Last week, Heath all but wrote the “is-former-New-Mexico-Governor-Gary-Johnson-running-for-president-in-2012?” blog for me. According to Heath, Johnson is running, and this isn’t a surprise:
“Johnson, a libertarian-leaning Republican, plans to skip the step of creating an exploratory committee, Politico reported. Fox News reported that Johnson’s announcement will come sometime after April 15 – tax day.
“The announcement isn’t a surprise. Talk of the tea party favorite running for president in 2012 really started ramping up in early 2009.”
Well, the former governor’s run is actually a surprise to me and the majority of my inside-the-beltway network. And, yes, this perhaps screams to Washington’s ignorance regarding the non-mainstream Republican contenders out in the field.
When I asked one conservative networker I know about former Governor Johnson’s chances in 2012, the response was:
“like a puff of green smoke…”
Implying, poof, gone.
When I asked a different and well-respected Republican operative about Johnson, I was given a more lengthy response (albeit similar to the one above):
“At actually winning the nomination? Only if there were some natural disaster at a debate he didn’t get invited to that killed all the other candidates and all the filing deadlines had passed. Although even then, I’d feel confident betting we’d nominate someone else from the convention floor.
“But seriously, the only chance he has at being a factor at all is if neither Paul (Ron/Rand) runs. If that happens, he’ll pick up most of their base of support and manage to be a small annoyance to the rest of the field. If one of the Pauls do run, then he won’t even be able to qualify as an annoyance.
“Numbers wise, Gallup poll from yesterday has him at the least known of any of the potential candidates, with 14% name recognition among R’s & R leaners (including below Cain at 21% and Roemer at 19%). He also clocks in with the lowest number of people who hold strong feelings about him either way, with a combined strongly fav/unfav of only 4%.
“The only press he’ll get will be one of two stories: 1) the one you’re supposed to write now: Does He Have a Chance??? and 2) if he says anything really outrageous (a la Cain last week saying he wouldn’t appoint Muslim judges or cabinet secretaries). Otherwise, he’s in the fourth paragraph, which will start with something like “Also visiting the area yesterday…”
Another close-to-the GOP operative put it like this:
“I respect the fact that former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson had a fabulous track record and reputation as Governor of New Mexico…but that’s just it, he’s a Governor from New Mexico several cycles removed. This race is going to be price tagged at $1 billion and I just don’t see Johnson cinching that on the Republican end. Finally, feel free to throw me off the boat, but since when was Johnson the tea party’s favorite?”
These are just a sampling of thoughts from non-New Mexicans. I would be curious to hear what you, New Mexicans, have to say.
Sarah Lenti is the blogger behind NMPolitics.net’s The Savvy. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For full disclosure, Lenti is a Republican strategist who works closely with potential GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s PAC.