Their records as governors show that Johnson and Weld like their policies and programs to be more “concrete”.
It looks like we won’t be entertained by the crisis-circus of a brokered Republican convention after all: a safe alternative has arrived for Republicans who just can’t stand the thought of Trump actually winning the nomination. The Libertarian Party has stepped up with what they think is the winning ticket: former Republican-but-Libertarian-leaning governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld.
On CNN, Johnson cut a cool figure in a slightly rumpled suit and Brooklyn-cool black Nikes (Chris Cuomo’s comments about them, and the shoe’s free advertising close-up moment, were unfortunately removed from the posted clip). Johnson referred to himself and Weld as “two-term Republican governors in blue states who made names for [them]selves by being fiscally conservative”. But, hey, don’t get scared about that conservative label, because they’re not uptight, really, they’re cool – they’re socially liberal. Wait! Not the Democrat kind of liberal! Nawwwww…when they say liberal, they mean liberal in the laid-back, you-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine,
free love free market kind of way, which is why each and every time they tell you that they’re socially liberal they will immediately pivot to talking about drug policy and decriminalizing marijuana so you will continue to think of them as cool dudes, not covert Dems.
Fiscally conservative, socially liberal…after all the god-awful caterwauling of the primary races this past year, these two neat boys in suits with a calm, maybe toke-induced, laid-back mood seem so soothing, so…cool.
I hate to harsh your mellow, but a Gary Johnson-Bill Weld ticket is not libertarian.
Bechtel, Kiewit, Fluor, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and all the other big construction conglomerates are secretly swooning like drunken satyrs at the possibility of this presidential win. Johnson’s qualifications are so…big:
He knows the business: Gary Johnson founded his own construction firm, Big J Enterprises, in New Mexico in 1976. When Big J received a large contract from Intel for their Rio Rancho expansion, doing most of the internal construction work on the building, it increased their revenues to $38 million and the business took off, eventually growing into a multi-million dollar corporation employing more than 1,000 employees. Johnson bragged:
“During the 1993 to 1995 (Intel) expansion, that was the largest construction project in the world at the time, $3.5 billion, and we had 750 people directly involved in it.”
He believes blindness in government (trusts, justice, bidding) is really just a lot of winking: when Johnson was elected governor of New Mexico in 1995, he put Big J in a “blind trust” and handed management of that company over to his longtime friend and campaign treasurer Harold Field, who became its vice president and treasurer as well as trustee of the “blind trust”. Field stepped up to the role of president in March of 1996, when Robert Morando, who had originally been appointed president, left. Morando left because he wanted to “return to consulting“, which turned out to be a consulting contract with the Governor’s office on government reorganization.
He knows how to retaliate when contract awards aren’t steered right: Big J was notified in April 1995 that the regents of New Mexico Tech had decided not to award a contract to them based on their bid for a “general contractor services” contract worth about $500,000. Three weeks later, the regents who had argued for awarding the contract instead to a firm based in Socorro (where the university is located) as opposed to Big J (which was in Albuquerque) received letters from the Governor’s Office terminating their terms on the university board. The regents sued, and the case went to the state Supreme Court, which directed that the regents could remain on the board until their successors were duly nominated by Johnson and confirmed by the state Senate.
He has experience skirting conflict-of-interest rules: In 1996, Field said Big J would not directly bid for state contracts, to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest. However, Big J attorneys believed the company could work on state projects as a subcontractor. When it became a subcontractor on a $3.3 million state building project in 1998, though, Big J became big news.
He knows how to take care of friends: in August 1999, Johnson sold Big J Enterprises to Richard Teater, a former executive with Fluor Daniel, a division of Fluor, one of the world’s largest construction companies. Teater became president and CEO of Big J, and announced that former president Harold Field will remain with the company, “as will all other employees of Big J”. In 2000, Johnson appointed Field to be his Secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration.
Finally, he knows how to spread the construction wealth: other accomplishments during his two terms include building two new private prisons, privatizing half of the existing state prisons, and signing a $1.2 billion highway improvement package to upgrade 500 miles of state roads.
Joining Johnson with huge expertise of his own is William Weld, who as governor of Massachusetts from 1991-1997 presided over much of Boston’s Central Artery/Tunnel megaproject, which was nicknamed the Big Dig. The Big Dig was a Caligula-esque, do-it-in-the-road construction orgy of contract change orders and cost overruns that stands as the most expensive highway project in the US.
The construction phase of the Big Dig began in 1991, when this “fiscal conservative” began his first term as governor. The project was originally scheduled to be completed in 1998 at an estimated cost of $2.8 billion (in 1982 dollars, $6.0 billion adjusted for inflation as of 2006). However, the project was completed in December 2007, at a cost of over $14.6 billion – a cost overrun (as of 2006) of about 190%.
How could Weld, who had come to office waving a budget-slashing scimitar, have turned into a bigger spender than his predecessor? “Anyone who looks at this budget,” said State Representative Tom Finneran, the moderate Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, “will see Mike Dukakis, a foot taller, with a different shade of hair. The governor is doing everything he accused Dukakis of.”
Jacoby questions Weld’s conservative cojones:
Just how committed Weld ever really was to “taming the beast” is open to question. Like sunspots, his anti-government zeal flares up at intervals. When Weld is running for office, that zeal is pronounced; thereafter it largely subsides. On the campaign trail in 1990 and 1994, he fervently attacked government’s wasteful, oppressive ineptitude. Once the votes were counted, he seemed to find government much less offensive.
Like Johnson, he has experience flouting conflicts of interest: Weld’s chief fundraiser, Peter Berlandi, was the consultant for the Bechtel Corporation, the lead contractor which managed the Central Artery project.
Finally, Weld also knows how to spread the construction wealth: in addition to the general oversight by a partnership between Bechtel and Parsons Brinckerhoff, other major heavy-construction contractors on the project included Jay Cashman, Modern Continental, Obayashi Corporation, Perini Corporation, Peter Kiewit Sons’ Incorporated, J.F. White, and the Slattery division of Skanska USA. There were other projects tied to the Big Dig as well. Massachusetts was required under the Federal Clean Air Act to mitigate air pollution generated by the Big Dig highway improvements. Naturally everyone involved was eager to keep the air clean, and thus many projects involving restoring and upgrading service on commuter rail and subway lines were undertaken, including such air fresheners as the restoring of commuter rail service to historic Newburyport on the North Shore, developing MBTA Silver Line service to the South Boston waterfront and Boston’s World Trade Center, and restoring three Old Colony Commuter Rail lines extending down to and throughout Cape Cod.
Johnson-Weld. Hell, it even sounds like a construction company. It’s a presidential ticket made in procurement heaven. It’s the party of the purse, the party of the payoff, the party of pay-to-play – it’s the Construction Libertines, under the laid-back leadership of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld!
Once the votes are counted, and the big boys are in office, then the real party will begin.