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Just over a week ago, former CIA operative and Republican staffer Evan McMullin announced his bid as an independent candidate for president. A few days later, he hosted an official campaign kick-off (reported on by Ricochet member @thebeardofavon). Since then, there’s been a bunch of interviews — including the one below on Bret Baier’s show, in which I found him impressive — and a few disappointments, but there’s reason to watch closely for at least another week or two.
The biggest loss for McMullin so far is that he’s now missed the filing deadlines in an incredible 33 states (remind me never to ask Bill Kristol to organize a party). In contrast, the Libertarian Party’s leadership has — between stripteases — managed to get Gary Johnson on at least 39 ballots (40 if Ohio comes through) and is on track for at least a few more. According to Ballotpedia, the following states remain open to McMullin through traditional means:
|Montana||5% of the [votes cast for the last] successful candidate for governor in the last election, or 5,000, whichever is less||5,000||8/17/2016||3|
|Tennessee||25 votes per state elector (275 total)||275||8/18/2016||11|
|Iowa||1,500 eligible voters from at least 10 of the state’s counties||1,500||8/19/2016||6|
|Virginia||5,000 registered voters, with at least 200 from each congressional district||5,000||8/26/2016||13|
|Wyoming||2% of the total number of votes cast for United States Representative in the most recent general election||3,302||8/30/2016||3|
|Oregon||1% of the total votes cast in the last general election for president||17,893||8/30/2016||7|
|Arizona||3% of all registered voters who are not affiliated with a qualified political party||36,000||9/9/2016||11|
The numbers actually might be slightly better than that, in that McMullin is reaching out to several minor parties and attempting to become their nominee (this may work in Minnesota). McMullin also thinks he might be able to successfully challenge some of the ballot deadlines in court; I don’t know anything about federal election law, but the schedule seems tight with less than 90 days to go until the election.
The good news for McMullin is that he’s already on the ballot in the one state he has the best chance of playing spoiler and (conceivably) winning: Utah. (He’s also on the ballot in Colorado). As has been widely reported, Utah — normally the reddest of Red States — is looking bad for Donald Trump, who is polling under 40 percent there, apparently because Trump is to many Mormons what garlic is to undead Carpathian nobility. And conventional wisdom is that Trump needs Utah’s six electoral votes to beat Clinton.
McMullin is a Mormon, a graduate of Brigham Young University, and has headquartered his campaign in Salt Lake City. Moreover, it seems at least possible (verging on probable) that he will gain the endorsements of Mitt Romney and Senator Mike Lee, two of Trump’s biggest critics. If Romney and/or Lee endorse McMullin — perhaps along with Senator Ted Cruz, who won there — it would be extremely difficult for Trump to carry the state and, with it, the election.
2016 certainly isn’t a dull year.