House Speaker Joe Straus.
The story of how such a widely supported bill could end up not being passed is an object lesson of how easily the will of the people can be subverted by those who value power over principle.
During the regular legislative session Rep. Simpson’s anti-groping bill made it through the House of Representatives by unanimous acclamation . It was passed out of committee and onto to the floor of the Senate where it was set to pass when the TSA stepped in and lobbied against it and the Department of Justice issued a letter threatening to close Texas airports if it passed. This lead Lt. Governor David Dewhurst to apply his influence to get the bill which was minutes from passing pulled from the floor.
As the inevitable special session approached, Senator Dan Patrick and other supporters convinced the governor to come on board and support the bill and agree to sign it if they could get a pledge from a majority of the members of the House and Senate to support it. This would let them fast-track the bill through both houses and to the governor for his signature quickly without unduly delaying other legislation.
They got the votes. They notified the Governor’s office that they had the votes and they asked the Governor to call the bill for the special session. Governor Perry was out of town doing a pre-presidential tour and when confronted by a citizen journalist and asked about the bill he said that he was not aware that the necessary votes had been pledged, but when he returned to Austin on Sunday the 19th of June he did put the bill on the call for Monday the 20th.
Already a week had been wasted, but there was still time to pass the bill. Despite the Governor’s support, after the session began on the 20th the bill was not scheduled for consideration until the Friday the 24th, wasting more precious time. Then, when it was scheduled to be introduced on Friday, House Speaker Joe Straus made a public announcement that he thought the bill was a “publicity stunt” and not serious legislation, sending a clear message to his supporters to oppose it. This despite the fact that he had not voted against it in the regular session.
Nonetheless, a version of the bill was introduced in the House and another in the Senate with wording which had been edited by the Attorney General’s office to reduce the chances of the bill being contested in court and to satisfy complaints from Speaker Straus, but because of wrangling over the language any votes on the bill were delayed until Monday with the session scheduled to end on Wednesday.
With the Speaker apparently unwilling to advance the House version of the bill, desperate supporters in the Senate passed their version through committee and passed it on the floor in a matter of hours and sent it on to the House where the decision was made to use the Senate version as written to avoid the possibility that the Speaker would keep the House version off the floor.
The House session didn’t start until 2pm on Tuesday and when the messenger from the Senate arrived with the bill the Speaker’s office refused to accept the bill and it was kept waiting for several hours. This final delay guaranteed that passage of the bill would be extremely difficult because of Constitutional rules about how bills have to pass the House.
Under the Texas Constitution, for a bill to pass the House it has to be read and voted on three times, on three separate days and win each vote. At the point where the bill finally made it to the floor there was less than 24 hours left before the end of the session on Wednesday, so the only way to pass the bill was to hold a vote to suspend that constitutional rule to allow them to hold two of the three votes on the same day. Although there were plenty of votes in favor of the bill – enough to make up a supermajority – the vote to suspend the Constitutional rule required a 4/5 majority, and that was going to be very difficult.
The bill passed its first reading easily on Tuesday and then passed a second reading on Wednesday morning easily 106-27, but by the time the held a vote on the motion to suspend the constitutional rule some members had left and it passed with a 96-26 majority – an overwhelming vote in support of the bill, but not quite enough to meet the 4/5 requirement. Ironically the previous vote did meet that requirement, but it didn’t apply to that particular motion. At that point the bill which so many supported and which was enormously popular with the public, was dead.
Before adjourning the special session, the Speaker allowed Rep. Simpson to make a final speech about the bill and how the legislative process had failed so dismally. Simpson was not afraid to point fingers, saying:
“The people in support of this bill have succeeded in shining the light on those who collaborate with the growing tyranny of our federal government….Its’ defeat only propels the liberty movement in this state. The people now know that it is possible to fight back.”
His sentiments were echoed by a statement from the Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas, one of the grassroots groups which had made calls to legislators in support of the bill, which said “We may not have won the final victory today, but we sure flushed out the enemies hiding in the brush.” Another grassroots group, Stop Austin Scanners thought that Governor Perry should share the blame, citing Perry’s “failure to call the bill in a timely manner despite numerous requests to do so, his total lack of stewardship in the process, and Speaker Joe Straus’ willful misconduct are the principal reasons why the legislation was derailed.”
At every step Rep. Simpson and his allies did what was requested by the leadership. They amended the bill. They watered down the language. They even ultimately changed “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion” to give the Feds an easy out. Yet despite promises from Governor Perry, they were met with obstruction and delays from the Speaker at every step of the way. With two weeks to pass the bill they ended up having to try to pass it in two days with a special suspension of the rules requiting an outrageously large majority and creating the ironic outcome that a bill which passed easily with a 4/5 majority in the morning when it didn’t need it could not get that same majority in the afternoon when it did.
The defeat of the bill was not a complete loss. It raised awareness of the issue substantially and drew attention to the forces opposing it and exposed the heavy-handed tactics of the TSA. There’s also some evidence that Simpson’s bill helped influence the TSA’s recent decision to reduce the intensity of their searches of children, though it did not stop them from carrying out a horrendous and highly publicized abuse of a 95 year old Leukemia patient.
This fight is not over. The issue still draws great public interest and anger at the TSA and its practices has never been higher. Supporters in Texas promise to continue to pursue the issue and legislators in a growing number of additonal states are introducing similar legislation. People don’t like having their privacy invaded and their persons violated in the service of excessive security procedures which have never been proven to be at all effective. The people may have lost this battle, but the war is far from over.
New Hampshire Democrat Governor John Lynch announced that he will let a $10.2 billion, Republican-crafted budget for the state become law without his signature.
The Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire sent out a press release congratulating House Speaker William O’Brien and House Republicans for passing a responsible budget that completely reverses the course of previous legislatures and historically cuts spending in New Hampshire by 11.7 percent, setting state government on a new course to fiscal sanity.
The RLC endorsed over 80 of the current elected House members. That coalition, no doubt, has given the Republican House the backbone needed to tackle the budget, Right to Work, and a favorable business climate.
“There is no doubt that this budget is historically positive for the people of New Hampshire,” said Andrew Hemingway, chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire. “Speaker O’Brien and the House members we elected in November [did] exactly what they promised voters they would do by cutting taxes and spending without any budget gimmickry.”
The balanced $10.2 billion New Hampshire budget for Fiscal Years 2012-2013 relied heavily on House leadership’s position that budget writers could not exceed revenue projections. The Senate was only able to shift revenue projections by 0.4 percent from the House projections in January. At the same time, House leadership was also able to convince Senators not to raise new taxes, fees or add additional downshifting to the counties, cities or towns of the state. In fact, the House was even able to secure additional tax cuts to increase business traffic from out-of-state shoppers.
In general and education trust fund spending, the House was able to secure a $4.42 billion budget, a 12.8 percent decline from the previous cycle. The budget cut is the largest in modern history—maybe longer.
“As an organization that understands the principles that lead to the most prosperity for the most people involve less government spending, lower taxes and fewer bureaucrats enforcing senseless regulations, we are looking at this budget as the first gleam of light from a new dawn of common sense governing,” Hemingway said. “I expect the voters of New Hampshire to respond quite favorably to the principled stand taken by House Republicans, and against the scare tactics and deception of those who would prefer politics as usual.”
Not only did this budget historically reduce appropriations by about $1 billion in all funds and $467 million in general funds, it also eliminated 1,500 unneeded government positions (most of them unfilled, anyway), and it reduced some of the more onerous taxes and fees instituted by the Democrats when they were in power, such as the surcharge on auto registrations. The budget also included comprehensive reforms to the State Retirement system—the first step toward eliminating an unrealistic system that taxpayers can no longer afford.
At the same time, the House compromise budget fully funds education by sending $4 million more than the governor’s budget and 9.5 percent more than the current budget to the local cities and towns. As recognition that restorative change takes time, the budget also funds Health and Human Services programs for the developmentally disabled, children in need of services, children with special needs, domestic violence programs and adoption subsidies, while also prohibiting the use of taxpayers’ money for abortions.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
The Republican Party has been handed many opportunities by the need to redraw congressional districts on the basis of the 2010 census. Some strong Republican states like Texas have grown substantially, offering the opportunity for several new seats for Republicans in Congress. Other states lost population, leaving Republican lawmakers with difficult decisions and scrambling to hold onto gains made in the 2008 election.
This situation has the potential to reverse some of the gains made by grassroots candidates supported by groups like the tea parties and the Republican Liberty Caucus who brought many new Republicans into the House of Representatives last fall, some of them in states which are losing seats in redistricting and are controlled by very small Republican majorities in their state legislatures.
Early indications are that in states where Republicans face redistricting losses the priorities of the establishment lawmakers in those states and the interests of the people of the states who brought the party gains in the last election are drastically out of sync and as they redistrict, party leaders seem poised to do a lot of harm to their relationship with the grassroots activists who are becoming increasingly necessary if they want to keep winning elections.
Early indications are that the inclination of state party leaders is to solve tough redistricting challenges by sacrificing newly elected candidates favored by the grassroots in order to strengthen the positions of establishment incumbents who are not nearly as popular with grassroots voters. The superficial benefits of this strategy for the party elite may quickly be outweighed by the backlash from activists who are not pleased with the way the Republican Party is run and just need a little nudge like this to start challenging large numbers of Republican incumbents in party primaries.
The first stand-out example of this problem appears to be over redistricting in Michigan and the fate of its recently elected third district representative, Justin Amash. Amash won a strong victory in a mixed district. Since his election he has been one of the most followed freshman congressmen and one of the most politically consistent in his adherence to the fiscal conservatism and constitutional principles which characterized the anti-establishment uprising on the right in 2010. Amash has not exactly been a clone of Ron Paul, but he exhibits the same adherence to principle over party and this makes the party leadership kind of nervous.
In his short term in office Amash has won even more support from his constituents by making himself unusually accessible, sponsoring innovative legislation including a new constitutional amendment to balance the budget, and even posting explanations of every vote he makes to his Facebook page. Amash has been singled out as one of the best new congressmen by conservative groups and even received praise from the libertarian press. He’s also angered Democrats in his district who have launched several recall petitions against him, another sign he is doing what his radical supporters want. He is in many ways the model of the kind of new political leader which the reawakened base of the political right wants to see in Washington.
Yet Amash’s popularity and success are apparently of little interest to party leaders in Michigan. When the state’s House Redistricting Committee met this week the redistricting map which they were given for approval by the state Senate would make it very difficult for Amash to win reelection while protecting and strengthening the districts of other more establishment-friendly legislators like Thaddeus McCotter, Bill Huizinga, Fred Upton and Dave Camp. It even helps solidify the districts of some Democrat incumbents like John Dingell.
The specific threat to Amash is that parts of his district had to be removed to strengthen the districts of more favored Republicans, replaced by areas which are more evenly balanced between the parties. This includes giving several towns and suburbs where he won very strong majorities in 2010 to the neighboring 2nd District held by Bill Huizinga and replacing them with parts of Calhoun county which have traditionally voted Democrat. They also moved the home of popular Democrat former representative Mark Schauer into Amash’s district, giving the Democrats a ready made challenger for the young radical.
The reasoning behind this may be that the libertarian-leaning Amash has the ability to win more independent and crossover votes than an establishment Republican, but it also means that Amash faces a much closer election, has to spend more time fundraising and campaigning, and will therefore be less effective in Congress this year if he wants to remain there after next November. Party leaders are not engineering a guaranteed loss for Amash, but they are dumping as many of their problems as they can in his district while smoothing the way for their cronies, leaving Amash to deal with their mess.
Any redistricting effort is always a series of trade-offs, and with Michigan losing one of their congressional seats the division of the remaining voter base to keep Republicans in power has to be tricky. One Democrat will clearly be out of office, but the other outcome is that the mix of Republicans may be different and Amash could very well no longer be part of the Michigan delegation. I doubt that they actively want Amash to lose, but they are putting most of the pressure and most of the risk of the election on Amash, almost offering him as a sacrificial lamb to the Democrats so that if the Democrats have a surge in 2012 and Republicans have to lose one district it will be Amash who gets voted out, not someone less principled and better connected.
Of course, if I had to pick one Republican to win against these odds with little support from his state party establishment, it would be Justin Amash. His appeal transcends the limits of the Republican Party and goes directly to disaffected and independent voters who understand that a representative with his firm principles and dedication to serving the public is worth a lot more than the R or D after their name.
No matter the outcome, this little example of how party insiders use redistricting to protect their own at the expense of those whose main allies are the grassroots voters, is a warning which every candidate and political activist ought to keep in mind when deciding where to put their support in 2012. Amash and others like him still need and deserve our support while party leaders continue to earn our disregard and disapproval by their self-serving actions. Justin Amash serves his constituents and the interests of the American people. Those who are working against him within his own party are only serving their own interests.
Evidence against June 13 GOP debate sponsors CNN, WMUR, and the New Hampshire Union-Leader continues to mount as they persist in excluding former two-term Republican Governor Gary Johnson from the Manchester, New Hampshire debate.
WMUR and the Union-Leader have been inundated with calls and e-mails from concerned Americans, many complaining that they are embarrassing the state of New Hampshire and jeopardizing its status as a first in the nation primary state.
And now Johnson supporters recently released a video targeting CNN:
HOPE AND CHANGE
Johnson’s supporters are hosting a MoneyBomb for his campaign in conjunction with the debate, and cries for inclusion have come from different corners of the political spectrum — ranging from Willy Nelson to the gay conservative group GOProud.
Additionally, there is hope for Johnson supporters:
CNN tried to keep former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel out of the June 3, 2007 Democratic presidential debate, but his supporters flooded CNN/WMUR/Union-Leader with requests and their decision was eventually reversed. Mike Gravel was able to debate.
The specific criteria CNN and the other outlets are using to justify the exclusion of Governor Johnson also doesn’t add up. The first requirement for inclusion in CNN’s debate is that the individual be “a candidate,” but some of the invitees not only are not candidates (Michele Bachmann), but haven’t even taken a single official step toward becoming one (Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Sarah Palin). CNN’s own definition of a potential invitee is “a candidate”.
CNN selectively used versions of polls that included the names of spoiler non-candidates (such as Palin and Giuliani) in its listed criteria. Despite excluding other polls, Gov. Johnson does qualify for the June 13 debate under the “2.00% average of three polls in the month of May” category.
In the May 27 CNN poll, three different surveys were taken: One including spoiler non-candidates Giuliani and Palin, one including spoiler non-candidate Palin (but not Giuliani), and one including neither Giuliani nor Palin. In the survey that did not include the two spoiler non-candidates (who, as non-candidates, were not eligible for invitations anyway, under CNN’s objective criteria), Gary Johnson earned 2%.
In the May 26 Gallup poll, two different surveys were taken: One including spoiler non-candidate Palin, and one not including spoiler non-candidate Palin. In the survey that did not include the spoiler non-candidate, Johnson earned 3%.
Finally, in the May 4 Quinnipiac poll, only one survey was taken, and Johnson earned 1%.
So the May Johnson poll results using CNN’s poll sources are: 2 + 3 + 1 divided by 3, which equals 2%. View the poll data compiled here.
A Johnson supporter explains the math for all you visual learners:
GOP Presidential candidate Fred Karger explains how the CNN/WMUR/NH Union-Leader debate has been problematic from the very beginning. Says Karger, “The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is very clear on the rules governing debates stating that, ‘The organization staging the debate must select the candidates based on pre-established objective criteria.’ CNN’s criteria is objective, but was the criteria pre-established?” The following evidence was collected by Mr. Karger:
1) Invitations were sent to Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Mitch Daniels, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Jon Huntsman, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump. When were the invitations sent?
2) Were the invitations sent out on a rolling basis, rather than after the criteria period closed? Donald Trump was invited, but he announced he would not run on May 16, 2011. Mike Huckabee was invited, but he announced he would not run on May 14, 2011. Haley Barbour was not invited. Barbour met the criteria after the April 22, 2011 release of a Gallup poll. Haley Barbour announced he would not run on April 25, 2011.
3) Jon Huntsman: Jon Huntsman did not meet the polling criteria until he received 4% in the UNH poll, which was released on May 23, 2011 at 5pm (pdf). Jon Huntsman announced he would not participate in the debate on May 27, 2011. In the three full days between 5pm May 23, 2011 and May 27, 2011, Jon Huntsman would have needed to receive an invitation from the debate sponsors and have decided to decline that invitation.
4) Herman Cain: Herman Cain announced on or before May 24, 2011 that he would attend the NH debate. When was he invited? Herman Cain met the criteria on April 28, 2011.
5) Rudy Giuliani: Rudy Giuliani qualified on May 4, 2011, when the UNH Survey Center released its Granite State Poll. When was he invited?
6) Polling firms excluded: Why did the criteria exclude the following polling firms: Rasmussen, Zogby, Public Policy Polling and Suffolk — all of whom conducted national polls on the Republican 2012 primary during April and May 2011?
7) Debate Date Moved: The Debate was originally set for June 7th, but was rescheduled to June 13th. The decision to change the debate date was announced on April 27, 2011. Why was the date moved?
8.) UNH Survey Center Polls: When were the UNH Survey Center’s two polls about the 2012 Republican primary (which came out in May 2011) commissioned? Were they commissioned prior to April 1, 2011 (the beginning of the criteria period)? It is important to note that in May 2007, the UNH Survey Center did not conduct any polls about the Republican primary.
The 2007 debate was also hosted by CNN, WMUR TV and the New Hampshire Union Leader. In this debate there were 10 participants: Sam Brownback, Jim Gilmore, Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Tommy Thompson. The pre-established objective criteria for this debate was never released; however, by 2011 standards, it would have been a 6-man debate. During April and May of 2007, Jim Gilmore, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Tommy Thompson did not average 2% on three national polls.
If the same criteria was applied 4 years ago, UNH Survey Center polling would have excluded Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Jim Gilmore and Ron Paul, all of whom would not have met (.pdf) a 2% polling criteria.
Please take five minutes to contact CNN, WMUR, and the NH Union-Leader and demand that Gary Johnson is included in their June 13 GOP debate.
A former Republican Governor should automatically gain inclusion in a GOP debate. It’s really that simple.
For WMUR, call 603-669-9999 or email them; for the NH Union-Leader, call 603-668-4321 (redirect to the Newsroom) or email them; for CNN, call 404-827-1500 or text CNN (space) and your news tip.
A variety of individuals and groups are calling for Johnson’s inclusion in the June 13 debate. A sampling of comments is found below.
“The decision to exclude Gary Johnson is completely out of step with the spirit of the New Hampshire primary. We endorse an open political process that keeps New Hampshire special. We respectfully request that the debate partners — CNN, WMUR, and the New Hampshire Union-Leader — reconsider this decision and welcome Gov. Johnson to the June 13th debate.” – David Hurst Chairman, New Hampshire Young Republicans
“When any media outlet decides they are the judge of a “viable” candidate, such as the denial of Governor Gary Johnson (in a GOP debate at St. Anselm’s College Monday), at that point they are usurping the voter’s right to choose a candidate. I say shame on any news agency putting itself in a position to decide which candidate is worthy for America to hear. Just on the face of this issue it seems un-American.” – Jerry DeLemus Chairman, Granite State Patriots Liberty PAC
“Man, Gary Johnson’s supporters are dedicated, and unrelenting.”
– Jeff Winkler
Columnist, The DailyCaller
“GOProud has significant policy differences with Governor Johnson, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. However, we believe strongly that Governor Johnson deserves to be included and that Republican primary voters’ best interest would be served by having his voice in this important debate.” – Jimmy LaSalvia Executive Director, GOProud
“CNN appears to be aiding and abetting the attempted overturning of gay marriage in one of the five states where it is legal. CNN should lead the way and open up its debate to all serious Presidential candidates, not just some.” – Fred Karger (who also wants to be included in the debate) GOP Presidential candidate
On Thursday afternoon I’ll be a guest on the Debate Day Moneybomb for the Ron Paul 2012 campaign. I’m lucky enough to be appearing during the segment hosted by noted liberty pundit Wes Messamore and we’ll be talking about Ron Paul, liberty issues and the upcoming debate.
I’m on at 2pm (EST) and you can tune in on the runronpaul.com website. I’m in the honored slot right after Dr. Paul himself and I’m the lead-in for Adam Kokesh. There will be other interesting guests from 9am (EST) up until the start of the debate on Fox at 9pm (EST).
And if you’re watching the debate, come to the RLC website and you can join RLC members and special guests for an online event where we’ll be discussing the debates live and then have a post-mortem after the debate wraps up with a special guest.
Keep fighting for liberty,
Republican Liberty Caucus
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
The important Republican Party primary process has begun and two candidates with unapologetic libertarian leanings have entered the Republican field: the elder statesman-country doctor Ron Paul and the former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson.
The case has been made that you should support both candidacies by leaders in the liberty movement including Nick Gillespie and Peter Schiff. Ultimately, you can only cast one primary vote.
Conventional wisdom supports the notion that Congressman Paul has the organization and fan base to compete. There’s no denying that he has an impeccable ability to fundraise and a fervent fan base. Whether these items will translate to votes is a different matter entirely.
What are the differences between these candidates, who should you pick, and why?
Gary Johnson started a company from scratch in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1971. The business, Big J Enterprises, eventually grew to employ over 1,000 New Mexicans when he sold it in 1999. It is still among the largest job creators in the state. The Big J way — Gary Johnson’s approach — is simple. He lays it out in his forthcoming book, “The Seven Principles of Good Government.”
His first principle is to become reality-driven. Gary Johnson gathers data, analyzes it, and determines the costs and the benefits. While governing, it’s no surprise that Governor Johnson weighed the costs and benefits of government programs and ultimately made the tough choices that were unpopular with special interest groups and partisans, but created a period of unmatched economic prosperity for New Mexico.
Johnson’s second and third principles are to be honest to all people and always do what’s right. Numerous people have told me that Governor Johnson should simply “switch” his position on the abortion issue to gain popularity, but that would be a far cry from honest. As Governor, Gary Johnson supported legislation that banned late term abortions and allowed parental notification for minors seeking an abortion. He was not only endorsed by the Right to Life Committee, but he also signed on as a supporter to every bill supported by New Mexico Right to Life. President Johnson would appoint judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade, believing that states should make their own determinations on the controversial and personal question. He also supports a woman’s right to make a decision during the early stages of pregnancy, making him personally pro-choice — a position also held by libertarian Republican hero Barry Goldwater.
Living his fourth principle — determine a goal, develop a plan, and act — he emerged from obscurity to win the primary and general elections when the deck was stacked against him. In his recent article “The Guy That Barack Obama Should Worry About,” author Brian Ross, a journalist who was living in Santa Fe in the ‘90s, observed that Johnson won in part by going “after the old-boy political machine” — a necessary piece of the victory puzzle. Johnson introduced himself to the Republican Party, was told he had no chance to win the primary, won, and then went on to win the general election by 10 points.
He won, in part, because of his fifth principle: Communicate to your audience. A recent op-ed from a New Mexico newspaper (El Defensor Chieftain) opined, “In these times of the coached, coiffed and vacuum-sealed candidate with the entourage of handlers and spinners, the candidate who manages to be just himself is a breath of fresh air. His message will appeal to independent-minded Republicans, Independents and anybody else who’s fed up.”
This principle will help Johnson in early GOP primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, which require candidates to actually have conversations and sell themselves to primary voters. Governor Johnson is going to take the time to meet with people one on one. He is able to connect with those he talks to and can convince people through conversation to embrace the liberty message. After all, connecting with people is what allowed Governor Johnson to succeed in business and in state politics.
Principle six for Governor Johnson goes along with his direct nature: Don’t hesitate to deliver bad news. Governor Johnson has zoned in on the debt issue and has made it his signature issue. Every speech he gives hones in on how 43 cents of every dollar the federal government spends must be cut. He hammers at the debt problem and delivers the bad news with the optimism that our economic woes can improve — with the same libertarian solutions he implemented in New Mexico from 1994 to 2003.
Gary Johnson’s seventh and final principle: Do what it takes to get the job done. Johnson has invested the last year and half to meet with liberty activists and concerned Americans all across the country. He is determined to have his voice heard in the 2012 debate and insists he would not be running if he didn’t have something to add to the race.
You’ve already met Congressman Paul. Here are Governor Johnson’s comparative advantages, as I see them:
Both Paul and Johnson have the same policy prescription at the federal level regarding abortion: get the government out of the issue. They largely agree on economic policy, with both subscribing to the Austrian school of economic thought — but there is variation. Unfortunately, Paul opposes NAFTA, while Johnson supports it. Congressman Paul is one of the most aggressive earmarkers in Congress, even while often — though not always — voting against the final versions of the bills in which the earmarks are placed. Both support auditing and abolishing the Federal Reserve, although Paul has made it his signature issue. Both candidates support the repeal of the income tax and replacing it with nothing, the flat tax, or the Fair Tax. Johnson favors term limits for politicians at the state and federal levels, while Paul does not.
Regarding foreign policy, Paul supporters have argued that Governor Johnson supports “humanitarian wars,” which I previously explored and refuted. Both candidates have opposed all recent interventions — Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya — but Johnson says we should assist foreign nations in select cases where genocide is occurring. He recently stated that he supports keeping Guantanamo open because prisoners would have to be kept somewhere else if it was closed. His statement did not discuss the treatment of those being held, despite misleading attempts by Johnson critics to insinuate otherwise. Recently, Gary Johnson clarified his stance on Guantanamo:
“- No criminal or terrorist suspect captured by the U.S. should be subject to physical or psychological torture. This includes water-boarding and other interrogation techniques that may yield inaccurate information or permanently damage a suspect. Likewise, no criminal or terrorist suspect captured by the U.S. should be transferred to foreign agents who may resort to treatment methods deemed cruel and unusual by the U.S.
- Individuals incarcerated unjustly by the U.S. should have the ability to seek compensation through the courts.
- The detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba must be closed after all detainees have been tried by courts that presume innocence before guilt.”
It’s interesting to note that four of the aforementioned issues of disagreement — earmarks, term limits, Israel, and Guantanamo — are areas where Congressman Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul, agrees more with Gary Johnson than his father.
Gary Johnson entered politics for the first time in 1994. After approaching the GOP about the gubernatorial nomination, he was told he should run for the legislature. Undeterred, he instead spent his own savings to promote his common sense, business approach to government. His platform emphasized tax cuts, job creation, halting the growth of state government, and a tough line on law and order. His campaign slogan was “People Before Politics”. He first won the primary against a state legislator and subsequently won the General Election against incumbent Democratic Governor Bruce King, 50% to 40%. Party registration in the state of New Mexico at the time was 2-to-1 Democrat.
While serving in office, Governor Johnson vetoed 200 of 424 bills put in front of him in the first six months — 48% of all legislation — and used the line-item veto on most of the remaining bills. According to former New Mexico Republican National Committee member Mickey D. Barnett, “Any time someone approached him about legislation for some purpose, his first response always was to ask if government should be involved in that to begin with.” This was not only because of Johnson’s personal principles, but also in keeping with his campaign promise of approaching government from the perspective of costs versus benefits. In 1995, he called on the Republicans in Congress to eliminate the budget deficit through proportional cuts from the entire federal budget .
Hear Johnson’s approach in this recent interview with CNN:
In 1998, Governor Johnson ran for re-election against Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez. He campaigned on continuing the programs of his first term: improving schools while cutting state spending, taxes, and bureaucracy, along with using “common sense” veto power to rein in on waste. Fielding a strong Hispanic candidate in a 40% Hispanic state, Democrats expected to oust Johnson, but he won 55%-45%, illustrating his broad support base among independents, fiscally conservative Democrats, voters of different ethnic backgrounds, and Republicans.
Johnson proposed wide-ranging tax cuts — repealing a tax on prescription drugs, cutting income taxes by $47 million, and cutting the state gasoline tax by six cents per gallon. He set state and national records for his use of veto powers, vetoing nearly 750 bills (not including thousands of line-item vetoes), gaining him the nickname “Governor Veto.” He also worked diligently in his second term to implement a school voucher system, which never occurred due to inaction from the legislature. In 1999 and again in 2000, he proposed the largest school voucher system in the country to enroll 100,000 students in its first year.
Congressman Paul has run numerous campaigns from the mid-1970s to present, so there’s no doubt he’s an experienced campaigner – having won election eleven times. In addition to losing the U.S. Senate race against Phil Gramm in the early 1980s, Congressman Paul also lost two Congressional races, one in the mid-1970s and another in the late-1970s. He has also only won election in his Lake Jackson/Victoria area district in Texas (whose district number was changed various times over the years), where citizens largely already agree with him on policy issues and the population is roughly 650,000 and far less diverse than New Mexico’s population, both in terms of ideology and ethnic background. Johnson, by contrast, campaigned in a state of 1.9 million people in a majority Democrat area and a majority-minority (non-white) state. Johnson’s electoral successes illustrate a strikingly broad appeal.
While Dr. Paul has stayed true to principle, he has been far less effective in the legislative process, i.e., his attempts to pass legislation have not been successful. He now chairs the House Subcommittee overseeing the Federal Reserve, which is a long-awaited and well-deserved recognition of the popularity of his views on the Fed resulting from the 2008 campaign.
Governor Johnson is a tested candidate, since he had to actually run the state of New Mexico. He did it with tremendous courage and conviction, proving that he can be trusted to follow through on campaign promises and is committed to principle.
Selling the Message and Growing the Movement
Who is attracted to the messages being sold by Congressman Paul and Governor Johnson?
There’s no concrete data as of yet, but Johnson has a history of attracting moderates, fiscally conservative Democrats, Republicans (of course), Independents, and white and non-white voters. This is a broad base of potential supporters.
The goal of both campaigns is to grow the movement (and hopefully win election). Governor Johnson is best suited to do that because most GOP primary voters and 2012 GOP debate watchers will have already heard Congressman Paul’s message. By supporting a new messenger with a different approach to selling the message, there is a tremendous opportunity to turn more people on to libertarian principles.
Additionally, who do we want to sell the liberty message at the grassroots level? Johnson can attract new and different voices, such as women, gays, and Hispanics into the Republican Party and the liberty movement. Given the growing Hispanic population in our country, this demographic will be an important factor in future electoral successes, and Johnson has a proven track record of gaining their support.
“Gary Johnson has no name recognition,” some Paul supporters chant. Neither did Ron Paul when I first became active in his campaign in January, 2007. Fortunately, the first GOP Presidential debate is on Thursday, so Johnson will have the opportunity to increase his name recognition.
The GOP debates and the 2008 campaign dramatically increased Congressman Paul’s name ID and the same can hold true for Johnson in 2012. Given the age difference between Dr. Paul — who is 75 — and Governor Johnson — who is 58 — it’s very reality-based (using a Johnson principle) to assist the former Governor increase his name identification for not only his 2012 campaign, but also for future endeavors.
Most importantly, it is key to have a leader who can run in future elections should 2012 not be the year Americans embrace our message.
In addition to the vocal conspiratorial-minded supporters who are a challenge when trying to make a dent in electoral politics, Paul also has two items of baggage which his opponents in the primary or in the general election are going to raise to attack him.
First, he has not addressed criticisms in the media about accepting money from known white supremacists like Don Black, who donated $500 to the Paul 2008 campaign. Mr. Black was the former Grand Wizard of the KKK. It seems that keeping his $500 would have been less important than sending a message opposing Black’s views by rejecting that donation. That would have been a smart move for a campaign focused on winning.
Second, the media is not on Paul’s side and they gleefully targeted him for harassment and marginalization in 2008 because of material published in the Ron Paul newsletter. Those attacks have not been answered effectively and will be raised against Paul again in this campaign. These newsletter articles appeared under Paul’s name and included racist comments which clearly do not reflect his beliefs. They implied that blacks were more likely to commit crimes than whites as well as rants against the Israeli lobby, gays, AIDS victims and Martin Luther King, Jr., who is described as a “pro-Communist philanderer.” While Congressman Paul did not write or approve the articles before they were published, it is inevitable that they will be used against him again because he has not identified the author or held him responsible.
Given that Paul’s general election opponent would be Barack Obama, if Paul makes it through the primary his general election campaign might be over before it even begins when the media starts to play up these two items of baggage.
In comparison, Governor Johnson has relatively little controversial baggage. One issue that has been brought up is that he and his wife divorced in 2005 — which is true — and his then ex-wife passed away in late 2006 of hypertensive heart disease. Governor Johnson’s two adult children both support his 2012 Presidential campaign, so there isn’t any issue here except that the Johnsons divorced. It has also been mentioned that Governor Johnson is not presently married. While true, Governor Gary Johnson is engaged to be married.
The last time a member of the House of Representatives was elected President was James Garfield in 1880. It’s more likely that a former Governor would be elected President, and someone with real business and executive experience can more easily expose Obama’s unsuitable credentials. As I noted above, early primary state voters identify with candidates who are willing to meet with them and discuss issues in a face to face setting.
Congressman Paul is in impeccable shape and his mind is sharp. However, the fact is that he is in his mid-70s. Age combined with his responsibility to his district and in Congress require travel between DC and Texas — a lot. This reality makes it less likely that Congressman Paul will campaign for weeks at a time in key states like New Hampshire or South Carolina. By contrast, Governor Johnson is invested in the 2012 campaign, is unconstrained by a current elected position, and appears to have tremendous focus on making a dent in the New Hampshire primary.
Johnson has yet to be formally introduced to the GOP electorate nationwide, but when he is, I suspect he will be considered among the most likable of 2012 hopefuls. As John Avlon writes in The Daily Beast,
“In Johnson, libertarians might have their most accomplished modern advocate — a proven vote getter with demonstrated crossover appeal, a self-made millionaire and iron-man competitor who supports marijuana legalization (and let’s be honest, that libertarian plank has always been a source of the movement’s popularity on college campuses). More importantly, he has actually reined in government spending as an executive — leaving his successor a budget in the black.”
If your first choice and mainstream Republican Party members’ second choice — a position that Governor Tim Pawlenty, “everyone’s backup choice”, seems to be holding at the moment — then Johnson can do very well in 2012. Based on likability alone, Johnson’s chances are promising given the lackluster field. Even if he doesn’t win in 2012, he could run in the future — something that would be less likely for Congressman Paul due to his age.
Having two pro-liberty GOP contenders is better than having just one. In these two men we are fortunate enough to have candidates who will not talk negatively about each other, who believe in our message, and who can speak to different constituencies.
In Governor Johnson you find a man with clear principles, integrity, entrepreneurial, and executive experience. And he even climbed Mount Everest with a broken leg.
Our government is broken and people need their faith restored in the American dream, so look “big picture” when choosing a candidate.
Which messenger can help us restore in liberty now and in the future?
I urge you to let Gary Johnson sell palatable libertarian solutions to America so we can once again be a free people.
Without support from liberty-minded activists, Johnson’s campaign won’t be able to reach these folks with the liberty message, so get involved today.
Aaron Biterman was involved in the early stages of the Ron Paul 2008 campaign, participating in a conference call with Dr. Paul and the Republican Liberty Caucus in January, 2007 and subsequently creating the Ron Paul 2008 Facebook group that eventually gained more than 80,000 members during the campaign.
He has been active Republican politics since 2004. He is an Advisory Board member of the Northern Virginia Tea Party and writes for The Tea Party Review, the only print publication of the Tea Party movement. Send him mail.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
On April 21st, from the shadows of the New Hampshire state capitol building, as well as the national political scene, Gary Johnson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President in 2012. Just four days later, it became known that Ron Paul was forming an exploratory committee, a first step in a process that almost certainly will end in an official presidential run. This back-and-forth is in many ways emblematic of the growing divide between supporters of Johnson and Paul.
Many of us saw this coming. There is this underlying perception that the liberty movement ain’t big enough for the both of ‘em. Each side is concerned that the other candidate will hurt their candidate’s chances to win the GOP nomination. I believe it is from this that all other debates stem. Don’t get me wrong; each side has raised legitimate points, but fear of the harm the “other” candidate will do is what is making the disagreements personal. I want to address the concerns in hopes that I can help quell the personal and divisive nature of Johnson v. Paul 2012.
It is somewhat true that the presence of multiple libertarian candidates will to a certain extent split the vote. The Paul supporters will claim that Johnson is stealing former and potential Paul supporters. While it is true that this has and will occur, Johnson supporters can just as easily make the claim that Paul will be stealing potential Johnson supporters because Johnson was the first to announce his candidacy. Come to think of it, Ron Paul has yet to announce he is running for president. This is nothing more than jejune bickering, and it needs to stop.
Though there is a semblance of truth to it, the vote-splitting concern is a little overblown. Each candidate that enters the race is going to siphon votes from the most ideologically similar candidates. This is the nature of primaries, and as each candidate drops out of the race, most of the votes that had gone to him or her will be divided among the remaining candidates. If at some point Johnson or Paul decides to drop out of the race, I believe it is almost a certainty that one will endorse the other; that will give the remaining candidate an observable boost, which will at least promote the perception of momentum. If neither candidate drops out of the race, the result would be two prominent libertarian voices in the Republican race.
And isn’t that what all of this is about? Ron Paul’s 2008 race has been an immeasurable boon to the liberty movement. If we are to look seriously at that run, though, it was never about winning. Dr. Paul has made it clear he has little if any desire to actually become president. If he does officially run for president in 2012, it will be a reluctant response to public pressure. Ron Paul ran as a message candidate in 2008, and he’s going to be doing the same thing in 2012. The RealClearPolitics aggregate poll has Paul polling at 6% right now. While I would not suggest it is impossible for Ron Paul to win in 2012, starting out with that low of a number does not bode well for victory.
Gary Johnson will be doing the same thing in 2012. This election cycle will be for Gary Johnson what 2008 was for Ron Paul. This effect would be greater if Paul ultimately decided not to run, but in either case Gary Johnson is not going to win in 2012. For Johnson, this is more about 2016 than it is about 2012. Given the political reality that neither is going to win, there should be no reason to attack either one of them for ruining the cause or whatever other ridiculous allegations are being said. When you are a message candidate, you want your message to be as loud as possible, and two voices are louder than one.
Both Johnson and Paul supporters should welcome the other candidate because of this. Paul supporters should think back to the 2008 debates (well, the ones in which Ron Paul was actually allowed to participate). Do you remember the ostracism and general disrespect with which Dr. Paul was treated? He was cast aside as a lone kook rambling on about the Fed and other crazy things. That’s an easy thing to do when only one candidate is speaking the words that are being dismissed as looney. If you add another candidate to the mix saying the same thing, it adds credibility to the message of both. In a sense, Johnson and Paul need each other to be taken seriously.
It is my sincere hope that these reasons will lessen the infighting that so often plagues the liberty movement. In Part II of this article, I will go over the actual policy differences that are often the subject of ridicule from the opposing camp. As I will show, although each side will focus on the differences, even where Johnson and Paul differ, they aren’t that different.
So let us put this behind us. I thought this was a revolution. I’ve been seeing much more hate than love recently.
This is not the Ron Paul movement. It is not the Gary Johnson movement. This is the libertarian movement, and the more soldiers for liberty we have the more successful our fight will be.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
Republican Liberty Caucus Advisory Board member and Chairman of the Our America Initiative, former New Mexico Governor Gary E. Johnson, yesterday announced that he is seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States.
Governor Johnson appeared on Dylan Ratigan’s show on MSNBC, on FOX Business, and on John King USA with Jessica Yellin filling in for John King. View his appearance on John King USA, which was very good.
News articles about Governor Johnson’s campaign were featured in almost every major news outlet, including Politico.com, DailyCaller.com, USA Today, CBS News, ABC News, Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor, and numerous other publications.
Governor Johnson has made a tremendous effort to meet with RLC members from across the country as Chairman of the Our America Initiative. Most recently, he spoke at the 2011 RLC National Convention. He is known for his pro-liberty positions on the issues confronting our country.
The RLC has not endorsed any Presidential candidates since Steve Forbes in 1996. We let our members decide who they want to support and only formally endorse a candidate if our chartered state affiliates unanimously agree on a candidate to endorse.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect official positions of the RLC.
Before releasing his budget publicly, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) gave Senate Republicans a private briefing about the plan in early April. During that meeting, RLC Advisory Board member Rand Paul, a Tea Party-backed freshman from Kentucky, challenged Ryan in front of the rest of their party, according to two GOP aides briefed on the meeting.
Sen. Paul said Rep. Ryan’s plan did not do enough to cut spending and relied on too much deficit spending for too long, according to the aides.
Ryan gave it right back to him. The budget committee chairman went directly after Sen. Paul’s five-year budget plan, which he had clearly studied closely. Ryan’s criticism went roughly like this: yes, he said, you slash the Department of Education and make fast, dramatic cuts, but you don’t deal with entitlement spending. In the out years the deficit would sky-rocket, he said, making an air chart with his hand moving through the air and pointing sharply upward.
A GOP aide sympathetic to Sen. Paul said that Rep. Ryan’s criticism unfairly isolated a single part of his plan and treated as if it represented Paul’s global approach to deficit reduction. Paul does plan to announce a proposal for cutting entitlement spending, the aide said, but wanted to put the domestic spending plan out first.
The private challenge from Sen. Paul reflects criticisms of Rep. Ryan’s plan Paul also made to HuffPost. Paul thinks that Ryan’s approach doesn’t go nearly far enough.
“Here’s how bad it is: The president’s proposal, his ten year plan, is 46 trillion in spending. Paul Ryan’s alternative, which everybody is going crazy over, is still 40 trillion dollars in spending,” Paul told HuffPost. “My problem with the whole thing is that all of the proposals basically increase spending.”
Rand Paul said that Paul Ryan’s plan relies too heavily on deficit spending. “The president adds, I think, 11 trillion to the gross debt and Ryan’s plan adds eight trillion. I don’t think anybody up here realizes that we can’t withstand trillion dollar annual deficits,” he said.
A Ryan spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.
The House recently approved Ryan’s spending plan, but it was rejected by the Senate. A compromise budget expires at the end of September.