Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson won the Libertarian Party 2016 presidential nomination on Sunday, capturing 55.8 percent of the delegate vote on the second ballot in what could be a banner year for the nation’s largest third party.
Mr. Johnson, the 2012 Libertarian presidential candidate, easily cleared the majority threshold after missing being nominated on the first ballot by just five votes at the party convention in Orlando, Florida.
His nomination came despite his being booed at times during the convention by delegates who have accused him of being a “Libertarian-lite” candidate.
“I will work as hard as I can to represent everybody in this room,” Mr. Johnson said in a brief acceptance speech. “Look, for those that weren’t supportive, I just want to reiterate a couple of things: I tell the truth. I am not a liar. And I make plenty of mistakes, but what I say at this convention is what I say everywhere, wherever I go, and I believe it is a really Libertarian message.”
On the second balloting, held less than an hour after the first ballot, Mr. Johnson won 518 of the 942 delegate votes cast, besting consultant Austin Petersen with 203 votes, or 21.9 percent of the total, and cybersecurity entrepreneur John McAfee with 131 votes, or 14.1 percent.
Mr. Johnson received 1.27 million votes in the 2012 presidential race, the most ever by a Libertarian candidate, and has polled in double digits against the presumptive major-party nominees, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.
“Leaving this convention, I think millions of people are going to be trying to understand what it is to be a Libertarian,” Mr. Johnson said.
Polls show both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump with high unfavorable ratings, creating an opening for a third-party alternative.
The delegates also voted puckishly to present the Liberty Outreach Award to Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Trump for helping spur interest in the Libertarian Party.
Still undecided is the party’s vice-presidential nominee. Delegates were scheduled to nominate a candidate Sunday afternoon to run on the ticket with Mr. Johnson, who has made no secret of his preference for former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld.
He urged delegates to support Mr. Weld, who entered the race about a week ago and has been accused by some delegates of being a “failed Republican” without a strong grounding in Libertarian principles.
Both Mr. Johnson and Mr. Weld are former Republicans.
“Bill Weld was my role model,” said Mr. Johnson, adding that Mr. Weld was criticized during his tenure as governor for being “pro-gay, pro-choice and pro-medical marijuana at a time when nobody else was talking about this.”
Without Mr. Weld on the ticket, he said, the party has little chance of clearing the 15 percent polling threshold necessary to qualify for presidential debates.
“If it’s not Bill Weld, I don’t think we have the opportunity of being elected president of the United States, and that is not to take anything away from any of the candidates up here on this stage,” Mr. Johnson said.
Already, he said, Mr. Weld has raised the party’s profile by making at least 25 national media appearances.
Also appearing on the second ballot for president were small-business owner Darryl Perry and anesthesiologist Marc Feldman, both of whom received less than 10 percent of the delegate total.