Johnson Exits GOP Race to Run as Libertarian Libertarian Party welcomes former NM gov By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff Posted Dec 20, 2011 11:31 PM CST Updated Dec 21, 2011 4:00 AM CST 18 comments Comments Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson files his papers to be in the New Hampshire primary. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) (Newser) – Forgot Gary Johnson was seeking the Republican presidential nomination? You wouldn't be alone—which probably explains why the former New Mexico governor has decided to drop his GOP bid and seek the Libertarian nomination instead, according to Politico. Johnson never made much of an impact on the Republican race—despite efforts to attract attention that included a bicycle tour of New Hampshire and ads likening himself to Ron Paul—and took part in only one major debate. Libertarian Party officials, who recently said they were still hoping Ron Paul and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura would seek their party's nomination, welcomed the switch. “I’m always delighted when the Republican Party drives Republicans out of their party and into the Libertarian Party," said the party's executive director. A recent poll in New Mexico found that up to 30% of GOP voters in New Mexico would vote for Johnson as a Libertarian candidate, helping President Obama win the state by a 17-point margin.