Libertarian Gary Johnson will be on NH Presidential Ballot
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(CONCORD, NH) Gary Johnson is joining Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in November. Secretary of State Bill Gardner confirms to New Hampshire Watchdog that the Libertarian Party of NH has submitted more than enough verified petitions to place Johnson and a small slate of Libertarian candidates on the General Election Ballot.
New Hampshire election laws allow political organizations to qualify as political parties in two ways; get more than 4% of the vote for Governor or U.S. Senate, or submit petitions signed by registered voters totaling 3% of the votes cast in the last General Election.
This year, that meant 13,843, which all needed to be verified with local election officials before being submitted to the Secretary of State’s Office. This morning, New Hampshire Libertarians brought in boxes of petitions, which Gardner and his staff took several hours to count. Gardner says they submitted more than 15,000 petitions, qualifying their slate of candidates for the November ballot. Republicans and Democrats vote for their nominees next Tuesday, and each party has until next Friday to fill vacancies on the ballot.
Libertarians, and independent candidates trying to get on the ballot, must file their intention to run alongside Republican and Democrat candidates in June, and have until tomorrow at 5pm to submit their signed petitions. Gardner says the Libertarian Party is the only political organization that filed an intention to put up a slate in New Hampshire this year, and they made their deadline with a full day and over 1,000 signatures to spare.
Libertarians were recognized as a major political party in New Hampshire for six years in the 1990′s, after Gubernatorial candidate Miriam Luce won over 3% of the vote in 1992. The State of New Hampshire ran a Libertarian Primary in September at the same time as the Republican and Democratic Primaries for three straight election cycles, and electing several Representatives to the State House. But Gardner says fewer than 1,000 voters cast ballots in the Libertarian Primary statewide, prompting the Legislature to re-examine its ballot access laws in 1998. It expanded party eligibility to U.S. Senate candidates as well as those for Governor, but increased the threshold to 4.
Since that time, no Libertarian candidate has won ballot access for the party. Frequent candidate Ken Blevens came the closest in 2008, gaining just over 3% in the Senate rematch between Jeanne Shaheen and John Sununu.
With no Senate race up for grabs in New Hampshire this year, Libertarian Gubernatorial nominee John Babiarz has his party’s 2014 ballot status riding on his shoulders alone.
Johnson, a former two-term Republican Governor of New Mexico, initially sought the Republican Presidential nomination accepted by Mitt Romney last week in Tampa. He made dozens of trips to New Hampshire and eventually concentrated his long-shot campaign entirely on the Granite State’s First in the Nation Primary, before dropping out to run as a Libertarian.
Johnson’s presence on the ballot could benefit either Romney or Obama. Johnson’s core support comes from small-government conservatives antithetical to the Obama Administration’s spending practices. But much of New Hampshire’s libertarian community has aligned with the state’s Occupy movement, protesting increased corporate influence on government. If Johnson were to catch on with Granite Staters in November, he could draw voters who would otherwise choose Obama or Romney.
A third party candidate likely decided the fate of New Hampshire’s four electoral votes, and the Presidency, in 2000. George W. Bush defeated Al Gore by just 7,000 that year, but Green Party candidate Ralph Nader pulled in more than 22,000 votes. Whether Gore could have captured the lion’s share of those votes had Nader not been on the ballot can’t be known, but that would have been enough to render Florida’s hanging chads moot.
Besides Johnson and Babiarz, the New Hampshire Libertarian Party has filed a dozen candidates for offices from Executive Council, State Senate, and State Representative.
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