Two-time former New Mexico governor and Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson joined the race for the New Mexico senate seat on August 15. Less than a week ago.

A new poll came out on Monday that shows Johnson in second place already at 21%, well ahead of the GOP candidate and gaining ground on the Democrat incumbent.

Emerson College conducted the poll between August 17-18 so it didn’t take long for citizens of New Mexico to embrace Johnson.

https://www.emerson.edu/sites/default/files/Files/Academics/ecp-pr-nm-8.19.18.pdf

Incumbent Democrat Senator Martin Heinrich won with 39% and GOP candidate Mick Rich only polled at 11%. It gets better for Gary:

Republicans appear split, with 27% voting for Johnson and 25% for Rich. Independents are also split but among these voters Heinrich is at 32%, Johnson 25%, and Rich at 7%. Heinrich leads with Democrats getting 60% of their vote, with Rich at 3%, Johnson pulls 13% of Democrats.

Johnson hasn’t even started campaigning yet!

The Republicans control the senate by one seat. Only one. Johnson will be a Libertarian, but more than likely he will caucus with the GOP and vote with them on more issues than Heinrich.

With Johnson in the Senate, obviously more people will have exposure to us libertarians. You want to drain the swamp? Vote in more small-government minded people like Johnson and Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI).

Johnson’s win will make him the first Libertarian elected official in history. Aubrey Dunn, New Mexico’s Land Commissioner, became the first Libertarian statewide elected official. He actually ran for the New Mexico senate seat, but graciously step aside when polling showed Johnson pulling in decent numbers.

Matt Welch at Reason expanded more on this:

For the L.P., having a first elected federal official would be a watershed event, replacing overnight nearly five decades of conjecture with the concrete. Elected Libertarians such as Nebraska State Sen. Laura Ebke (a party-switcher) and Calimesa Mayor and Riverside County Board of Supervisors candidate Jeff Hewitt (technically a nonpartisan, though his affiliation is nobody’s secret) are already demonstrating that Libertarians as legislative swing voters can accomplish real policy victories on the state and local level. A federal Leviathan run by a mercantilist who is bringing back the bad old days of $1 trillion annual deficits is more than ripe for libertarian-flavored reform.

I blogged about Johnson’s entry last week not only because the announcement warmed my black Libertarian heart, but because I believed Johnson has a real chance because of his success as governor:

After he left in 2003, “the size of state government had been substantially reduced and New Mexico was enjoying a large surplus.” From The Washington Times:

As governor, Mr. Johnson maintains he worked overtime to do just that, issuing an astonishing 685 vetoes in his eight years in office – more than the combined total of vetoes by the nation’s other 49 governors in those same eight years.

“Any time someone approached him about legislation for some purpose, his first response always was to ask if government should be involved in that to begin with,” said former New Mexico Republican National Committee member Mickey Barnett.

In 2001, he told Reason his biggest accomplishments as governor, which includes roads:

Reason: What do you consider your major accomplishments as governor of New Mexico?

Johnson: Building 500 miles of four-lane highway in the state. We have reduced taxes by about $123 million annually. More significantly, before my taking office there was never a set of six years in the state of New Mexico where not a single tax had gone up. We reformed Medicaid and got Medicaid costs under control. We built a couple of new, private prisons in New Mexico. We had prisoners housed out of state, and the federal court system had been running prisons in New Mexico under a consent decree since 1980. We are now out from under that consent decree. We have approximately 1,200 fewer employees in state government today than we did when I took office.

Reason: What’s the thinking behind your road building programs? Traditionally those are often pork projects.

Johnson: Economic growth occurs only if you are connected with a four-lane highway. A lot of New Mexico is rural, and building 500 miles of four-lane highway is going to make a huge economic difference to all those communities. Basically, now we have connected every town in New Mexico with 30,000 people.

To save money, we looked at private alternatives in building the roads. The highway project on Highway 44, which is Albuquerque to Farmington, is designed, financed, built, and guaranteed by a private company. This is completely unique. We are actually the first state in the United States to adopt an innovative financing program for Highway 44, by bonding federal revenues. As a result, other states are copying it, and Wall Street is embracing it.