There aren’t many active political offices being held by people from any party besides the Democratic or Republican party. Gary Johnson would be an exception to this convention. He is an author, businessman, and former front-line politician. He is also the founder of one of the largest construction companies operating in the state of New Mexico. Johnson was also the 29th Governor of New Mexico and former Presidential Candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2012 and in 2016.
Gary Johnson Wiki, Bio
Gary was raised in the city of Minot in North Dakota. His father, Earl Johnson worked as a public school teacher. His mom, Lorraine B. was a member of staff at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He was born on the first day of January in 1953. Johnson had his high school education at Sandia High School in Albuquerque. He gained admission into the University of New Mexico where he gained a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science. He pledged to the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity during his time there, where he spent four years from 1971 – 1975. It was at UNM that he met Denise Simms, who would later be his wife.
He was inspired to launch his own venture after his time in school where he combined study with a side gig as a door-to-door handyman. Gary Johnson launched his own mechanical contracting business in 1976. He named it Big J Enterprises and was the only employee in the beginning.
His entrepreneurial “light at the end of the tunnel” came when Johnson was awarded a large contract by Intel’s expansion out in Rio Rancho. This singular contract skyrocketed Big J Enterprises’ Revenue to $38 million.
Johnson would later sell the company in 1999 for a tidy sum but not before growing it into a multi-million dollar business employing over 1000 people. After the Intel deal, he even had to take a time management course which he says helped make him heavily goal-oriented and driven.
By this time he was already heavily involved in politics and was in his first term as the governor of New Mexico. Gary launched his gubernatorial campaign in 1994 with $500,000 of his own money under the slogan “People before Politics”. He proposed to lead with a “common-sense business approach” if elected. He talked about bringing tax cuts, creating jobs, cutting budget growth, and law and order. Johnson beat all his opponents including the incumbent, Bruce King to the office.
He proposed a lot of tax cuts in his first budget but was only able to pass the gasoline tax cut of 6-cents-on the gallon. However, he also nearly tripled spending on education. During his re-election campaign, he won by a wider margin than in his first campaign. He did this majorly promising to continue along the lines of his first tenure.
By the end of his two terms in office, he was largely regarded as a strong leader who through his administrative efforts has left the state fiscally solid. He left office with New Mexico going from excess government spending to having a budget deficit of $1billion
Johnson was once quoted as saying that he was a Republican who was not interested in running for the presidency. This statement came in the wake of the Libertarian Party’s efforts to draft him as their ticket holder for the 2000 Presidential elections.
After his time as Governor, he would stay away from active politics for a time. He endorsed Ron Paul for the Republican Presidential ticket in 2008. This was because, like him, Ron was committed to less government spending and greater liberty, and lasting prosperity for all Americans.
During his non-active time, he wrote a book titled Seven Principles of Good Government. He also served on the Advisory Council of a non-profit student body, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, which was advocating for changes in drug policy. He also had a stint on the board of Directors of Students for Liberty, a non-profit libertarian organization.
Johnson announced in 2011 that he would be taking a shot at the Presidential seat. However, after he posted poor performances in the Republican polls and failing to qualify for the debates, he switched allegiance and ran under the Libertarian Party. He won the party’s nomination. However, he would go on to win just 0.99% – 1,275,971 popular votes -which was still the best result ever in the history of the party.
Johnson won the Liberty Party’s nomination again in 2016 but failed again during the election proper.
Gary Johnson’s Wife
Johnson met his wife Dee Simms during his time at the University of New Mexico. They got married in 1977, two years after Johnson left UNM and they have two children. They were married until they divorced in 2005. During her time as First Lady of New Mexico, she was active in campaigns against smoking and for the awareness of breast cancer.
Dee Johnson died on December 22, 2006, from hypertensive heart disease.
In 2012, Gary Johnson got engaged again. His partner is a real estate agent by the name of Kate Prusack who he met in 2009. According to her, the reason they are not married is that Gary is always on the road.
Heart Attack and Tongue Stunts, Net Worth
Gary Johnson is a businessman and politician. However, sometimes he does have a way of going against the grain by displaying a flair for the theatrical. The event that readily comes to mind is of a video that surfaced where Gary feigned a heart attack. It was a video filmed in February 2015 of Gary Johnson at the Conservative Political Action Conference. He was debating the legalization of marijuana.
U.S Rep. Anne Marie Buerkle made an incorrect statement about heart attack rates for marijuana users. Gary Johnson, instead of replying her, clutched his chest and buckled over on stage. This video surfaced at just the right time, helping some undecided voters chose to vote for the Libertarian party during the 2016 Presidential election.
Another video of Gary’s had gone viral prior to the “heart attack” joke. This time though, it worked against him. Johnson had stuck out his tongue through his teeth during an MSNBC interview with Kasie Hunt. He was asked how a debate berth would work to win him the election. He replied that he could say nothing throughout the debate and still emerge as the winner.
Johnson’s pre-political career as a businessman definitely earned him a lot of money in the bank. His current net worth is between $3million and $10 million.