Anti-Trump Republicans Finds a Presidential Nominee

On August 8, a group of anti-Trump Republicans said they have found a presidential candidate. He is Evan McMullin, chief policy director for the House Republican Conference (until he resigned recently). Better for America, a group that is independent of the McMullin campaign but which is likely to nominate him, has only petitioned in two states already: New Mexico rejected its petition saying it lacked 145 valid signatures; the Arkansas petition is still being checked. If the McMullin campaign has the resources to complete petition drives very quickly, it could still petition for McMullin in almost half the states. See this story about McMullin. It is not known if McMullin will sue the states with deadlines that are in May, June, and July, but those deadlines are vulnerable to legal challenge.

UPDATE: see this story.

FURTHER UPDATE: see this story.


Anti-Trump Republicans Finds a Presidential Nominee — 26 Comments

  1. This is a long-shot gamble by Romney and other neocons who want more war, and who see Trump has a big problem for the military industrial complex gravy train. The strategy is based on Utah and the possibility that it might be a close election. If it’s a landslide either way, McMullin is irrelevant. However, if it’s a close race, Romney is hoping that this Goldman Sachs alum, CIA counterterrorism operative who also happens to be Mormon (surprise!) can win Utah thus denying either Hillary or Donald the 271 electoral votes to win. Dishonest and desperate are two words that come to mind to describe this strategy.

  2. @Don: It’s 270 electoral votes to win.

    I don’t know about dishonesty, but putting a candidate who has zero public profile into the race just three months before the election day certainly looks like desperation.

  3. I think you nailed it Don. Using Richard’s latest chart, McMullin could theoretically still get on the ballot in almost half the states. But realistically, I think the thirteen noted by asterisks below are the only ones feasible at this point. If you look at the latest Electoral Vote prediction map from, for example,, none of these are in play except for Utah. Yes, clearly a sabotage effort:

    * Alabama, 5000, August 18 (10 days)
    Alaska, 3005, August 10 (2 days)
    Arizona, 35514, September 9 (1 month)
    Calif., 178039, August 12 (4 days)
    * Colorado, pay $1000, August 10
    Connecticut, 7500, August 10 (2 days)
    DC, 4600, August 10 (2 days)
    Hawaii, 4347, August 10 (2 days)
    Idaho, 1000, August 10 (2 days)
    Iowa, 1500, August 10 (2 days)
    * Kentucky, 5000, September 9 (1 month)
    * Louisiana, pay $500, August 19
    * Minnesota, 2000, August 23 (2 weeks)
    * Mississippi, 1000, September 9 (1 month)
    * Montana, 5000, August 17, (9 days)
    New Hampshire, 3000, August 10 (2 days)
    * North Dakota, 4000, September 9 (1 month)
    Ohio, 5000, August 10 (2 days)
    Oregon, 17893, August 30 (3 weeks)
    * Rhode Island, 1000, September 9 (1 month)
    * Tennessee, 275, August 18 (10 days)
    * Utah, 1000, August 15 (1 week)
    * Virginia, 5000, August 26 (2 1/2 weeks)
    * Wyoming, 3302, August 30 (3 weeks)

  4. Seems if they wanted to back someone they should have just thrown their efforts behind someone already in the race and doing well with ballot access. Gary Johnson maybe. Or if they wanted to stick to a solid conservative they could have gone with Darrell Castle who’s been running for a while and has a decent amount of ballot access although not like the Libertarians or Greens. But it’s better than starting from scratch like they’re doing in my opinion.

  5. There are also a handful of state specific third parties with ballot access that they could seek cross endorsements from.

  6. Bradley,

    You write: “Seems if they wanted to back someone they should have just thrown their efforts behind someone already in the race and doing well with ballot access. Gary Johnson maybe.”

    If we judge their intentions by their actions, those intentions would seem to be:

    1) Ensure that Gary Johnson wins no states; and

    2) Help Donald Trump win the election while pretending to be trying to cost Trump the election.

    The two main states I’ve heard them associated with are New Mexico and Utah — the two states where Johnson is doing, or is likely to do, best. In comes McMullin to grab some of the “ain’t gonna vote for Trump” votes away from Johnson, and away from Hillary Clinton, boosting Trump’s chances for plurality wins in those states.

  7. As I’ve analyzed on this site before, in order to finish no worse than third in electoral votes (and thus qualify for the House of Representatives selection if there is no Electoral College majority), you only need 1/4 of the total or at least 136 votes. Only two other tickets could possibly finish with more.

  8. Idaho, Utah, and Tennessee are the ONLY August 10th states that he could feasibly get on… That is, if he already had an army of signature gatherers on the ground in those states working their butts off.

  9. I have heard that they supposedly already have had petition circulators on the ground in Utah.

  10. Many questions and comments. 1) The “Who? factor (“McMullin For President”. “Who?”) may be the greatest problem. He’s unknown outside of Utah. Not a national known conservative like former N.H. Senator Gordon Humphrey. 2) Getting on the ballot right now would get 13 solid states, barring any court challenges to get on the ballot, and any state third parties that might change candidates to get a higher vote, like the IAP, AP, and the Reform Party. 3) Most of the solid states already have the Constitution Party on the ballot, which is at least a known factor for people to vote for. (Paragraph) I hate to say it but the road ahead for “Never Trump” might get worse, not better.

  11. McMullen offers evangelicals an option besides Donald Demagogue. This helps break the strange coalition between pro-lifers and fascists that makes up his remaining 35%–especially in Utah.

  12. Jeff, your list should take recognition that Florida deadline for new parties has not passed.

  13. Better for America would have done “Better” to support Darrell Castle, Prohibitionist Jim Hedges or even Chris Keniston of the Veterans Party.
    Still – I’ll be interested to see how this turns out.

  14. The “Never Hillary, Never Trump” vote is going to be split between McMullin and Castle unless the two camps can work together. Either 1) the CP endorses McMullin. (Now not very likely since Castle is the stronger candidate.), or 2) Cross endorsements. One group asks for their voters to vote for the other group if the first group is not on the ballot and the second group is, and vice versa.

  15. “* Mississippi, 1000, September 9 (1 month)”

    Doesn’t Mississippi also allow organized parties on the ballot without a petition, or has that deadline passed?

  16. Michael, are you sure that the Never Trump or Hillary vote will be split between CASTLE and McMullin?

  17. (Sorry, posted too soon on accident)

    – but in actuality, McMullin’s candidacy is going to hurt Darrell Castle more so then Gary Johnson, since the hard-right anti-Trump LDS Constitutionalist vote in Utah and possibly Idaho is going to split between McMullin and Castle.

  18. This seems to be a Johnson voter suppression effort rather than an anti-Trump one. Using their connections and massive amounts of money/media they also hope to supercede Johnson in getting in the Democrat/Republican debates.

    I believe the one thing the general “establishment” cannot allow is the Libertarians, or any third party, gaining traction or acceptance by the general voters in any election. It would be an existential threat to the whole “two party system” myth.

    With respect to ballot access. As the Libertarians (and others) have learned the hard way it’s not just a money problem. Unless they have secretly accumulated a vast army of experienced petitioners – of which I have only heard the faintest rumblings – they can hire off Craigslist all day long and get a 20% validity rate. That’s also assuming they have an experienced staff and infrastructure. Collecting for an initiative in CA is not the same as finding a WalMart in OK that will let you collect. I guess a truly obscene amount of money might help bulldoze through some obstacles but it’s not enough alone.

    In light of the above, I would expect (and hope) for a massive failure to get on in all but the easiest jurisdictions.

  19. It is not too late for a new party to qualify in Mississippi, for the presidential election (but no other office).

  20. I generally agree with the comments here, except those who write that this effort is an anti-Johnson effort. I disagree. Occam’s Razor applies here. This is simply a #NEVERTRUMP operation in the war to stop Trump from being elected. I’d bet the Romneyites are talking about McMullin’s candidacy as the best way to throw the election to the House of Representatives. Anyone with even half a brain knows that’s nonsense. Romney, Kristol, Krauthamer and the rest of the neocons would be ecstatic with a Hillary presidency to keep the never-ending war machine going.

  21. Leo and Cody–as far as many conservatives are concerned, yes. Many who lean toward the Libertarian camps will vote Johnson. Some may even vote Green Party as a protest.

  22. I’m in Utah, and despite what was said above, McMullin is not well-known here. But he is enough of a Utahn that he could get 15 to 20 percent of the vote here with little effort if he has even a lukewarm endorsement from Romney — and his potential is much higher. Johnson also has his headquarters here and has significant support. In a four-way race, someone could easily win with under 40 percent of the vote, and it could be any one of the four. Stein won’t be much of a factor here but will be on the ballot. McMullin’s candidacy probably hurts Johnson here more than anyone else.

  23. I agree. Stein will hurt Hillary, not Trump, who’s already leading in the state.

  24. To call McMullin’s entry a dishonest strategy (based on some plan to take Utah on account of his religion and/or to promote greedy warmongering — and denying an electoral-college win to Trump or Clinton) is strongly implying that a certain class of people shouldn’t have a right to vote how they please if it is going to interfere with the bigoted vision of some sort of idyllic two-party election. However the strategy plays out, third-party candidates should have a right to try to make a difference without being called dishonest by default.

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