The question is on the minds of several commentators, and it is a good one.

I think the answer is an obvious “YES.”

I don’t think libertarian Republicans should be wringing their hands over this, because not only is it an indication that libertarianism is alive and well in the party, it also means Ron Paul is not the only libertarian game in town. 

Whether they are in a clear majority of the GOP or not, I think this it is clear that libertarianish thinkers are no longer circus freaks. I can’t imagine anyone asking, “Is the Republican field big enough for two conservatives?” or even “Is the Republican field big enough for two moderates?”

And Gary Johnson is a reminder that if a libertarian Republican can be elected governor for two terms in a 2-1 Democrat state, it might be time to ask whether such an ideology is really as “fringey” as the political insiders who bitterly cling to the flawed dichotomy of “either liberal conservative” would have the rest of us believe.

To preserve the artificially limited spectrum on which their power depends, they want the playing field kept as small as possible, so I would expect them do anything they can to keep libertarian issues and candidates out of the debates. A likely tactic would be to engender animosity not between Ron Paul and Gary Johnson, along with their followers. How well that will work, I don’t know.

I prefer Gary Johnson, but I would never begrudge Ron Paul his due. Despite my disagreements with the man, he broke new ground in the GOP, and I will repeat what I said when I returned from the Michigan Republican Convention in January:

I think all libertarians owe a serious debt to Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty. They stormed the Republican Party before the Tea Party existed, and the once-sidelined libertarians now have a place at the table thanks to them.

It’s nice to see the table growing.