Redefining the Liberty Movement
Governor Gary Johnson, the former Libertarian Presidential Candidate, grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood of Minot, North Dakota, with a teacher father and a mother who worked with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was exposed from an early age to the value of money and an appreciation for diversity, traits that he carries to this day.
In the summer of 1974, while still studying at the University of New Mexico, Johnson decided to work part-time as a handyman, doing various types of work which included simple plumbing, remodeling and even construction jobs. His early success prompted him to start Big J Enterprises in 1976, soon after he graduated. It began as a small one-man operation which suddenly grew to multi-million dollar firm after he secured a contract from Intel for an expansion of their manufacturing facility in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County.
Video from Gary Johnson’s 1/22/2015 Wisconsin Forum presentation:
The company, built on a solid platform of worker’s welfare and good business ethics, continued to grow in strength. By the time Johnson decided to sell the firm in 1994, following his victory in the gubernatorial election of New Mexico, Big J Enterprises employed over a 1,000 workers. The $38 million deal had a clause in it that prevents the retrenchment of existing workers by the new owners.
He won the governorship in 1994 as an upstart Republican candidate, making a name for himself over the course of his time in office as a libertarian-minded conservative. He’s been active in libertarian causes, including marijuana legalization, since leaving office and is an accomplished athlete, having climbed Mt. Everest in 2003.
Johnson is an avid triathlete who bikes extensively and abstains from all recreational drug use, caffeine, alcohol, and some sugar products. During his term in office, he competed in several triathlons, marathons and bike races. He competed three times (1993, 1997, 1999) as a celebrity invitee at the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii, registering his best time for the 2.4-mile (3.9 km) swim, 112-mile (180 km) bike ride, and 26.2-mile (42.2 km) marathon run in 1999 with 10 hours, 39 minutes, and 16 seconds. He once ran 100 miles (160 km) in 30 consecutive hours in the Rocky Mountains. On May 30, 2003, he reached the summit of Mount Everest “despite toes blackened with frostbite.” He has climbed six of the Seven Summits: Mount Everest, Mount Elbrus, Mount McKinley, Mount Kilimanjaro, Aconcagua, and Carstensz Pyramid—the tallest peaks in Asia, Europe, North America, Africa, South America, and Oceania respectively. He completed the Bataan Memorial Death March at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, in which participants traverse a 26.2 mile course through the desert, many of them in combat boots and wearing 35-pound packs. On October 12, 2005, Johnson was involved in a near-fatal paragliding accident when his wing caught in a tree and he fell approximately 50 feet to the ground. Johnson suffered multiple bone fractures, including a burst fracture to his T12 vertebrae, a broken rib, and a broken knee; this accident left him 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) shorter. He used medicinal marijuana for pain control from 2005 to 2008.
He believes women have the right to choose an abortion up until the time that the fetus could survive on its own. He opposed the Iraq War from the start. Though he initially supported the war in Afghanistan, he no longer believes U.S. troops should be there. Additionally, he has said he would not have signed the Arizona immigration law because he’s concerned it could lead to racial profiling.
Johnson decided to join the presidential race out of concern for the U.S. economy. In 2009, he formed a non-profit, Our America Initiative, that promotes fiscal responsibility among other issues. Johnson has been at the bottom of the polls throughout his campaign and has been largely left out of the debate circuit, participating in only two debates. His campaign has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission and Federal Communications Commission about his exclusion.
Johnson was term limited and could not run for a third consecutive term as governor in 2002. In the 2008 presidential election campaign, Johnson endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican nomination, “because of his commitment to less government, greater liberty, and lasting prosperity for America.” Johnson spoke at Paul’s “Rally for the Republic” on September 2, 2008.
Johnson is a Lutheran and stated that his belief in God has given him “a very fundamental belief that we should do unto others as we would have others do unto us.
Johnson serves on the Advisory Council of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a student nonprofit organization which advocates for drug policy reform.
As of April 2011, he serves on the board of directors of Students For Liberty, a nonprofit libertarian organization. His first book, Seven Principles of Good Government, was published on August 1, 2012
In July 2014 Johnson was named president and CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a Nevada-based company that aims primarily to sell medical cannabis products in states where medicinal and/or recreational cannabis is legal.