Conor Friedersdorf, blogging at the Dish, has a good post about about how former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson should be taken seriously as a 2012 Republican presidential candidate.
Here's another note about Johnson, and one that's been pointed out frequently in the past: he's a big marijuana legalizer. Johnson has spoken out on the issue, and as a libertarian, he's made it something of a personal issue. In this 2001 interview with Reason, he talks about having smoked marijuana and how a line should be drawn on how the laws work. Last year, he spoke at the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in his home state.
Coincidentally, supporters of marijuana legalization are excited about what a Johnson presidential bid could do for their cause.
Liberal blogger Jane Hamsher, who just launched a marijuana mobilization initiative through the activist arm of Firedoglake, brought Johnson up in an interview about legalization. Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of Drug Policy Alliance (one of the most prominent marijuana and drug-reform groups) told me today that a Johnson run "has the potential to stir up debate and discussion in the Republican Party about marijuana."
The 2012 Republican field could be an interesting one, sporting some issues we don't normally hear about from GOP candidates. Retired GOP consultant Fred Karger will try to stay afloat for Iowa and New Hampshire to push gay marriage into the discussion; a Gary Johnson run could conceivably do the same thing for libertarian changes in drug policy, at a time when legalization of marijuana in California seems more plausible than one might assume.