Petition drive pushes for Libertarian candidate

When it comes to the upcoming slugfest for the White House between President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, you can expect partisan speeches full of red meat, endless commercials and lots of in-your-face campaigning.

But to make sure his preferred candidate even makes the ballot for this November’s presidential election, one man has been bringing back a bit of old school person-to-person politics. For the past few weeks, Old Greenwich resident Lance Lamberton had been stationed outside of Town Hall and other nearby locations to try and get signatures on a petition for the presidential campaign of former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.

Mr. Johnson was actually the first Republican to announce his intentions to run for president, beating even Mr. Romney to the punch, but was unable to gain traction in the crowded field. He effectively ended his Republican campaign before the New Hampshire primary but didn’t stop his bid for the White House. Instead he has focused on running as a Libertarian and in May was formally nominated as that party’s candidate.

Mr. Johnson is attempting to get on the ballot in all 50 states and Mr. Lamberton has been helping the Connecticut Libertarian Party with its efforts here in the Nutmeg State. To get Mr. Johnson on the ballot, they’ve needed the signatures of registered Connecticut voters and Mr. Lamberton is one of several volunteers in the state trying to get them to the state’s Board of Elections before the deadline this past Tuesday.

In an interview with the Post last week, Mr. Lamberton said that he had been out at the Town Hall and Greenwich Library as well as in other spots like the Norwalk DMV. He said he wanted to be places where there was a lot of foot traffic as well as a chance to talk to people about the issues and why he felt Mr. Johnson’s campaign is worth supporting. The party has been running candidates for president since 1972 and Mr. Lamberton said the former governor is “the most qualified and experienced in performance” candidate they’ve run and claiming he can “step in on day one and be an extremely powerful and effective chief executive.”

“I’ve been a Libertarian ever since I first heard the word back in 1973,” Mr. Lamberton said. “It is the most consistent political philosophy of liberty and freedom that is out there. It’s a non-contradictory philosophy. If we lived in a libertarian society we’d be so much better off economically, spiritually and in every measure you can have of quality of life. Freedom and liberty is the natural condition of man and the more freedom and liberty you have and the less tyranny you have, the more harmonious it is with our nature. It allows us to thrive.”

Mr. Johnson’s policy stances include calling for a balanced budget, curtailing spending and the size of government, reforming the Federal Reserve, legalizing marijuana, scaling back involvement in foreign wars, protecting gun rights, and immigration reform.

Mr. Lamberton said that Mr. Johnson is preferable to Mr. Romney because of his tendency to “say whatever he needs to say to get elected” and change his opinions on issues. He also criticized Mr. Romney’s foreign policy stances and also said that Mr. Johnson has far more executive experience than President Obama and, while governor of New Mexico, had used his veto power effectively to keep taxes low and spending down.

“He is far more qualified and experienced to be president than Obama,” Mr. Lamberton said.

In the Republican primary race, Mr. Lamberton was a supporter of Texas Congressman Ron Paul but now he is focused on helping Mr. Johnson’s campaign. He’s been active in politics for decades and said that when the state Libertarian Party reached out to him he was glad to do it.

“The Libertarian philosophy basically is that you have the right to do whatever you want with your life so as long as in doing so you don’t interfere with anyone else doing what they want with their lives,” Mr. Lamberton said. “That’s the core principle of libertarianism and it’s pretty much the core principle of our founding fathers. I think libertarianism is a call for us to go back to our roots as a country.”

It won’t be clear for more than a week whether Mr. Johnson will appear on the Connecticut ballot. The signatures have to be reviewed by the state to make sure they are legitimate, but Mr. Lamberton is optimistic they will get the 7,500 qualified signatures. Because some of those names might not check out, campaigns always look to get far more than the requirement. He said this state effort should be able to pay off and he points to his own experiences in Greenwich as a sign, saying that people have been open to hearing about Mr. Johnson and the Libertarian philosophy.

“There’s been a very positive reaction, and even when people don’t want to sign they’ve been very polite about it,” Mr. Lamberton said. “People are either signing or telling me they appreciate what I’m doing. This is obviously a very Republican area and there has been a concern with some people I talk to about this taking votes away from Mitt Romney. That’s the major objection I’ve heard. I’ve told them that in all likelihood Connecticut is going to go to Obama. It’s a blue state. By putting Gary Johnson on the ballot it will not affect the outcome of the Electoral College as far as Connecticut is concerned, but what it does do is give the voters more choices.”

A good showing in getting ballot access could help establish the Libertarian Party as a viable third-party alternative as well as give Mr. Johnson some momentum if he chose to run again as a Republican in 2016. Mr. Lamberton said that people may continue to get involved even though the petition drive has ended. He said people who want to learn more may visit the candidate website at garyjohnson2012.com.

 

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