How This Candidate Just Upped His Odds Of Winning The Presidency

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Update: Americans across the country will get three choices on the November ballot — Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson has made the ballot in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., his campaign announced on Tuesday. He’s the first third-party candidate to achieve that goal in 20 years. Green Party candidate Jill Stein has qualified for the ballot in 45 states, according to ABC News, and is an approved write-in candidate in three more.

This article was originally published on September 1, 2016.
With all of the attention given to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, it's almost easy to forget that it's far from a two-party race. Voters have more options than just Republican or Democrat this year. Jill Stein is running as the Green Party's candidate. Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is running on the Libertarian ticket. Johnson, a former Republican, is pushing himself as a preferable alternative for conservative voters who don't want to support Trump. "I will be the only third-party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states," Johnson told The Associated Press back in May. "I'm it." Johnson, currently polling at 9% according to a recent CNN survey, will have his shot. But who is the White House hopeful? Here are three things to know about the Libertarian candidate.

He’s one of the most experienced candidates running for the presidency.

Johnson has the most elected-government experience of all the candidates in the general election, excepting Hillary Clinton, who served two terms as a senator. Johnson served as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, winning both his elections by large margins. He proved to be a popular leader in the state, despite his heavy use of the veto pen — in his eight years in office, he issued more than 700 vetoes, with 200 of them coming in the first year of his term, as reported by Ballotpedia. He was a Republican when he served as governor, but he later shifted his ties to the Libertarian Party. He has also been vetted on the national stage before. In 2012, he ran for president on the Libertarian ticket and won more than a million votes, coming in third. His participation in Republican primary debates won him some acclaim, particularly his performance in a September 2011 debate where he hilariously snubbed the Obama administration’s stimulus spending. “My next-door neighbor's two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration,” he quipped.

He’s fiscally conservative, but socially liberal.

Johnson is a conservative in the traditional sense — he supports completely overhauling the American tax code to make it simpler and close loopholes. Johnson would eliminate both income tax and payroll taxes, instead having the government collect its taxes based off of spending on non-essential items. But on social issues, he falls much further to the liberal end of the spectrum. He’s supported marriage equality for years and he supports the legal right to abortion. One of his most famous stances is his push to decriminalize marijuana and end the "war on drugs," which he blames for tension and violence between Black Americans and the police. “The root is the war on drugs, I believe,” he said in a July interview with Politico. “If you are (Black and) arrested in a drug-related crime, there is four times more likelihood of going to prison than if you are white. And shooting is part of the same phenomenon.” He says America’s policy toward drugs and addiction needs to be a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue.

He climbed Mount Everest. Seriously.

Johnson is known for being extremely active. He’s competed in triathlons, did the 26-mile Bataan Memorial Death March, and was nearly killed in a paragliding accident in 2005 when he got snagged in a tree. Most impressive, though? Johnson, an avid mountain climber, took on the challenge of the biggest mountain of them all. He scaled Everest with the help of a team of sherpas in 2003. “It isn’t so much about getting to the top as, although that’s the plan. It’s about having given it the best shot,” he told KRQE News in New Mexico. So, whatever you think of his policies, one thing is clear. If we need a president who can double as an improbable action hero, Johnson might actually fit the bill.
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