Republicans have been working hard to try to keep the Libertarian Party's candidate for president, Gary Johnson, off the ballot, although so far they've only succeeded in Michigan and Oklahoma.
Richard Nixon-style dirty tricks are the order of the day in Pennsylvania, the New York Times reports:
"Republicans in Pennsylvania hired a private detective to investigate his ballot drive in Philadelphia, appearing at the homes of paid canvassers and, in some cases, flashing an F.B.I. badge — he was a retired agent — while asking to review the petitions they gathered at $1 a signature, according to testimony in the case and interviews."
Republicans apparently fear that in a close election, Johnson could take away votes in a crucial state, much as Ralph Nader took votes away from Democrat Al Gore in 2000.
I'm not sure how accurate the analogy is. Johnson draws support from disillusioned Democrats as well as unhappy Republicans. I am a former Democrat who plans to vote for Johnson. There are other such persons. I doubt Nader took away many votes from George W. Bush.
Many of Johnson's issues, in fact, seem aimed at peeling off liberals from Obama's coalition. Here's an excerpt from one of his answers in his recent interview in Salon:
"I would not bomb Iran. I would get out of Afghanistan tomorrow, bring the troops home. I believe that marriage equality is a constitutionally guaranteed right. I would end the drug wars. I would advocate legalizing marijuana now. I would have never signed the Patriot Act. I would have never signed the National Defense Authorization Act allowing for arrests and detainment of you and me as U.S. citizens without being charged."
My February interview with Johnson is here. My colleague Andy Ouriel profiled all of the third party candidates on the ballot in Ohio; you can read his article here.