New Mexico remembers Gary Johnson as the two-term governor, 1995-2003, who vetoed more legislative bills than maybe all 49 other governors.
By his count Johnson signed more than 750 vetoes. That left the state's Democrats and Republicans frustrated by what they thought of as gridlock rather than good government.
We typically agreed with Johnson's assessment.
He left the governor's office due to term limits but has popped up on the national political landscape this year as the presidential frontrunner among libertarians.
And in a March 22 poll, Public Policy Polling reported 7 percent of respondents said they would vote for Johnson over Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
Forty-six percent picked Obama to 39 percent for Romney, and 8 percent were undecided.
We don't expect Johnson to seriously challenge for the presidency, but we welcome the two major parties to adopt many of his ideas.
"He would balance the budget that's for sure," said Clovis' Walter Bradley, Johnson's lieutenant governor all eight years.
"He got a balanced budget (required in New Mexico). He put money in the bank. We were one of only four states with money in the bank (when he left office)."
If the unheard of happened and Johnson somehow was elected president, Bradley said "the No. 1 best thing is we would see absolute reality-driven business sense in running the country."
"We all know there is a tremendous amount of fat in government, and he is not afraid; he will cut it."
Johnson sounds like an old-school fiscal Republican, but it is his social agendas that have kept him out of most of the GOP debates. For example, his campaign website states:
- "Abuse of hard drugs is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts."
- "Government should not impose its values upon marriage. It should allow marriage equality, including gay marriage."
Johnson believes government has an important role, Bradley said, especially in providing infrastructure such as roads, and fire and police protection.
But he believes Washington collects and spends far too many tax dollars, including on the military front. From his website: "Maintaining a strong national defense is the most basic of the federal government's responsibilities. However, building schools, roads, and hospitals in other countries are not among those basic obligations. … There is nation-building and rebuilding to be done right here at home."
Bradley said he disagrees with Johnson on several issues, especially on the social side. But he loves the man's straightforward approach to even the most controversial issues.
"He is clear as a bell, transparent as he can be," Bradley said.
Wouldn't that be a revolutionary transformation in Washington, D.C.?