Retired OC judge named to Libertarian presidential ticket

Retired Orange County Superior Court Judge Jim Gray’s national recognition as a drug-reform activist ratcheted up a notch last week, when he landed on the Libertarian Party presidential ticket.

Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson got the expected nod as the Libertarian Party presidential nominee while Gray was confirmed as Johnson’s running mate May 5 at the party’s national convention in Las Vegas.

Newport Beach resident Gray, whom Johnson had previously mentioned as his preferred running mate, is hardly new to the political arena.

He ran as a Republican for the House of Representatives in 1998, losing in the primary as Bob Dornan advanced to the general but failed to win back his seat from Loretta Sanchez. Gray ran as a Libertarian for U.S. Senate in 2004 and helped lead the failed 2010 campaign for Proposition 19, which would have legalized marijuana for recreational use in California.

Johnson also supports legalized marijuana, but his differences from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama hardly end there. He attacks both for not being what they say they are – criticizing Romney’s plan to cut the budget as unrealistic given his spending plans and criticizing Obama on civil liberties and involvement in Afghanistan.

Johnson dismissed suggestions that he could cost Romney the election.

“You know, all of those Romney supporters that are ardent marriage-equality advocates?” Johnson, who favors legalization of gay marriage, told the Daily Caller. “All those pot smokers that are for Romney? Nah, I don’t buy it.”

Tobacco money

Tobacco companies have pitched in more than $39 million to defeat Proposition 29, which would impose an additional $1 per pack cigarette tax, according to an analysis by non-partisan Maplight watchdog group. The new tax proceedings would go to research into and prevention of tobacco-related diseases,

Philip Morris alone has contributed $23.6 million so far, five times the $4.7 million total raised by measure proponents. Next comes R.J. Reynolds with $9.6 million. The top five contributors against Prop. 29 are tobacco companies. No. 6 is the California Republican Party, which has given $695,000. Americans for Tax Reform and the California Chamber of Commerce also oppose the measure.

Top contributors supporting the measures are the American Cancer Society ($1.6 million) and the Lance Armstrong Foundation ($1.5 million). Other proponents include the California Medical Association and the California State PTA.

Gay marriage poll

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that he now supports gay marriage but added that it should be up to the individual states. That stops short of the federal gay marriage preferred by the vast majority of Democrats surveyed in a new OC Political Pulse poll.

Among the 130 county Democrat respondents, 88 percent would prefer gay marriage be enacted on the federal level and another 4 percent wanted civil unions – rather than marriages – on the federal level. Just 5 percent shared Obama’s position that states should take responsibility and perform same-sex marriages.

Republicans take a far different view. Of the 220 Republicans surveyed, only 4 percent of wanted to see gay marriage on a federal level.

Forty-nine percent of GOP respondents said gay couples should not have the same legal rights as man-woman married couples, while 28 percent approved of civil unions on a state-by-state basis.

Contact the writer: 714-796-6753 or