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Former presidential candidate Gary Johnson enters U.S. Senate race in New Mexico

Conservative Review

Failed Libertarian Party presidential candidate and former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson has tossed his hat into the ring to run for U.S. Senate, seeking to defeat incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M.

On Tuesday afternoon, Johnson made his late entry into the race official, tweeting "New Mexico deserves a strong, independent voice in the U.S. Senate" and sharing his first campaign ad.

The biographical ad, titled "You Know Gary Johnson," was paid for by Elect Liberty, a pro-Johnson political action committee based in Utah.

The Libertarian Party of New Mexico recruited Johnson to run after its candidate, State Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, dropped out of the race. While Johnson had previously said he would "never" be a candidate again after only attracting three percent of the national popular vote in 2016, he apparently changed his mind.

Johnson's candidacy has sparked immediate reaction from both Heinrich's Democratic campaign and the Republican campaign for candidate Mark Rich as political pundits speculate over whom Johnson is more likely to draw support from.

Rich blasted Johnson Tuesday, telling the Santa Fe New Mexican that Johnson's socially liberal positions will draw votes from Heinrich and saying Johnson is “more in sync with [Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders] than he is with Republicans." Rich is likely quoting Johnson himself, who said in 2016 that a political ideology test showed he agreed with the socialist from Vermont on "73 percent of the issues."

Heinrich's campaign released a memo criticizing Johnson's record and saying he “wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act and gut Medicare and Medicaid by almost half," the New Mexican reports.

A poll released by a Democratic firm employed by the Heinrich campaign shows the incumbent Democrat leading a three-way race with 47 percent support, compared to Rich's 29 percent and Johnson's 22 percent.

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