Evan McMullin and the Utah Gambit

 

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7iLGshe0xM

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:

State Criteria Signatures Deadline EC Votes
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
Alabama 5,000 5,000 8/18/2016  9
Iowa 1,500 eligible voters from at least 10 of the state’s counties 1,500 8/19/2016  6
Louisiana 5,000 5,000 8/19/2016  8
Minnesota 2,000 2,000 8/23/2016  10
Idaho 1,000 1,000 8/24/2016  4
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
North Dakota 4,000 4,000 9/5/2016  3
Mississippi 1,000 1,000 9/9/2016  6
Rhode Island 1,000 1,000 9/9/2016  4
Kentucky 5,000 5,000 9/9/2016  8
Arizona 3% of all registered voters who are not affiliated with a qualified political party 36,000 9/9/2016  11
TOTAL 92,970  106

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.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    A waste of everyone’s time and someone else’s money.

    • #1
  2. Jon Gabriel, Ed. Admin
    Jon Gabriel, Ed.
    @jon

    “Trump is to many Mormons what garlic is to undead Carpathian nobility” is the line of the week.

    • #2
  3. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    If he wins states Trump would normally have won, Utah being a good example, that doesn’t seem to change Hillary’s calculus and doesn’t seem likely to ensure nobody achieves a majority in the electoral college.

    I’ve not seen a credible poll in weeks that gives Trump a chance of winning so what calculus does Mr. McMullins’ participation change?

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    I have a question regarding rodent/mammal/marsupial husbandry and what not.

    If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    If Ted Cruz endorses Mr. McMullins is Senator Cruz upgraded from weasel or do we just throw fresh cedar shavings in his cage or maybe get him a weasel wheel for exercise?

    • #4
  5. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    BrentB67:If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    That’s not why I called Cruz a weasel (though I rather wish I had chosen a different title; “First Trump Came For Jeb Bush” would have been better).

    I liked that Cruz told members to vote their conscience; it was a clever and — I think — effective way to deal with his pledge.

    The reason I called Cruz a weasel was because the reason he cited for refusing to endorse Trump  was deeply underwhelming.

    Based on his statement the day after the convention, Cruz apparently had no ideological objections to endorsing Trump, nor was he troubled by Trump’s personal attacks on other candidates. All that mattered was that Trump attacked his family.

    While I respect a man for defending his family, I’m unimpressed by someone who only cites transgressions against his own when other reasons were abundant.

    • #5
  6. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    I’m not sure what this song and dance is all about.

    If conservatives lose or have lost the Republican party as a platform for their ideas then they’ll need to build a new party from the ground up.  If they intend to continue to house themselves within the Republican party then they’ll need to find a way to get control back.

    This McMullin stuff is just active procrastination.

    • #6
  7. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    BrentB67:If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    That’s not why I called Cruz a weasel (though I rather wish I had chosen a different title; “First Trump Came For Jeb Bush” would have been better).

    I liked that Cruz told members to vote their conscience; it was a clever and — I think — effective way to deal with his pledge.

    The reason I called Cruz a weasel was because the reason he cited for refusing to endorse Trump was deeply underwhelming.

    Based on his statement the day after the convention, Cruz apparently had no ideological objections to endorsing Trump, nor was he troubled by Trump’s personal attacks on other candidates. All that mattered was that Trump attacked his family.

    While I respect a man for defending his family, I’m unimpressed by someone who only cites transgressions against his own when other reasons were abundant.

    So by that logic it is cedar shavings and an exercise wheel.

    You must think an awful lot of people are weasels. Nothing wrong with that.

    • #7
  8. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe McMullin isn’t a stalking horse by people determined to make Trump lose to teach GOP voters a lesson – especially since he couldn’t get on the ballot in California. It’s not like he needs those 55 electoral votes.

    But it’s not like he’s a perfect cipher for the none-dare-call-them-establishment wing right?

    This candidacy seems like one more misreading of the populace by a deliberately-unnamed-faction of the GOP because Trump doesn’t seem to be needing any help with losing, and in fact will probably cause a massive backlash that destroys the GOP entirely.

    • #8
  9. Michael Farrow Inactive
    Michael Farrow
    @MichaelFarrow

    I find McMullin as underwhelming as, say, Pataki.  What a waste of everyone’s time to talk about him.

    • #9
  10. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Austin Murrey:I’ve seen nothing to lead me to believe McMullin isn’t a stalking horse by people determined to make Trump lose to teach GOP voters a lesson – especially since he couldn’t get on the ballot in California. It’s not like he needs those 55 electoral votes right?

    Also standby for the lawsuit in Texas. I am confident our judiciary is aching to turnover perfectly legitimate law to accommodate this exercise.

    But it’s not like he’s a perfect cipher for the none-dare-call-them-establishment wing right?

    That’s quite an article. Thanks for sharing that.

    This candidacy seems like one more misreading of the populace by a faction because Trump doesn’t seem to be needing any help with that, and in fact will probably cause a massive backlash that destroys the GOP entirely.

    • #10
  11. Joe P Member
    Joe P
    @JoeP

    Casey:I’m not sure what this song and dance is all about.

    If conservatives lose or have lost the Republican party as a platform for their ideas then they’ll need to build a new party from the ground up. If they intend to continue to house themselves within the Republican party then they’ll need to find a way to get control back.

    This McMullin stuff is just active procrastination.

    Where do we get to sign up for the big secret meeting to decide what the conservative movement is going to do? I kind of want to attend and make sure it isn’t hijacked by the very same people who got us into this mess for the past 8-28 years or so.

    • #11
  12. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    BrentB67: If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    My own view, if you are an elected official, you need to support the party’s nominee or leave the party.  Romney is not currently an elected official, there is time for him to return the party at a later date, but Mike Lee is running for re-election in the fall, so if he endorses McMullin, I think he needs to leave the party and run as an independent.

    FWIW, I would not characterize Ted’s convention speech at the same level as endorsing a third party candidate, but if Cruz endorses McMullin, then he goes in the same category.

    But, I think plenty of conservatives will leave the GOP over Trump.  Hopefully the exodus of conservatives from the GOP will begin the creation of a new party.

    • #12
  13. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Joe P:

    Casey:I’m not sure what this song and dance is all about.

    If conservatives lose or have lost the Republican party as a platform for their ideas then they’ll need to build a new party from the ground up. If they intend to continue to house themselves within the Republican party then they’ll need to find a way to get control back.

    This McMullin stuff is just active procrastination.

    Where do we get to sign up for the big secret meeting to decide what the conservative movement is going to do? I kind of want to attend and make sure it isn’t hijacked by the very same people who got us into this mess for the past 8-28 years or so.

    As near as I can tell according to most folks the conservative movement and Republican party peaked shortly after Obama was re-elected and the RNC issued its analysis that said the cornerstone issue was comprehensive immigration reform. It’s pretty much been baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet since then.

    • #13
  14. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Austin Murrey:But it’s not like he’s a perfect cipher for the none-dare-call-them-establishment wing right?

    I hadn’t seen that one. I agree with Gallagher that the answer on Obergefell was bad.

    Did you watch the Baier interview?

    • #14
  15. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    A-Squared:

    BrentB67: If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    My own view, if you are an elected official, you need to support the party’s nominee or leave the party. Romney is not currently an elected official, there is time for him to return the party at a later date, but Mike Lee is running for re-election in the fall, so if he endorses McMullin, I think he needs to leave the party and run as an independent.

    FWIW, I would not characterize Ted’s convention speech at the same level as endorsing a third party candidate, but if Cruz endorses McMullin, then he goes in the same category.

    But, I think plenty of conservatives will leave the GOP over Trump. Hopefully the exodus of conservatives from the GOP will begin the creation of a new party.

    The first time I met Ted Cruz and heard him speak in 2012 my first thought was “What is this guy doing in the Republican Party? He has about as much in common with them as he does the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?”.

    A similar sentiment could be applied to Mike Lee.

    • #15
  16. Austin Murrey Inactive
    Austin Murrey
    @AustinMurrey

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Austin Murrey:But it’s not like he’s a perfect cipher for the none-dare-call-them-establishment wing right?

    I hadn’t seen that one. I agree with Gallagher that the answer on Obergefell was bad.

    Did you watch the Baier interview?

    I have not, but I haven’t gone out of my way to listen to him either.

    • #16
  17. Guruforhire Inactive
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    A-Squared: But, I think plenty of conservatives will leave the GOP over Trump. Hopefully the exodus of conservatives from the GOP will begin the creation of a new party.

    I think it will be hilarious to see what happens when the conservative movements steps into that particular total perspective vortex.

    • #17
  18. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Guruforhire:

    I think it will be hilarious to see what happens when the conservative movements steps into that particular total perspective vortex.

    Perhaps.  It’s clear from Trump’s rise that conservatives are not a sizable majority of the Republican primary voters.

    • #18
  19. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    A-Squared: My own view, if you are an elected official, you need to support the party’s nominee or leave the party. Romney is not currently an elected official, there is time for him to return the party at a later date, but Mike Lee is running for re-election in the fall, so if he endorses McMullin, I think he needs to leave the party and run as an independent

    You must have a lot more respect for the Republican Party than I can muster.

    My own view is, when a political party falls to the depths we see in the Republican Party, the party label is a meaningless item. I think the same about the Democrat Party so it’s appropriate for Bernie Sanders to jump back and forth as he deems fit.

    This fallen state of essentially no meaning or significance (beyond automatic placement on state presidential election ballots) is how Trump is the nominee.

    I cannot find a path to criticize anyone using any advantage in the election process as things stand.

    • #19
  20. Richard Fulmer Inactive
    Richard Fulmer
    @RichardFulmer

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Austin Murrey:But it’s not like he’s a perfect cipher for the none-dare-call-them-establishment wing right?

    I hadn’t seen that one. I agree with Gallagher that the answer on Obergefell was bad.

    Did you watch the Baier interview?

    I did watch the interview and was impressed with McMullin.  He might make a good candidate for Congress in the future.

    • #20
  21. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    A-Squared:

    Guruforhire:

    I think it will be hilarious to see what happens when the conservative movements steps into that particular total perspective vortex.

    Perhaps. It’s clear from Trump’s rise that conservatives are not a sizable majority of the Republican primary voters.

    It is painful to admit, but the evidence suggests this is correct. Thus I consider praying for iWe’s solution.

    • #21
  22. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Joe P:

    Where do we get to sign up for the big secret meeting to decide what the conservative movement is going to do? I kind of want to attend and make sure it isn’t hijacked by the very same people who got us into this mess for the past 8-28 years or so.

    Not sure about the intent and meaning of your comment.

    This fella is getting funding and support from somewhere.  Those folks are presumably conservative.  Romney has money, a voice, and influence.  How about Cruz and Rubio sacrifice themselves to team up to start a new party like a coupla statesmen.  No secret meeting required.

    And let’s give an honest assessment here… It was the conservatives who were hijacking the Republican party.  It wasn’t that the Republican party was a conservative party that went weak on conservatism.  It was a non-conservative party that was being overrun by conservatives.  It appeared in 2015 that conservatives were finally going to own the party but then Trump beat them to it.

    The conservative problem is a bottom-up problem, not a top-down problem.

    • #22
  23. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Bob Thompson:You must have a lot more respect for the Republican Party than I can muster.

    I have a lot of respect for voluntary associations.

    If the political party is meaningless, then it serves no purpose.  Being a member of any political party means you exchange support for other candidates in exchange for their support of you.  If you find you can’t support the nominee of your party for the office of the President of the US, then you need voluntarily disassociate from that party (and any party that was worthy of the name would kick you out.)

    If there is not going to be party that believes in conservative principles, then we need to create one pronto or abandon the country to the economic central planners (eg, our next President.)

    • #23
  24. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    A-Squared: Being a member of any political party means you exchange support for other candidates in exchange for their support of you.

    And what does this mean when open primaries?  If it is not what you describe all the time, how do you determine when your description does apply?

    • #24
  25. Tom Meyer Contributor
    Tom Meyer
    @tommeyer

    Richard Fulmer:

    I did watch the interview and was impressed with McMullin. He might make a good candidate for Congress in the future.

    That was my thought as well. I think absent this (utterly insane) circumstance, he’d have nothing but fans here.

    • #25
  26. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Bob Thompson:

    And what does this mean when open primaries? If it is not what you describe all the time, how do you determine when your description does apply?

    It only applies once the candidate is selected by the party.  Until then, there is no party candidate to support, there are only people hoping to be the party’s candidate.  You are free to support any of the various hopefuls.  So, for example, Romney’s speech during the primary would not violate the party rule, but endorsing a third-party candidate after the convention would.

    I will say Trump has routinely violated this rule by refusing to endorse other Republican candidates for other offices, but let’s face it, Trump has at best a dotted-line relationship with the Republican Party.

    • #26
  27. Scott Abel Inactive
    Scott Abel
    @ScottAbel

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.:“Trump is to many Mormons what garlic is to undead Carpathian nobility” is the line of the week.

    I liked “remind me never to ask Bill Kristol to organize a party”. Snapping writing, an interesting writeup. Would go again.

    • #27
  28. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    A-Squared:

    Bob Thompson:

    And what does this mean when open primaries? If it is not what you describe all the time, how do you determine when your description does apply?

    It only applies once the candidate is selected by the party. Until then, there is no party candidate to support, there are only people hoping to be the party’s candidate. You are free to support any of the various hopefuls. So, for example, Romney’s speech during the primary would not violate the party rule, but endorsing a third-party candidate after the convention would.

    I will say Trump has routinely violated this rule by refusing to endorse other Republican candidates for other offices, but let’s face it, Trump has at best a dotted-line relationship with the Republican Party.

    We don’t know if Trump will remain the nominee until the election. Perhaps these non-endorsements and other party candidates coupled with whatever is in Trump’s own mind, which it seems is unknowable even to himself, will help in a decision to depart the process.

    • #28
  29. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Bob Thompson: We don’t know if Trump will remain the nominee until the election.

    Why would Trump quit when he can have the election stolen from him and whine about for the next couple of decades.

    If he quits, he a “loser”.  If he gets the election stolen from him, he’s a victim.

    • #29
  30. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    A-Squared:

    Bob Thompson: We don’t know if Trump will remain the nominee until the election.

    Why would Trump quit when he can have the election stolen from him and whine about for the next couple of decades.

    If he quits, he a “loser”. If he gets the election stolen from him, he’s a victim.

    He won’t lose.  He’ll claim the whole thing was a ruse to get his friend into office.

    • #30
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