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Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson announced Wednesday that he’s bolting the Republican Party in favor of a long-shot Libertarian bid.

Mr. Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, blamed the Republican establishment for freezing him out of debates, despite his “solid record of job creation” and experience leading the border state.

He appeared in only two primary debates, but was excluded from the others, presumably because of his poor performance in the polls.

“Frankly, I have been deeply disappointed by the treatment I have received in the Republican nomination process,” he said in a statement. “In the final analysis … I am a Libertarian — that is, someone who is fiscally very conservative but holds freedom-based positions on many social issues. I think this election needs a libertarian voice.”

In 2008, Mr. Johnson endorsed U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who also is running as a Republican this time around and is leading in polling for next week’s Iowa caucuses. This time, however, Mr. Johnson believes backing Mr. Paul would be a waste of time.

“While Ron Paul is a good man and a libertarian who I proudly endorsed for president in 2008, there is no guarantee he will be the Republican nominee,” Mr. Johnson said.

He also took parting shots at other Republican candidates, bemoaning the fact that Jon Huntsman Jr. and Rick Santorum have frequently appeared on the national stage despite having “no national name recognition.” Mr. Johnson also took aim at Michele Bachmann, who briefly led the pack over the summer, for being embraced by some in the Republican establishment despite her lack of “executive experience.”

The Libertarian Party’s candidate is expected to appear on all 50 states’ ballots in in the November election. Former Rep. Bob Barr, another ex-Republican lawmaker who bolted the GOP, was the party’s 2008 nominee.

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