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The Governors Ticket 2016

Posted at 7:27 pm May 23, 2016, in 2016 Election, U.S. Governors

Gary Johnson, governor of New Mexico (1995-2003)

In October 2014, Governor Chris Christie made a prediction while speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce event. “I am convinced,” he said, “that the next president of the United States is going to be a governor….” Christie, of course, may have had a particular governor in mind, but he was not alone in his assessment. Former Kansas Senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole, speaking to a reporter in May 2015, had a similar forecast: “I think it’s going to be a governor. I don’t know which one.”

As the primary season draws to a close, it looks like both Christie and Dole—along with many pundits and prognosticators—will be wrong. No governors remain in the race for either the Republican or Democratic nominations, as businessman Donald Trump (R) is the presumed Republican candidate and former first lady, U.S. Senator, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) are the only candidates left seeking the Democratic nomination.

And yet, there may be a governor on the ballot this November after all – at least in most states. As he did in 2012, former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, is again vying for the Libertarian nomination for president. Johnson served as governor from 1995-2003, at the time as a member of the Republican Party.

In 2012, Johnson announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. After struggling in the early stages of the race, however, he withdrew from the Republican race and declared he would instead seek the Libertarian Party nomination. He did win that nomination and would go on to receive 1% of the popular vote in the 2016 general election. Not surprisingly, Johnson fared best in his home state of New Mexico, where he received 3.55% of the vote. He also did comparatively well in Montana (2.93%) and Alaska (2.46%). He did not do as well in New Jersey—while he finished third, it was with only 0.58% of the vote.

For the current cycle, Johnson announced in January of this year that he would again seek the Libertarian nomination and he is the heavy favorite. He has already announced that, if he is successful, he will bring another former governor with him—former Massachusetts Governor William Weld (R, 1991-1997)—as his running mate. If a Johnson/Weld ticket were to ultimately win the White House, it would be only the sixth time in U.S. History—and first since the Woodrow Wilson administration (1913-1921)—that former governors held both the presidency and vice-presidency.

While that may seem an unlikely result and Christie and Dole are still almost certain to be proven wrong, it appears Trump, Clinton, and Sanders may have two more governors to contend with before the election is officially over.

The Libertarian Party Convention will be held May 27-30, 2016.

– Kristoffer Shields