Gary Johnson - Position Changes

We are not suggesting that position changes are good or bad. We understand they are important to voters, which is why we have included them. We list the current position as Now X (Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con) and the former position as Formerly Y (Pro, Con, or Not Clearly Pro or Con).
Now Con

"When I was younger, I supported capital punishment. I changed my mind because I recognized that the risks and costs associated with the death penalty are too high. I understand the eye-for-an-eye, tooth-for-a-tooth mentality but, realistically public policy should have room for mistakes. Killing one innocent person who was wrongly accused is not worth executing 99 guilty people. DNA evidence and judicial appeals have shown many people are mistakenly convicted."
Source: Gary Johnson, Seven Principles of Good Government, 2012

[Editor's Note: Gov. Johnson reportedly first publicly announced his opposition to the death penalty at a Jan. 16, 2002 news conference following his State of the State speech to the New Mexico State Legislature where he said in part: "I have to come to believe that the death penalty as a public policy is flawed… I believe that this country has put innocent people to death and that in the future this country will put innocent people to death."]

Formerly Pro

"I have no plans to render a stay on his execution. Terry Clark committed the crimes that he has been convicted of. I happen to think that's just punishment for him… I happen to support the death penalty for individuals who commit these types of crimes."
Source: Associated Press, "Governor: I Won't Stop Terry Clark Execution," Amarillo Globe-News, Aug. 28, 2001

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Now Not Clearly Pro or Con

"[W]e need to get rid of the income tax… We need to stop taxing work, savings and investment. I advocate removing all income taxes, all capital-gains taxes, and replacing them with a consumption tax, kind of a national sales tax called the Fair-tax.

We also need to get rid of payroll taxes… Some think the Fair-tax is regressive, but in fact it’s progressive - taxing the wealthy more than the poor. Fair-tax issues a ‘prebate’ for families to spend on food, clothing, transportation, medical care or whatever they want to spend it on - it’s their money."
Source: Gary Johnson, "Johnson: Let’s Get America Moving Again,", Feb. 2, 2012

Formerly Con

"When I talk about any of this, raising taxes is absolutely unacceptable."
Source:, "Former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-NM) CPAC 2011 Washington, DC February 11, 2011,", Feb. 11, 2011

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Now Pro

"[Natalie Leppard:] In 2012 we have you saying you were going to keep an open mind about fracking. I'm curious if you think now that fracking should be allowed?

[Gary Johnson:] I have spoken to my former environmental secretary… I thought he was terrific… and what he says regarding fracking is that it's only 10% effective, that there are environmental concerns, and that he believes that more research needs to be done on fracking. Number one, it could become much more effective, meaning it could have a much higher yield. So it sounds very pragmatic to me, but that would be where I'm at."

Source: Phone Interview with, June 14, 2016


"I'm going to keep an open mind on fracking because, you know, the fact that in Pennsylvania you should turn on your water faucet and, before fracking took place, water came out of there, and now you can light it [on fire], that’s a real concern.”
Source: Gary Johnson Channel, "Gov. Gary Johnson - University of California Town Hall Q&A (2011-11-17),", May 1, 2012

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Now Pro

"I've come to find out that without mandatory vaccines, that the vaccines that would in fact be issued would not be effective... it's dependent that you have mandatory vaccines so that every child is immune. Otherwise, not all children will be immune even though they receive a vaccine. So, in my opinion, this is a local issue. If it ends up to be a federal issue, I would come down on the side of science and I would probably require that vaccine. [The position change is] an evolution actually just in the last few months, just in the last month or so. I was always under the belief that requiring vaccines, 'Why require a vaccine? If I don't want my child to have a vaccine and you want yours to, let yours have the vaccine and they'll be immune.' Well, it turns out that that's not the case, and it may sound terribly uninformed on my part, but I didn't realize that."
Source: Taylor Dobbs, "In Reversal, Gov. Gary Johnson Now Supports Mandatory Vaccination,", Aug. 24, 2016

Formerly Con

"No to mandatory vaccines."
Source: Gary Johnson, Twitter post,, Sep. 12, 2011

Back to present position