Libertarian Gary Johnson is online sports betting's big hope
Chances are you and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson are in agreement on several issues. In fact, I can almost guarantee it.
If you’re a pothead, Johnson says you should be able to consume as much hemp as your body can handle.
Think it’s about time we stop sending troops into the mountains of Afghanistan? Johnson’s your guy.
Want to spend six days a week in your mom’s basement gambling online? Knock yourself out, says GJ.
Johnson will not wake up on a cold morning in late January 2013 as the new president of the United States, but if things break right the only candidate enthusiastically in support of our right to gamble on sports and bet online can make things uncomfortable for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney in a few states.
“I wouldn’t be doing this if I didn’t think I could have an impact,” Johnson told Covers.com in a recent interview. “And I think I can win if I can get into the debates.”
Getting banned from the Republican debates last winter basically slammed the door shut on his bid to win the GOP nomination, so in late December the former two-term governor of New Mexico did the only honorable thing –– he up and quit. A little more than four months later Johnson’s break with the Republican Party became irrevocable when Libertarians nominated him for president at their convention at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas.
It’s no surprise that Republicans treated Johnson like a picnic skunk. He thinks that if the GOP wants government out of the hair of business, then it also has no business snooping into people’s bedrooms.
“There is a certain Republican dogma I can’t accept,” says Johnson. “Homophobia is one of those issues.”
But if Johnson has a certain appeal to the ever-expanding segment of the population that believes that homosexuals should be allowed to marry, chances are close to 100 percent that his policies on guns (have as many as you want), Medicare (cut it in half), Medicaid (cut it in half) and Social Security (cut it in half) will be hard to swallow.
“The Libertarian candidate,” said Johnson, “is going to be the only one talking about gay rights and gun rights, about slashing welfare and warfare.”
Johnson was known as Governor Veto during his eight-year stay in New Mexico (1995-2003), and he’ll tell anyone who’ll listen that he vetoed more bills (200 in his first six months in office) than all the governors of the other 49 states combined. He was generally popular in New Mexico, but term limits choked off his political career and he spent most of last decade participating in triathlons and climbing mountains.
There is no model for third-party candidates running for president. Democrats and Republicans have super-glued the locks that need to be picked by outsiders trying to have an impact, and it will be hard for Johnson to gain traction even for a voting public that may be disillusioned with Obama and views Romney as a clueless visitor from another planet.
Life for third-party candidates has been cold and lonely since Teddy Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party and grabbed 88 electoral votes (on 27 percent of the popular vote) in 1912. The Strom Thurmond-led Dixiecrat Party convinced more than a million racists to vote for it in 1948. Two decades ago Ross Perot, who was bascially a bobblehead doll with DNA, actually led in one poll before fading to less than 20 percent in the election, though he may have helped deny George H.W. Bush a second term.
Where the rubber hits the road
Johnson told Covers that his chances of becoming a factor against Obama and Romney hinge on getting enough poll support (15 percent nationally) to be included in what is expected to be a series of three televised debates this fall. It’s a classic Catch-22 that almost all third-party candidates face - they can’t get support without being in the televised debates, and they can’t get in the debates without showing a certain degree of support.
Libertarians were clearly hoping that the withdrawal of like-minded Ron Paul from the Republican race would result in Paul’s backers moving to Johnson. No such luck. While Johnson has been consistently complimentary toward the Texan, Paul doesn’t return the favor, even though doing so might give Johnson a base of supporters that he might be able to build on.
When asked Johnson if he feels that Ron Paul sees Johnson as a threat to Paul’s son (Rand, a politically ambitious senator from Kentucky), Johnson paused a moment and then said, “I can’t say that. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.”
The campaign trail
So Johnson soldiers on through the late spring and early summer, hoping to use free media to get his name in the political conversation as much as possible. He’s polling at six percent in Wisconsin, nine percent in Arizona. He’s been endorsed by a few dozen academics, and by Vegas magician Penn Jillette. It’s no shock that Johnson’s pro-pot legalization stance landed the endorsement of Willie Nelson.
And if just thinking about the government’s antiquated and hypocritical stance on sports betting or online gambling gets your blood boiling, Johnson makes the following pitch for your vote: “If I’m elected president and Congress sends me a bill legalizing online gambling, I’ll sign it. And if Congress sends me a bill legalizing sports betting, I’ll sign it.”
Can’t be much clearer than that.