Jim Cole / AP file
Libertarian presidential candidate, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson on Saturday won what he called his first foray into a statewide Libertarian presidential race.
Johnson, who dropped out of the Republican presidential race in December to seek the Libertarian Party nomination, garnered 42 of the 60 Florida delegate votes cast in the straw poll, state Libertarian party finance co-chief Chris Hill told msnbc.com.
The vote was cast after Johnson and five other Libertarian candidates held a debate.
Johnson, who had campaigned extensively throughout the state in the week before the convention, told msnbc.com after the debate that he found the issues on voters’ minds “not different here than anywhere else.”
“The country’s in really deep trouble,” Johnson said.
He said the Republican and Democratic parties contributed equally to woes centered around too much spending and regulation.
He reiterated promises to submit a balanced budget to Congress for 2013 and cut federal spending by 43 percent.
“Our country is not immune to monetary collapse,” he said. “The resulting inflation that is going to hit us … will be catastrophic.”
He also repeated a call for the “fair tax"– a progressive national sales tax – to replace federal personal income and corporate taxes.
“It reboots the American economy,” Johnson said, making Americans more savings driven and less consumptive driven.
He said he takes the best of both established parties in calling himself a fiscal conservative and social liberal.
Johnson has supported same-sex marriage, abortion rights and looser immigration rules. As governor from 1995 to 2003, he sought legalization of marijuana. He also touts his 750 vetoes of spending bills in New Mexico, which he left with a $1 billion surplus. He has opposed the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Keep the government out of the bedroom,” said Johnson, who backed Republican Ron Paul in 2008. He said he still has similar viewpoints as Paul does on many issues but not all of them.
“I don’t see Ron Paul getting the nomination,” Johnson said, adding he wouldn’t support Paul even if he did get the GOP nod.
“No way. I’d still continue to talk about these issues,” he said. “People need to hear it from more than one source.”
Supporter Hill said he hopes voters nationwide will hear Libertarians’ “common-sense” approach to issues at national debates if his party can garner 15 percent support in polls.
A Libertarian candidate has never received more than 1 percent in a U.S. presidential election, according to NBCMiami.com.