SANTA FE, N.M. — Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a longshot candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, said Wednesday he is leaving the GOP in favor of running as a Libertarian.
Johnson told a news conference at the state Capitol that the decision was difficult, but that he was "deeply disappointed" by the treatment he received in the Republican nomination process.
"I had hoped to lay out a real libertarian message on all the issues in the Republican contest. The process was not fair and open," he said.
Johnson has been excluded from all but two GOP presidential debates. He also has barely registered in the polls.
The former two-term governor said that if he earns the Libertarian Party's presidential nomination, he will appear on the ballots in all 50 states and will not be "held hostage to a system rigged for the wealthiest and best-known candidates in a handful of states who happen to have early primaries."
Johnson is fiscally conservative but supports legalizing marijuana and abortion rights.
He laid out an agenda that also includes ending deficit spending and cutting federal spending by 43 percent. He called for ending gun control, ending expensive foreign wars, cutting over-regulation and legalizing gay marriage.
"I believe this election needs a true libertarian voice," he said. "While Ron Paul is a good man and a libertarian who I proudly endorsed for president in 2008, there is no guarantee that he will be the Republican nominee."