Libertarians say election turmoil creates opportunity for their party in Utah

Posted at 9:47 PM, Jun 17, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY -- In a law office that at sits above Doctor John's Lingerie Store, Andy McCullough spends his days defending the adult entertainment industry.

"Never in my wildest dreams intended to do anything like that," McCullough said. "I'm a nice Mormon boy. I live in Utah County. I've never had a cup of coffee."

During his free time, he chairs Utah’s Libertarian Party.

"Because of the turmoil elsewhere, we have a chance this year to be heard," McCullough said.

Utah is one of a handful of states where Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson plans to focus his energies, according to his campaign manager, Ron Nielson.

"I think the difference is Trump," Nielson said. "There's just not a lot of support for Donald Trump in the state of Utah."

In a poll released this week by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics, 13 percent of voters plan on backing Johnson while Clinton and Trump are deadlocked at 35 percent each.

"They're looking around, and some people have said, 'Well, I’ll stay home,'" McCullough said. "Some people have said, 'Is there really an alternative out there?'"

A Utah favorite who is at least considering voting for the alternative is Mitt Romney. The LA Times reports Romney has said he wants to get to know Johnson better to see if he is someone he could support.

"If he did, it would be a game changer: an awful lot of people would come running," McCullough said.

It's not the easiest alternative for Utah’s conservative voters. While the party is fiscally conservative, libertarians have liberal social views, like legalizing marijuana.

"Certainly people who are not happy elsewhere have to look at us. What else are they going to do?" McCullough said.

"The disenfranchised voters just aren't happy, so running two very credible governors to run as a third-party is a great option," Nielson said.

Gary Johnson’s headquarters are located in Salt Lake City, and he'll be here shooting his national campaign commercials on Monday.