By Kevin Price, Publisher and Editor in Chief, US Daily Review
In Part 1 in this series I introduced the reader to former Gov. Gary Johnson, a very likable, but lower tier candidate for President of the United States. He has failed to catch on, in my opinion, not because he lacks qualifications. In fact, as you will read in part 1, he may be the most qualified. Sure, he looks a little like a professor and he comes across even disinterested. But he has a record as good, or better, than any of his opponents; but one issue – his passion about the legalization of drugs, makes it difficult for him to resonate with typical GOP voters.
Johnson was a guest on my show, the Price of Business, and this is the first half of that interview. Tomorrow will provide the conclusion. Although fairly “raw,” this interview has been slightly edited for presentation purposes, but the comments remain intact and in context. I provide this interview for the reader to have the opportunity to learn more about Johnson and, specifically his positions on drugs. I will add italics to those comments and will add comments at the end.
Kevin Price (KP)
I’m going to go straight to my next guest, Gary Johnson, former governor of New Mexico. I understand you’re a conservative with a libertarian bend, that’s kind of how you’re described. Gary, glad to have you on the program.
Gary Johnson (GJ)
Kevin, thank you for having me on the program. I’m in Houston today. I’m going to be speaking tonight at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, there at Reliant Park at 6:30.
Yeah, in fact, it appears I might be speaking there as well. I’ll be warming up the crowd there is what it sounds like, and so I’m looking forward to being there.
And of course, if you’re ahead of me, why, I don’t know if anybody will even hang around.
Oh, I doubt that, I doubt that, I appreciate that though. I’ll send you a check later for that. But, let’s talk a little about your background, about your service, and where you see the country is going. Kind of give us a little information about yourself, Gary.
Well, first off, I’m an entrepreneur, first and foremost. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, and I consider what I’m doing right now as entrepreneurial. I started a construction business in Albuquerque in 1974 as a one-person handyman, me, and in 1994, I actually had a thousand employees, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, pipe fitting. Sold that business in 1999 and nobody lost their job, and that business is doing better than ever. And I also got to serve as governor of New Mexico from 1995 through 2002, and I really thought I made a difference as governor of New Mexico. I’m going to make the outrageous claim that I was fiscally the most conservative governor in the whole country.
I would say that’s probably very true. Tell us a little bit of the hallmarks, if you will, about your tenure.
Well, I think I got known for three things nationally. One was I ended up vetoing 750 bills while I was governor of New Mexico. Putting that into perspective, Kevin, that was more than all the other governors in the country, combined. New Mexico is 2 to 1 democrat, so just saying no doesn’t work, but saying that we’re going to show good stewardship of tax dollars, I think, is what got me reelected, so I think that speaks volumes, the fact that I got reelected. I would have been more outspoken than, so I think that speaks volumes, the fact that I got reelected. I would have been more outspoken than any governor in the country regarding school choice. I believe that education entrepreneurs unleashed on bringing competition to public education would dramatically improve public education. Lastly, I really wanted to focus on the war on drugs. I wanted to propose legalization as a potential alternative. So, I came to discover very shortly after entering into that process that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition-related and not use-related, and that’s not to discount the problems of use and abuse, but that ought to be the focus. So, I advocate legalizing marijuana, and when I say legalize pot, it’s never going to be legal to smoke pot, become impaired and get behind the wheel of a car, and it’s never going to be legal for kids to smoke pot. But, what we’re doing in this country is half of what we spend on law enforcement support and the prisons is drug-related. We’re arresting 1.8 million people per year in this country and we have 2.8 million people behind bars in this country.
As the reader can see, we did not get far in the conversation with the governor without going to a discussion on his policies on the legalization of marijuana. I found it interesting that he considered drug legalization to be one of the three “pillars” (my expression, not his) of his administration. It is not only what he became “known for,” but it is clearly how he wants to be remembered. What is significant is that the tone of the interview changed significantly after this as you will see in part 3. The audience responded strongly on the show’s chat and in email, and instead of focusing on his record of achievement in an area most Americans are concerned about — economic recovery; it became a discussion on drugs. He may have “three strengths” he wishes to be known for, but this last one will almost certainly supplant the others as you will see in part 3.