Libertarian candidate Johnson holds rally in Streetsboro

Kelly Maile

Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson said he knows he has no shot of winning the presidential election, but he hopes to make a name for his party’s movement.

The former Republican governor of New Mexico said for every time 5,000 people say Obama’s name, his name is mentioned once. Johnson is on the ballot in 48 states, he’s a write-in in Michigan and he’s not on the ballot at all in Oklahoma. Johnson knows his number of supporters doesn’t compare to those of Romney or Obama.

Even though Johnson may not be as well known, more than 1,000 people showed up to see the governor at a rally at Stringz and Wingz in Streetsboro.

The crowd was mostly white males, who don’t sway liberal or conservative but tend to sit in the middle on social and financial issues. However, the libertarian party is popular among of those who support the legalization of marijuana.

Ben Stover, 24, of Louisville, said he was a Democrat but has issues with Obama and plans to vote for Johnson.

“The two main parties are out of control,” Stover said. “These parties are going to be the downfall of this country because even though they really are similar, they pretend that they’re not and don’t ever agree. This is not the way our forefathers intended our country to be.”

One of the issues that matters most to Stover is the legalization of hemp and cannabis.

“Hemp and marijuana have so many uses that not legalizing them is a waste of valuable resources and potential revenue,” Stover said. “Marijuana and hemp can be taxed when it’s sold, which will help reduce our deficit.”

Candidate Johnson agreed that the libertarian party is known as the “pot party” and said he plans to legalize if he wins.

For the past 40 years, Johnson said the libertarian party has been pro-cannabis, and the issue has reached the tipping point. He hopes that this will attract followers for upcoming elections.

He also talked about his support for a woman’s right to choose and how government needs to be less involved so people can have more freedom.

“From a federal government standpoint, the federal government should get out of education completely,” Johnson said. “Guaranteed government student loans are responsible for college tuition being so high. You have an artificial market that makes colleges and universities immune from lower pricing.”

His freedom movement and ideas of women’s health attract some female voters, although they are still a minority in the libertarian party.

Elizabeth Genter, 32, of Centerville said in the past two months, her Facebook page, Women for Gary Johnson, saw a spike in likes, going from 350 to 880. She said she thinks Johnson idea of “a woman being responsible for herself is a good policy to have.”

“Everything that I’ve read about Thomas Jefferson, that he was a soft spoken guy until you got him off on something that he was passionate about, it matches Johnson’s personality and love for his family,” Genter said. “I want another Thomas Jefferson as president. Gary Johnson 2012.”

Johnson is running on a platform where he said he’s not like Obama financially but he’s not like Romney socially. He said he plans to limit the role of government and put people in charge of their own lives.

Johnson said that his goal for this election is to take votes away from Romney and Obama because he believes neither candidate will make changes necessary for this country. Johnson plans to run again in 2016 and hopes for a bigger following.

Maura Zurick contributed reporting.

Contact Kelly Maile at [email protected].