Newport Beach’s Jim Gray to run for president as Libertarian

Jim Gray, shown at his Newport Beach home last week, believes there's a chance he can become the 46th president of the United States.
Jim Gray, shown at his Newport Beach home last week, believes there’s a chance he can become the 46th president of the United States.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Longtime Newport Beach resident Jim Gray, who was born in Washington, D.C., 75 years ago, hopes to return to the U.S. capital early next year and take up residence in the White House.

“That’s because I expect to become the Libertarian Party’s candidate for president and defeat Donald Trump and Joe Biden in the Nov. 3 general election,” said Gray, a leading figure in the Libertarian Party and former Orange County Superior Court judge, Navy officer who served in combat during the Vietnam War, Peace Corps teacher in Costa Rica and Daily Pilot columnist.

The upcoming presidential election will be Gray’s fourth endeavor to represent the Libertarian Party at the national level. He was unsuccessful in 2004 in defeating incumbent California Democrat U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, in 2012 when he was the Libertarian vice presidential candidate in the race against incumbent President Barack Obama and Vice President Biden and in 2016 when his party selected another vice presidential candidate to run against the ticket of Donald Trump and Mike Pence.

The Libertarian Party had initially planned to hold its national convention to choose its presidential and vice presidential candidates in Austin, Texas, during Memorial Day weekend on May 23-25, Gray said.

“But due to the rest-in-place, social distancing, travel and other restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, we may have to cancel the Austin event and hold the convention via teleconferencing or some other sort of viral communication,” Gray said. “Or, we could reschedule the Texas convention to late summer. At this time, we have no concrete plans.”

“In any case, my campaign for the nomination is doing very well,” Gray added. “Not only am I receiving endorsements from many convention delegates, but I am receiving backing from community leaders all over the country. Two of them are well-known and respected Orange Countians, Dr. Jim Doti, president emeritus of Chapman University, and Tom Campbell, a former Northern California Republican congressman and Chapman Law School dean who now is a law professor there.”

Gray also announced that his choice for vice presidential running mate is 52-year-old Larry Sharpe, who lives in New York City. Sharpe holds a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Maryland and is a business consultant, entrepreneur, political activist, internet broadcaster, teacher and former Marine Corps staff sergeant who spent seven years on active duty following his enlistment at the age of 17.

Gray said he and Sharpe will make a “great team because we represent both coasts and are adherents to the Libertarian Party’s tenets, which stress economic liberty, limited government and parental rights to receive vouchers in order to place their children in public, charter or religious schools that would foster competition and better teaching.” Gray also said he and Sharpe are opposed to the Patriot Act and the government’s “secret surveillance of American civilians and other invasions that intrude into our personal, private lives and threaten the soul of our democracy, freedoms and liberties.”

Gray, who has received national attention for his opposition to local, state and federal laws which restrict the sale of marijuana for personal use, said he also deplores restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic that have resulted in massive unemployment, quarantines, the closure of thousands of small businesses and “increasing numbers of suicides, domestic abuse and depression.”

In one recent case during the coronavirus outbreak, Gray said, “a U.S. governor said it was OK for citizens to use canoes and kayaks for recreation, but not motorboats. Does this make any sense? This is an example of arbitrary government. The government is not our mother. We are adults and can make our own decisions.”

“Nine or 10 others also are seeking the Libertarian presidential endorsement, so I’m working hard to be the top choice,” said Gray, who was 6 months old when he and his family (his father was an Army lieutenant colonel) moved from Washington, D.C., to Glendale.

Jim Gray, right, and his wife, Dr. Grace Walker Gray, at their Newport Beach home.
Jim Gray, right, and his wife, Dr. Grace Walker Gray, at their Newport Beach home.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Gray received a bachelor’s degree in history from UCLA, where he was admitted to the Navy ROTC program, was awarded his law degree from the USC School of Law, practiced law before his judicial appointment and lives in Newport Beach’s Bayshores community with his wife, Dr. Grace Walker Gray, a physical therapist. Gray also is the father of four, one of whom was a young Vietnamese boy he adopted during Vietnam War service as a Navy legal officer. He also served aboard a 325-foot LST landing craft that came under enemy fire off the Vietnam coast and was awarded the Navy Combat Medal for this assignment.

As for the presidential election, Gray, a former Republican, said, “although the Libertarian Party will be on the ballot in all 50 states, we never will have the millions of dollars the Democrats and Republicans will raise for Biden and Trump. So I am advocating that our party spend most of the money we raise in four or five small states such as North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, Alaska, Nevada and Vermont.

“If we win in two or three of these states, one of the major political parties may not be able to win a majority in the Electoral College and the election would be decided in the House of Representatives, as specified in the U.S. Constitution,” Gray said. “If this comes about, the Republicans and Democrats in the House may split their votes along party lines and I will be elected president as the compromise candidate.”

This scenario may sound far-fetched to some.

“But it’s certainly a possibility,” Gray said. “Remember that the election of the president fell to the House of Representatives twice in our history: In 1800, when the House voted Thomas Jefferson president, and in 1824, when it elected John Quincy Adams.

“If it happens a third time, I could become the 46th president of the United States.”

David C. Henley is a contributor to Times Community News.

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