Johnson stuck with Weld despite massive opposition from his party. Weld has not returned the favor. Indeed, delegates at the Libertarian Party convention were on the verge of electing another candidate as Johnson’s running mate because they were unimpressed with Weld’s libertarian bona fides — and with good reason, it turns out.
As my Reason colleague Jesse Walker has noted, for a brief moment in 1991, Weld became a poster boy for libertarians who wanted to work for Republicans because he was a pro-gay, pro-choice governor who talked a good game on fiscal responsibility. But then he let state spending run up on his watch and turned into a law-and-order candidate who was squishy on gun rights and easy on the use of eminent domain. Libertarians rightfully soured on him.
Yet Johnson made a strong pitch for him at the convention, no doubt because he hoped that Weld’s policy chops, superior articulation skills, and fundraising prowess would strengthen the ticket. In fact, even Weld’s “impurity” was possibly an asset in that it would generate media interest and help mainstream the LP.
The Libertarian Party was never going to win. However, it had a rare opportunity to propel itself from the margins and become a political force to be reckoned with. But thanks to Johnson’s gaffes and Weld’s apostasy, things haven’t worked out that way.