Not all Libertarians are on board with former Republican Govs. Gary Johnson and William Weld running together on the party’s presidential ticket.
Mr. Johnson was booed by delegates at the Libertarian Party convention Friday during a preliminary debate after he described Mr. Weld’s candidacy as “beyond my wildest dreams” and called the former Massachusetts governor “the original Libertarian.”
Mr. Johnson’s comments came after Austin Petersen, a consultant who’s also running for the party’s presidential nomination, criticized Mr. Weld for endorsing Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 instead of Mr. Johnson, who was the Libertarian presidential candidate.
“Why didn’t your VP pick endorse you?” asked Mr. Petersen — who has called on delegates to stop nominating “failed Republicans” — at the nominating convention in Orlando, Florida.
Mr. Weld threw his hat into the Libertarian contest for vice president a week ago. The party is scheduled to select its presidential and vice presidential nominees Sunday in separate votes.
Since entering the race, however, Mr. Weld has been blasted by Libertarians such as cyber-security entrepreneur John McAfee — who’s also seeking the party’s presidential nod — for his less-than-libertarian stances on issues such as gun rights.
“McAfee says Republicans are taking over the Libertarian Party. Yes, they are,” said David Knight of InfoWars in a Friday webcast. “They’re pandering. They want to be looked at as an established party.”
Libertarians have seen a groundswell of interest and record attendance at their weekend convention in Orlando, Florida, in large part as a result of the high disapproval ratings of the presumptive major-party nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
“They have seen a massive increase in people who are interested in what they’re about because they don’t like Trump or they don’t like Hillary or Bernie [Sanders],” said Mr. Knight. “And so people are checking them out. So what they’ve decided they’re going to do is present themselves as the GOP establishment. I think that’s really sad.”
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Weld, both two-term governors, actually have more governing experience between them than either the likely GOP or Democratic nominee. Mr. Trump has never sought public office, while Ms. Clinton served eight years as a senator from New York.
Mr. Johnson is polling at 10 percent in a hypothetical three-way presidential race. A survey conducted with the cooperation of the Libertarian National Committee released last week showed Mr. Johnson garnering 60 percent of the vote among a sample of Libertarian voters and registered members.
“From the sounds of the crowd, plenty of delegates are far happier about a candidate who speaks their concerns and hearts with passion and a customarily Libertarian Party style than they are concerned with serious political experience,” said Brian Doherty, a senior editor of Reason magazine.