The Libertarian Party nominated an impressive ticket, on paper at least, at their convention on Sunday. They handed the presidential nomination to former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson and selected former Massachusetts governor William Weld to be his running mate.
Johnson and Weld are going to have to raise money, and lots of it, if they want to compete with the well-financed campaigns of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. It appears they will be getting some help.
Politico reports that last weekend the Johnson campaign began wooing big-name GOP donors who oppose Trump. Among the first ones Johnson won over were Paul and Laura Holmes Jost. During the GOP presidential primaries, they gave nearly $500,000 to super PACs that supported Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Both Josts wrote Johnson checks worth $2,700, the maximum allowable amount.
Johnson also got some reinforcement from another former Rand Paul super PAC. Ed Crane, the co-founder of the Cato Institute, announced he was reactivating his Purple PAC. As of its last FEC filing at the end of March, it had a little over $363,000 in the bank. That’s well over the $65,000 that the pro-Trump Great America PAC has on hand (disclosure: the writer is a contributor for a site administered by Great America PAC’s treasurer, Dan Backer), though the Trump campaign has also disavowed Great America PAC.
But Priorities USA, the main Hillary Clinton super PAC, has almost $47 million in the bank as of the end of April.
Gary Johnson is going to have to fill his coffers quickly. His campaign as of its last FEC filing had less than $15,000 in the bank. According to that report, Johnson has only received 14 checks for the maximum amount of $2,700. He will need more donors, big and small, in order to keep pace with the hundreds of millions both Clinton and Trump are expected to raise and spend.
The Johnson campaign hopes William Weld will be able to help with that. Weld has numerous big donor contacts and served as a fundraiser for Mitt Romney in 2012. Romney has also refused to endorse Trump.
Johnson has never been a prolific fundraiser, netting less than $2.8 million in 2012. He will have to up his fundraising game significantly if he wants to make an impact.
But this year is probably the best chance he’ll have for raising money, with two highly unpopular major party presidential nominees. The July fundraising reports will show whether Johnson has been successful or not.