No matter where in the country you for president vote this November, you'll have at least three choices. That's because Gary Johnson is on the ballot in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., his campaign announced Tuesday. And, yes, that's a very big deal. It's the first time in 20 years a Libertarian candidate has done so, party chairman Nicholas Sarwark told the Los Angeles Times. Harry Browne accomplished the same feat in the race against Bill Clinton, Bob Dole, and Reform Party candidate Ross Perot in 1996.
Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, released a statement Tuesday:
With a majority of Americans wanting a choice other than Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, today we now know for certain that on Election Day, every voter in America will have that alternative option. And today we also know that the only other option on every American voter's ballot will be myself and Gov. Weld.
Gaining ballot access in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is a monumental task, as evidenced by the fact that we will be the only ticket other than the Republicans and Democrats to do so. Thousands of volunteers, thousands of contributors and activists on every state made it happen.
Weld is former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Johnson's VP pick. Currently Johnson is polling at about 9 percentage points in four-way races against Trump, Clinton, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Not everyone will be able to vote for Stein, though. Johnson is the only third-party candidate to appear on every ballot this election season. According to Stein's website, she will appear on 44 states' ballots; in three more she's encouraging supporters to vote for her as a write-in candidate.
Despite meeting this very difficult feat, Johnson still has his work cut out for him. His campaign ran a full-page ad in Wednesday's The New York Times arguing that they should be included in the first debate. The rules require a candidate to be polling at 15 percent to be included, which would leave Johnson about 6 points behind. The ad, which takes the form of an open letter to the Commission on Presidential Debates according to POLITICO, argues that making the ballot in 50 states should play into the decision:
We've done the work required to appear on the ballot in all 50 states and because we are polling in double digits in the majority of those states, we respectfully propose the following: Put a third podium on stage for the debate scheduled on Sept. 26. Allow us to make our case to the American people. If, in the polls that follow, we fail to meet that 15 percent standard, we'll make no further efforts for inclusion in subsequent debates.
Johnson's campaign needed this good news after a recent stumble in an interview on MSNBC. Asked, "What would you do if you were elected about Aleppo?" Johnson responded, "What is Aleppo?" The questioner, an MSNBC commentator Mike Barnicle, seemed dumbfounded by the response. He eventually explained to Johnson that Aleppo is a city in Syria. "O.K., got it," Johnson said before going on to say Syria is a mess. Later he released a statement saying he "blanked."