Libertarian Gary Johnson is bringing his third-party campaign to Georgia on Wednesday with a 6 p.m. rally in Midtown Atlanta.
The former New Mexico governor has continued to defy gravity in Georgia, pushing double-digits in the most recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll. And his popularity in Georgia is making the race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton a neck-and-neck showdown.
Johnson’s numbers have remained consistently high, falling only slightly from 11 percent in the AJC’s August poll to 9 percent in last week’s survey. If that seems tame, consider that Johnson barely managed to crack 1 percent of the vote when he ran in 2012. And Bob Barr, a longtime Georgia lawmaker, had little native-son bounce here. He didn’t pass the 1-percent threshold when he was the Libertarian Party’s nominee in 2008.
His visit to the Crowne Plaza Atlanta hotel could also bring a boost to Libertarian Allen Buckley’s Senate campaign. The AJC poll showed him pulling double digits in the race against U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson. If he can maintain that kind of support, a runoff between Isakson and Democrat Jim Barksdale seems likely. During his 2008 Senate campaign, Buckley forced a runoff between incumbent Saxby Chambliss and Democrat Jim Martin with about 3.4 percent of the vote.
Johnson and running-mate William Weld, a former Massachusetts governor, have not spent much time in the South this campaign. But Weld visited Atlanta last month, where he elaborated on the campaign’s strategy to target Trump over Clinton.
“Every time I say something nice about my old friend Hillary Clinton, everyone goes berserk and I get a thousand calls saying renounce your candidacy tomorrow and throw your support to Clinton,” Weld said in an interview. “To which I say, ‘Baloney, win your own election.”
He added: “We’re not doing it to do Mrs. Clinton any favors, we’re doing it because that’s where the votes are.”