Huffpost DC

Gary Johnson, Libertarian Presidential Candidate, Wants To Outperform Mitt Romney In D.C.

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GARY JOHNSON DC VOTING RIGHTS
AP

WASHINGTON -- District of Columbia voters: Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is asking you to help him come in second.

Johnson is scheduled to meet Thursday night with with prospective voters at Dupont Circle's new game-themed bar Board Room, explaining how he can -- and why he should -- beat Mitt Romney in the nation's capital.

While the former New Mexico governor's positions on marijuana legalization, immigration reform and guns are well known (he likes all three), his positions on D.C. voting rights aren't.

In advance of Thursday's visit, Johnson's campaign spokesman Joe Hunter clarified the candidate's local D.C. record. The Democrats and GOP may have disappointing positions on D.C. statehood, but Johnson is in favor of "full voting representation in Congress," he says. "Obviously, statehood would provide that representation." Hunter says that Johnson is also in favor of D.C. budget autonomy.

Johnson would loosen federal restrictions that limit the height of D.C.'s buildings, too. "Incessant micro-management by Congress ends up being far more about political posturing back home than about good government in D.C.," Hunter says. "Consistent with that belief, he believes the District should be able to determine its own building codes."

Despite these encouraging positions, third-party candidates have not traditionally fared very strongly in the District of Columbia, since local residents began voting in presidential elections in 1964.

1980 was an unusually fruitful year for third-party candidate. John Anderson got 9.28 percent of the D.C. vote. That wasn't enough to beat Ronald Reagan, who took 13.41 percent, and Jimmy Carter, who carried D.C. with 74.89 percent.

Ross Perot took 4.25 of the D.C. vote in 1992; George H.W. Bush got 9.10 percent and Bill Clinton won 84.64 percent that year. In 2000, Ralph Nader took a respectable 5 percent of the vote, still less than George Bush's 9 percent; Al Gore won 85 percent of the D.C. vote.

In 2004, Nader did worse, taking home just 1 percent of the D.C. vote, to Bush's 9 percent and John Kerry's 90 percent.

Libertarian political strategist John Vaught LaBeaume, who's helping with Johnson's media campaign in D.C., told HuffPost DC he still thinks Johnson has a real shot at unseating Romney from second place in D.C. (There aren't any polls showing what D.C. voters intend this election cycle; Obama having taken 93 percent of the 2008 vote in D.C. strongly suggests that the Democratic incumbent will again come in first.)

LaBeaume will also be speaking at Thursday's event, using a D.C. precinct map to explain his optimism.

"Beating one of the major parties would be a shot in the arm for any alternative party," he says. "And it would be evidence that the Libertarian Party has appeal in precincts of growing influence, and the GOP is on the wane, its appeal almost extinct with urban electorate."

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