Gary E. Johnson
|Gary E. Johnson|
|Governor of New Mexico|
From: January 1, 1995 – January 1, 2003
|Spouse(s)||Dee Johnson (1977-2005)|
Gary Earl Johnson (born January 1, 1953) is an entrepreneur who served as the Republican Governor of New Mexico from 1995 through 2003. He graduated from the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque in 1975 and would go on to launch his own business, Big J Enterprises, which became one of the most successful construction companies in New Mexico.
Johnson was elected Governor of New Mexico in 1994 and reelected in 1998, the first governor in state history to serve two consecutive four-year terms. As Governor he cut taxes 14 times (annually $123 million), vetoed over 750 bills (more than the other 49 governors combined), cut the rate of government growth in half, reduced welfare spending 30%, balanced the budget, eliminated the state's deficit, privatized half the state prisons, was a national advocate for school vouchers, while increased the budget for the state's education system and signed a $1.2 billion highway improvement package to upgrade 500 miles of state roads. When leaving office New Mexico had 1,200 fewer government employees. 
Johnson is pro-choice regarding abortion, although supports overturning Roe v. Wade, "It should be a states issue to begin with, the criteria for a Supreme Court justice would be that those justices rule on the original intent of the constitution. Given that, it's my understanding that justice would overturn Roe v. Wade." Johnson opposes a government-mandated definition of marriage (either recognizing or refusing to recognize same-sex marriages), saying "I think the government should be out of the marriage business and leave marriage to the churches." Instead, he supports civil unions for both same-sex and opposite-sex couples offering the same benefits currently granted to married couples, and feels it should be up to the churches and the private individuals to determine what is or isn't "marriage".
Johnson's positions are libertarian leaning and some of his views are outside the mainstream of the Republican Party, he opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq and supports reducing the defense budget by 44 to 90 percent from current levels. In 1999, Johnson became the highest-ranking elected official in the United States to advocate legalization of marijuana. He endorsed Ron Paul during the 2008 Presidential Election. Johnson has declared himself a candidate for the 2012 election.
Johnson is a triathlete and the first governor to compete in Hawaii's Ironman Triathlon.