Favored Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson has agreed to join forces with former Massachusetts Governor William Weld for the Libertarian Party's nomination. Weld will run for the party's vice presidential slot, possibly bolstering the third party's appeal to general election voters.
Weld was a popular governor in the 1990s with crossover appeal and could boost the legitimacy of a third-party option for voters disgruntled by presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
"It brings an enormous amount of credibility to what it is I'm doing," Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, said in a statement. "I'm unbelievably flattered by this and humbled."
The official announcement is expected Thursday morning.
Johnson was the party's nominee in 2012 and won 1.2 million votes, more than any previous Libertarian presidential candidate. Four years later he could be an even greater contender as some Republicans, including party leaders like Mitt Romney, have voiced their desire for an alternative presidential candidate to Trump. Weld could help him do that.
Weld, a fiscal conservative and social liberal, won two terms as a Republican in the heavily Democratic state of Massachusetts, including with 71 percent of the vote in his re-election. His political preferences have spanned the political spectrum. He endorsed fellow Massachusetts politician Romney in the last presidential election but supported Barack Obama in 2008.
But first, Weld, currently a consultant in Boston for ML Strategies, must appeal to Libertarian Party purists at the upcoming nominating convention. One component of his resume could help him do that: He entertained the idea of running for governor of New York as a Libertarian in 2006.
The Libertarian Party holds its nominating convention Memorial Day Weekend in Orlando, Florida. While Johnson is favored to win, it is expected to be a close race.
John McAfee, 70-year old cyber entrepreneur who was also being sought by police in Belize for a murder, is also running and has attracted support.
The party does not hold state-based primaries. Instead the nominee is chosen by party activists at the convention through a voting process of elimination. Rounds of voting occur until a candidate wins a majority of support.
“The convention can sometimes be unpredictable,” Nicholas Sarwark, chair of the Libertarian Party told NBC News. “In 2004, neither front runner won.”