Who is he: Gary Johnson is an American capitalist, governor of New Mexico from 1995-2003 and was a contender for the Republican nomination for President of the United States for the 2012 election, now endorsing Ron Paul for that position. Johnson is known for favoring low taxes and his open-minded opinions.
Johnson ran for Governor of New Mexico in 1994 on a traditional, low tax, anti-crime policy. He was known as Governor Veto because he vetoed half of the bills put to him in his first six months as governor, but also cutting the annual 10% growth in budget. His second term concentrated on school voucher reforms and the decriminalization of marijuana. As governor, he observed a strict anti-tax, anti-bureaucracy platform and set state and national records for the use of his veto powers: more than any other contemporary governor. Since he was term-limited, Johnson retired from politics in 2003.
Background: Gary Johnson was born on January 1st, 1953 in Minot, North Dakota. He graduated from Sandia High School in Albuquerque in 1971, then attended the University of New Mexico from 1971 to 1975, graduating with a Bachelor of Science.
Johnson spent $500,000 of his own money to run for Governor with a "common sense business approach" to the office. He campaigned with the slogan "People before Politics." Johnson's platform emphasized tax cuts, creation of jobs, control over state government spending growth and law and order. As governor, Johnson adhered to a firm small-government approach.
While in office, Johnson satisfied his campaign promise to decrease the annual growth of the state budget. In his first budget, he proposed a varied range of tax cuts, that included a retraction of the prescription drug tax, a $47 million income tax cut and a gasoline tax cut of six cents per gallon. However, only the gasoline tax cut was passed. During the November 1995 federal government closure, he joined 20 other Republican governors who called for the Republican leadership in Congress to stand firm in negotiations against the Clinton administration for budget concerns; in the article reporting on the letter and associated news conference, he was quoted as calling for eradicating the budget deficit through comparative cuts across the budget.
In 1998, Johnson created a state drought task force that resulted in an organized effort among state and federal officials to anticipate drought conditions and distribute information ahead of a genuine scarcity. He ran for reelection and promised to continue the policies of his first term: improving schools, cutting state expenditure, taxes, and bureaucracy, and repeated use of his veto power. He ran against a strong Hispanic candidate in a state that is 40% Hispanic. As such, the Democrats anticipated that they would oust Johnson. Johnson won, however, by a 55% to 45% margin. This made him the first Governor of New Mexico to serve two four-year terms after the limits were extended in 1991.
The school voucher system was made the dominant issue of Johnson's second term. In 1999, he proposed the first statewide voucher system in America. It would have enrolled 100,000 pupils in its first year. That year, he rejected two budgets that failed to contain a voucher program and the government coming to a halt was imminent. In the end, however, Johnson yielded to Democrat majorities in both houses of the New Mexico Legislature who were against the idea. Johnson signed the budget, but line-item vetoed $21m, or 0.5%, the Democrats wanted from the legislative plan.
Johnson became one of the highest ranking officeholders in the United States to support the legalization of marijuana. He said the "War on Drugs" was an expensive bust, so he advocated the decriminalization of marijuana use and stated that the government should concentrate on harm reduction measures for all other illegal drugs instead. He suggested that drug addiction should be treated as a health matter, not as a criminal matter. The method he approached the issue with received supportive notice from conservative icon William F. Buckley, as well as the Cato Institute and Rolling Stone. He retired in 2003 due to the term limits placed on his office.