Third-party candidate gains momentum

Gary Johnson and William Weld

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have a lot of supporters leading up to the first presidential debate, but many people are choosing not to vote for either of them.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson and his running mate, former governor of Massachusetts William Weld, are gaining momentum for the Libertarian Party.

According to certain polls, Johnson is polling at 15 percent in Colorado. If he can average that number nationwide in the next few weeks, Johnson will be able to participate in the presidential debate.

A limited time online fundraising event raised more than $1.7 million for their campaign recently.

"It really irritates me when people tell me I'm throwing away my vote," said Tony Gioia. He has been a registered Republican for years, but during this election, he, like many others, is looking outside of the two major parties.

"If I'm going to support a Republican candidate, it's going to be because they represent the views of the Republican Party that I joined. Donald Trump does not," Gioia said.

11 News spoke to a Johnson/Weld campaign representative Monday night.

"So far what we've found -- and we believe this will ultimately be the case -- we're actually appealing almost the same to both sides. Poll after poll has shown that we draw almost equally from Democrats and Republicans," said Joe Hunter with the Johnson/Weld campaign.

Both Republican and Democratic local organizers told 11 News that they understand why some voters may want to look for other options.

"If the actual major parties are not representing you, then you have the opportunity to chose another candidate that best reflects the views that you want," said James A. Clark Jr., a volunteer with the El Paso County Democrats.

Both parties also said they aren't too concerned about losing potential votes to Johnson.

"So many of our Republican electorate, they wanted somebody who was an outsider. They wanted a non-politician and that's not Gary Johnson," said Jeff Hays, chairman of the El Paso County Republican Party.

11 News also spoke with UCCS political science Professor Josh Dunn. He said if affiliated voters change their minds for the Libertarian Party, it will likely be Republicans.

"There probably aren't a lot of Democratic voters out there that are going to look at the Libertarian candidate favorably since Libertarians are more opposed to government than anyone else," said Dunn.

Johnson's campaign said if they make it into the debate in September, it will be a game changer for the election.

"Governor Johnson says it best when he says, 'Throwing away a vote is voting for someone you don't believe in,'" said Hunter.

At the time this article was posted, Johnson was polling an average of 10 percent.

The latest polls show Clinton at 43.6 percent and Trump at 35.8 percent.