Following the selection this morning of ex-New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as their presidential nominee, Libertarian Party members gathered in Las Vegas named Orange County's Jim Gray as the party's vice presidential choice.
Gray--a well-respected, retired OC Superior Court judge--won 357 votes and, thanks largely to the Texas delegation, Lee Wrights came in second with 229.
Johnson had asked the convention to select Gray but heaped praise on the popular Wrights.
"You will never regret this," Gray told the crowd after his win. "I've never been so excited."
Gray--long known as a conservative, if independent Republican in OC political circles which was an odd place for one of the nation's most outspoken opponents of the so-called "War on Drugs"--said the goal is now to win in November.
He predicted that if Johnson is allowed to debate President Barack Obama and likely Republican Party nominee Mitt Romney "all bets are off" about conventional predictions on the inability of a third party to win the White House.
Before the party's VP vote, Dr. James Lark of Virginia called Gray "a superb choice."
David Bergland, the party's 1984 presidential nominee, praised Gray for once challenging "the evil Barbara Boxer" for U.S. Senate in California and said he "has done great work as a Libertarian."
During his own pre-victory speech, Gray said it is time "for third parties to rise up" and challenge the status quo.
"We are a political party, not a philosophical debate society," Gray told an enthusiastic crowd. "The purpose of a political party is to enter candidates and win elections."
He also named deceased, free-market economist Milton Friedman "my hero," called for more "choice in school," blasted the acceptance of military torture against terrorism suspects, belittled the income tax system and blamed federal government regulation for the nation's "loss of prosperity."
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Obama officially launched his 2012 presidential campaign today at The Ohio State University and later at Virginia Commonwealth University by claiming he's "kept my promises."