Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who Is Gary Johnson? (Part 1)

Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953) is the former Governor of New Mexico, having served 2 terms from 1995 to 2003.  He is well-known for his low-tax libertarian views and as the founder of one of New Mexico's largest construction companies.

Johnson first entrance into politics was his bid for Governor of New Mexico in 1994.  He defeated incumbent governor Bruce King by a substantial margin.  He sought re-election in 1998, winning by a  10 point margin.  In his second term, he focused on educational spending reform, in particular the use of school vouchers.  He is also the first high-profile political figure to support decriminalization of marijuana.

As the result of New Mexico's 2 term limit, Johnson retired from politics at the end of his second term.  In 2009, he founded the Our America Initiative (http://ouramericainitiative.com/), a 501(c)(4) political advocacy organization.  Johnson has also been the subject of media speculation as a possible candidate for President of the United States in the 2012 election.

For his 8 years in office, Johnson was the nation's most frugal governor, by vetoing over 1,000 spending items and cut taxes 14 times.  The number of vetoes exceeded the amount in the other 49 states, COMBINED!  As a result, when Johnson left office in 2002, New Mexico was only one of 4 states with a balanced budget.

So how is Johnson's track record as Governor?

According to http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/:

In the 8 years during Johnson's tenure, Real New Mexican Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew from approximately $41.7 billion to nearly $53.7 billion, an increase of 28%.  By comparison, in the 8 subsequent years under Bill Richardson, GDP has grown by only 17%.

New Mexican Gross Public Debt rose from $12 billion to $14 billion (16% increase) during Johnson's reign, but has since exploded to $21 billion today (50% more!)
Government spending, as a percentage of GDP, rose from 20% to 23% during the Johnson years. It is currently, at 25%.

According to unemployment statistics as provided by (http://www.deptofnumbers.com/unemployment/new-mexico/), Johnson inherited an unemployment rate of approximately 6.5% which fell to about 5.0% at the end of his second term.  The jobless rate is 8.5% today.  The increase is greater than the national average.

There are certainly ways that one could pick apart the economic statistics by claiming that he presided over the prosperous Clinton years, or through other ways of parsing the data.  Needless to say, this could be debated to death and reasonable people could disagree.  Marko's Take?  The objectives facts are  unequivocally supportive of his expertise as a Chief Executive. 

Oh, and one more eensie weensie thing.  Johnson has a reputation for being exceedingly honest.  Critic Roger Ebert, no friend of the Republican party by any means, said "I can quite honestly say that at this point there is not a single other Republican candidate I can imagine voting for in 2012. And I may not vote for Johnson either if he runs – but I do think he’s one of those rarest of creatures: an honest politician. And that counts for quite a lot."

Tomorrow, I will give my "Take" on his positions. 

Marko's Take

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