By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Libertarian presidential candidate and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson has selected retired California Judge Jim Gray, a prominent marijuana legalization advocate, to be his running mate.
Judge Gray's selection "puts pot front-and-center in the campaign," a Johnson campaign staffer told Will Rahn of The Daily Caller, before adding that the campaign's defining issue will likely remain Johnson's opposition to the war in Afghanistan.
"The thought process all along has been to find somebody that can articulate libertarian ideals and beliefs and I've thought all along that he would be a really solid pick," Johnson told Reason's Garrett Quinn late Sunday night.
"I agreed to run only if we were going to run to win," Judge Gray said. "I am not going to do this 'Let's have a moral victory' stuff. I believe, and I think he agrees, that we have a good, solid 1 1/2 percent chance of winning this election."
Judge Gray served in the Peace Corps, was an attorney in the Navy JAG Corps, and prosecuted cases for the Los Angeles U.S. Attorney's office, according to a biography on his website. He ran as a Libertarian against California Democratic Senator Barbra Boxer in 2004.
The judge was picked after several other possible choices for Johnson's running mate -- including Fox News regular Judge Andrew Napolitano, former California Rep. Barry Goldwater, Jr., and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson -- had all turned the position down.
But a campaign staffer claimed Judge Gray was "Johnson's favorite from the beginning."
"Gary had liked him from the very beginning," a staffer said. "Every time we would bring up somebody else, Gov. Johnson would say, 'What about Jim Gray?' "
Gray, a former conservative Republican, became a Libertarian after deciding that the drug laws do more harm than good. He has written several books bout law, politics and the Drug War, and was a prominent supporter of Prop 19, which would have legalized marijuana if it had passed in 2010, but lost by a 54 percent to 46 percent margin.
"I was a drug warrior until I saw what was happening in my own courtroom," Judge Gray said in 2010.
Johnson and Gray will be on the general election ballot in at least 49 states if they secure the Libertarian Party nomination. Johnson has 15 percent support in his home state of New Mexico in a matchup against Barack Obama and apparent GOP nominee Mitt Romney, according to a recent Public Policy Polling survey.
If Johnson can pull down five percent of the vote nationwide this year, the Libertarian Party's candidate in the 2016 presidential election will get $90 million in federal funding, the Johnson staffer told The Daily Caller.
Johnson originally ran as a Republican candidate for president. He's now considered the front-runner in the Libertarian Party nomination. The financially strapped third party will formally select its nominees for president and vice president at a convention in Las Vegas this week.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.