Can't stand Hillary or Trump? Here's 8 things to know about Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson who's gaining steam across U.S.

Johnson ditched the GOP in 2012, wants to legalize pot and is an amazing athlete

Published May 26, 2016 3:01PM (EDT)

Gary Johnson (AP/Rick Bowmer)
Gary Johnson (AP/Rick Bowmer)

A branch of hope for those who can't stand Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump has appeared in the form of Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

The 63-year-old politician former governor and businessman  — who Nate Silver 's FiveThirtyEight  said to "pay attention to" — has been polling in double digits in general-election matchups.

Johnson is heavily favored to win at this weekend's Libertarian nominating convention and is currently taking 10 percent of the vote from both Trump and Clinton, so here are 8 things you need to know about Johnson:

1. During his two terms as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, he was nicknamed "Governor Veto," as Johnson vetoed 200 of the 424 bills approved by the state legislature. He vetoed more bills than all the other 49 state governors combined, setting a state record.

2. He was a student at the University of New Mexico where he graduated in political science. During his studies, Johnson sustained himself financially by working as a door-to-door handyman and eventually founding Big J Enterprises in 1976. Today the original one-person venture has become New Mexico's largest construction company.

3. Johnson refers to himself as fiscally conservative but is socially liberal. He supports marijuana legalization, marriage equality, and abortion rights.

4. He ran as a Republican for president in 2012 but after failing to gain traction in the New Hampshire primary, withdrew his candidacy from the GOP nomination and announced he'd continue his campaign as a Libertarian instead.

5. He was the CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a company that sells medical marijuana, until January 2016. In 1999, Johnson was the highest-ranking elected official to advocate the legal marijuana, stating the war on drugs was "an expensive bust.” He's compared attempts to enforce drug laws with the failed attempt at alcohol prohibition and suggested drug abuse be treated as a medical issue, not a criminal one.

6. Johnson named former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld as his running mate, who has recently compared Trump’s immigration policies on Muslims to Kristallnacht.

7. Johnson filed a lawsuit against the Commission on Presidential Debates in 2012 and again in 2015, arguing that current rules make it too difficult for third party candidates to participate in presidential debates.

8. He's an incredible athlete. Johnson summited Mount Everest despite getting frost bite. He’s also competed in multiple Ironman races, and once ran 100 miles in 30 consecutive hours.  Also he was severely injured in 2005 when he hit a tree while paragliding.

By Antoaneta Roussi

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