| Jocelyn Augustino, American Media Institute

Republican dissidents seek to rally support for Gary Johnson

Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson "might be capable of doing better than people expect" in the key swing state of Virginia, according to a super PAC for pro-Johnson Republicans.

Recent polls in Virginia by The Washington Post and conservative website Bearing Drift showed weakness in GOP nominee Donald Trump's campaign, Liz Mair, "Republicans for Johnson/Weld" spokeswoman,  told reporters in a conference call Wednesday.

The Post poll, released on Tuesday, showed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton leading Trump 45 percent to 34 percent among registered voters, with Johnson polling 11 percent.

The results show "people are looking for an alternative" to the major party candidates, Mair said, adding that the parties have nominated "the most ethically bankrupt people they possibly could."

Virginia could turn out to be "a very interesting state" as the election nears, she said. "This is not a standard two person race, and we might see Johnson gain pretty significant traction here pretty quickly."

The presidential contest "is unquestionably a substantial realignment election for Republicans," according to Jon Henke, who was a strategist for former Republican Sen. George Allen. 

"The real Republican candidates in the race are Johnson and Weld," he said. "They represent Republican views better than Donald Trump."

Johnson was a two-term Republican governor of New Mexico. William Weld, the Libertarian vice presidential nominee, was a two-term Republican governor of Massachusetts.

Representative Scott Rigell (R-Va.) is the only sitting member of the House of Representatives to endorse Johnson's candidacy. Rigell's endorsement prompted him to resign his membership in the Republican Party of Virginia Beach. He  is retiring from Congress at the end of his current term.

Mair predicted "more people jumping ship from Trump, especially people up for re-election." The pro-Johnson super PAC would be "reaching out to elected officials who might be looking at Johnson/Weld to bring them on board in a public way," she said.

Trump's campaign lashed out at the "traitorous and destructive" effort for Johnson/Weld. 

 "There is no such thing as an anti-Trump group," Corey Stewart, chairman of Trump's Virginia campaign, told AMI Newswire. "Anti-Trump is pro-Hillary, and that's what groups like this really are."

"If we lose, I'll know where to go to place blame," Stewart said. "If they want careers in politics afterwards, they won't get them. They'll be destroyed. 

"This is treason against Trump. For whatever reason - their pride, their personal interests - they will damage America permanently by helping elect Hillary Clinton," he said.

"They are immature babies who are tearing down the Republican Party."